Monday, 30 July 2018 09:00

Sleep Tight Review

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"This is it," I thought to myself, as though I was Wyatt, one of the playable characters within Sleep Tight, the inaugural release from the studio We Are Fuzzy. "If I can make it through tonight, then I can resupply and have a real shot of finishing this once and for all.” It had been 39 nights of fighting back wave after wave of monsters. 39 sleepless nights followed immediately by days spent upgrading defenses, one pillow at a time. There was never enough sun, though, and every last bit of the available sun to start the day with was gone before I knew it. Hopefully the defenses would hold, and the ammo would flow.


For even just one moment of suspension of disbelief or expansion of imagination, like the one above, is why so many people flock to gaming, and in this title, those moments are plentiful. Brief moments in time like this where you forget that you’re playing a game and remember what it was like to be in your room building forts with your friends and fighting invisible monsters are so common in Sleep Tight, that I found myself narrating these experiences more often than I care to admit. These monsters aren't imaginary or invisible here, though, and one wrong move can cost you everything.

The title is a top-down shooter with strong base building elements that ultimately determine your ability to survive the night. At times, it reminded me of a traditional tower defense entry, as wave after wave of monster crashed against the pillows and blankets thrown over upturned tables… but was always quickly reminded that it’s me they were after. As they fall to the darts that are fired from your character’s dart gun, the monsters leave behind stars that can be spent on upgrades during the daytime. The room is large, though, and although you may be safe behind your fort walls, you have to leave to collect those stars. When you leave, you’re a monster magnet, and they always come faster than you expect.


It’s in the moments that I’m outside of the safety of my fort -- a fort that can be upgraded into three tiers of walls with varying degrees of health, or equipped with turrets that fire on the enemy without your interaction -- that I often fail to survive. It seems like such an obvious thing, but the draw to collect more stars always seems to pull me away from safety and to my eventual demise. Herein lies the complexity of Sleep Tight, a title that’s easy to pick up and learn, but hard to master. If you don't upgrade your fort, the monsters will break through, but if you take the risk to get the stars for the upgrade, you might fail… until you don’t.

If you do make it to the next day, you’re rewarded with eight suns, which represent the number of hours of daylight you have left until you have to defend again. These suns, as well as the stars, allow you to do a variety of things in addition to the upgrades detailed previously, including purchasing new weapons, unlocking power-ups to your damage or health, and unlocking special abilities that give you a better fighting chance to survive. As a player I found myself constantly grappling with how to best spend these points to provide the most impact.


If I’m being honest, I don’t care if I ever do figure out that perfect balance for survival. Even if I do, it would be with only one of the available 12 characters that can be unlocked, anyway. Each of those characters have unique talents that might make the task a bit easier, but the difficulty also ramps up to offset those abilities. With an art style that’s reminiscent of the animated movies we grew up on (it makes me think of The Iron Giant) and an upbeat soundtrack that keeps pace with the frenetic fight for survival, I never found myself feeling that creeping frustration that can so often accompany games where you lose over and over again.

If there was a single point when playing this game where I thought things could be done slightly better, it was in the control of the player’s character. Although snappy and tight in movement, playing on a keyboard and mouse didn’t feel as intuitive as it could have. When playing with a controller, it certainly felt more natural, but it seemed like there was a tendency for the game to want to force me to look in certain directions, even with Aim Assist off. I quickly got used to the quirks of the movement, though, and it became nothing more than a passing frustration in scenarios where maybe I wasted a dart or two more than I wanted to.


The Verdict: Excellent

There’s no doubt in my mind that We Are Fuzzy has a hit on their hands with Sleep Tight, as it will be a go-to casual game in my library for years to come. The upbeat soundtrack and unique art style complement the frenetic fight-for-survival gameplay, which never lets you feel that creeping frustration common to games in which you lose over and over again.

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Alex Mickle

Alex Mickle is a gamer that traces his roots to JRPG’s on the PS1, but ultimately found his way to PC gaming by spending every afternoon after school playing Counterstrike at a local LAN gaming café. He is a father and husband that splits his gaming time into bursts whenever he can find time, or when ever he makes time. Alex enjoys variance and versatility in his gaming experiences and can be found asleep on the couch with a twitch steam on the television at the end of almost every night.


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