Set your alarms for May 5, fellow citizens! On that date, eager players will begin their first in-game cycle as a Sleeper: a digital consciousness in an artificial humanoid suit. Citizen Sleeper launches for XBox One and Series X|S, with a day one release on PC Game Pass.
The titular Sleeper is on the run from a corrupt mega-corporation that technically owns their synthetic body. So they’re hiding out in Erlin’s Eye, a derelict space station. The Eye has an enigmatic back-story, related to the inter-faction conflict in a remote galactic sector. That leaves plenty of opportunities for our protagonist to snoop around, digging up lucrative intel or secret assets. However, since the station is also a gig economy hellscape, they will need to take on various risky odd jobs if they want to escape the corp for good.
The game is published by Fellow Traveller, whose previous releases include a choose-your-path game as President of an ersatz post-Soviet republic (Suzerain) and a detective mystery set during the Big Bang (Genesis Noir). So the high-concept quirk is practically an in-house feature.
But Citizen Sleeper also builds on some recent trends in narrative gaming. For each in-game cycle, the player character decides how to spend their time. Options include bartending shifts, scrapyard duty, and other less reputable tasks. This brings to mind other futuristic job sims like Cloudpunk and Neo Cab.
As the player encounters hackers, street-food vendors, and various wretched hive denizens, they will take on expected side missions. Challenges are resolved via dice rolls, modified by skill levels, akin to a tabletop RPG. The outcome will affect the various Clocks and Drives that represent the Sleeper’s chances for long-term escape.
Stylized visuals give the world of Citizen Sleeper its run-down junkyard vibe. The character designs are illustrated by comic artist Guillaume Singelin. His “ligne claire” aesthetic is influenced by Jean “Mœbius” Girard, who also inspired the look of Sable’s planetary scrappers. The gameplay trailer shows a mix of sleek HUD-style interface, map-based task management, and text-oriented interactive fiction.
Setting a whole game within just one space station could be a dicey proposition (pun very much intended). Fortunately, Fellow Traveller’s track record for compelling story-driven games suggests the odds are Citizen Sleeper’s favor.