Sleep Tight is a unique mesh of twin-stick shooter and base building mechanics all wrapped in delightful Pixar visualization that’s not entirely unlike Monsters Inc. Developed and published by We Are Fuzzy and is the studio’s first released title.
You take on the role of a kid just before bedtime and like most you don’t want to go to sleep, a smart move because you’re not alone, creeping from the shadows, purple horned creatures with rather goofy looking eyes close in around you and armed only with a nerf gun you must find a way to survive the night. If you managed to make it to daybreak you’ll have some free time to explore your bedroom. This is the downtime screen where you prepare for what’s to come each night, spending literal daylight in the form of “suns” you get each morning and “stars” obtained from monsters to build pillow-forts, develop nerf guns and researching new bonuses.
The comparison to Pixar is plain to see, its clearly the devs main inspiration, the visuals are playful, goofy and the theme of a child’s imagination is the perfect setting for a game full of monsters. They did an exceptional job with shadows and a silhouette cast across the bedroom floor from a window at night gave me a genuine feeling of unease.
As the number of survived nights increase the design of the monsters shifts from playful and fun to a more creepy design, Small horns become twisted, clean smiles become fanged jaws and like watching a mogwai become a gremlin, things get a little more sinister. The music is quaint but that’s to be expected from a running background track if it drew your attention it would get repetitive very quickly.
Sleep Tight is a delight to play, the twin-stick controls are sharp, the pace is fast and the camera is zoomed in just enough to require fast reflexes when a creature sprints into view. As with other games in the genre, it’s all about staying mobile to avoiding damage. Every so often a lull in the action leaving you wondering where the next enemy will lunge from, I often found myself seeking refuge in a corner, back against the wall just to be sure nothing could sneak up on me. At one point when I did finally run out of ammo, I was left scrambling around the room trying desperately to avoid being hit by the mass of horned horrors in hot pursuit.
Having a look at the list of upgrades you can buy this is where Sleep Tight left me rather dumbfounded, I was surprised to find genuine depth and rogue-lite elements which you wouldn’t expect to find in a games with such simple visuals, health and ammo are resources you must purchase with your nights earnings of suns and stars, bonuses for your character only last a few nights, defenses must be repaired. This gives you a lot of choices on how to play, do you want to take a bonus shield to conserve your health or take a risk in gaining more resources each night? Build a new turret or buy a new gun? with 12 characters to unlock each with their own unique bonuses Sleep Tight has a lot of replayability and lets you double down on min-maxing a particular strategy.
Speaking of character unlocks they’re no simple task with some characters requiring 25 or 35 nights survived to unlock or unique tasks such as using every weapon in a single game.
So what doesn’t work?:
The game is not without its issues, while the twin-stick aspect of the game works wonderfully, the base building doesn’t mesh with it well,
These two genre’s in the game are at odds with each other, twin-stick shooters are all about staying mobile, using your character’s agility to avoid incoming damage while dishing your own out in spades. Base defense is the exact opposite of this, you build forts to hold back the waves of monsters, construct turrets to reduce enemy numbers and add your own firepower where its needed most, The problem with this is when you construct defenses you’re limiting your character’s mobility, you’re filling the play area with objects that block movement, this might seem like a small issue but when you’re only able to use half of your characters strengths it feels a little limiting.
Coupled with this is the issue of how monsters spawn into the playfield, the game takes into account how much of the room you can see and spawns enemies outside of your camera, seems like a good idea but if you walk away from your base for a few seconds the game spawns a monster inside of your defenses and turrets don’t have the largest HP pool, I’ve lost a few just venturing out to collect stars from fallen enemies, again the game is forcing to you stay stationary.
The largest issue which could easily be patched is the turrets AI, the level one turret rotates so slowly it often doesn’t have a chance to hit anything before the players already taking care of it, its a little annoying when you’ve saved up resources to place a turret only for it to barely make any impact on the game. they are also coded in a rather strange way, when designing a turret you’d imagine it would find a target, rotate to aim at target and then fire but no, these turrets begin firing the moment a target is in range regardless of whether the turret is aimed at it, this results in shots fired into thin air, this becomes a larger issue with the level 3 turret which does high damage but has a long time between shots. The first shot is wasted and by the time the turret has an enemy lined up the second shot is 3-4 seconds away.
All in all the base defense of Sleep Tight is a little underdeveloped but don’t let that put a put a damper on your day, The gameplay is fun and varied, the number of upgrade paths and characters to unlock leaves you with buckets of content and plenty of replay value. I hope to see more from this developer in the future.
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