The Perfect Playroom
There are many things that can affect one’s opinion of a piece of media, but I think one that often goes unnoticed is the environment one is in when consuming said media. An easy example I can roll out is concerning movies. After all, how many times have you or someone you know said that a movie was much better in the theater than watching it at home?
When you’re seeing a movie in a theater, you’re seeing it in a controlled environment. The room you are in is specifically made to show movies, with everything from lighting and ambiance to the chairs you sit in (hopefully) tuned just right to give you the best experience. Toss that same film into you DVD player attached to a 30′ screen with basic two-channel sound, though, and many will say the experience is notably worse.
Well, the same can be said for video games as well. “But,” you may ask, “aren’t video games made specifically to be consumed at home, or on the go?” Well, for the general consumer, yes. For members of the media, though, some developers and publishers will try and create the best environment possible to present their games. After all, gaming media is a way many consumers get their information about upcoming releases, so it bodes well for the developer to give a reporter the best experience possible for their game, to help influence the news and opinions published about it.
As a personal case in point, the game we’re looking at today. Sleep Tight is a little indie title that myself and a couple other members of GE got to try out in an off-the-show-floor demo at E3 2018. All of us, myself included, enjoyed our initial experience with the game (with one of us going so far as to call the game “ingenious” in our Hands-On article about it).
However, we were also in a pretty comfortable and controlled environment. Nice chairs to sit in, refreshments served, members of the dev team and PR around to guide us through the game, and (most importantly) a demo of the game presenting very specific portions of it. We also got to see our editor-in-chief fight monsters with Nerf guns after the demo, providing lasting stupidly-entertaining memories of the experience. We came out of the demo quite impressed.
Now I’ve had the actual game in my hands for a couple weeks, and have played it in a more typical environment – in front of my PC in my affordable-quality desk chair, suffering through a heat wave with no A/C, and having the full game at my disposal. Needless to say, my opinion has changed a bit.
Developed and published by We Are Fuzzy, Sleep Tight was released on July 26th, 2018, for both Switch and PC via Steam. The PC version was played for this review.
Defend Your Turf
Sleep Tight puts you in the shoes of a young child, fighting off waves of monsters trying to attack him or her in their bedroom after the sun sets. This is done through a combination of tower defense and twin-stick shooter mechanics. We’ve already gone in-depth with the game’s mechanics in our aforementioned Hands-On article about the game, so check that out for the basic rundown.
Having the full game in my hands, I can confirm that the base gameplay is just as solid as what we experienced at E3. The combat is intuitive and responsive, and the limited ammo you take into each round forces you to take the time to think and be precise with shots, rather than just spray and pray. Fort building is rather simple (consisting mostly of barricades and turrets), but there is quite a bit of room for creativity in the design of your fort layout.
The main problem with this game rears its head after the first ten rounds (or “nights” in game lingo) of battle…also known as the length of the demo we played at E3. Through these rounds the difficulty slowly ramps up, introducing a few new varieties of monsters, and leads to the tenth-night “blood moon” battle against a much more vicious horde. Then you move on to the eleventh night and proceed to do everything all over again. And again. And again.
The issue is repetition, pure and simple. After those first ten nights, you’ve seen pretty much everything the game has to offer. The only thing that changes after that is more monsters, faster monsters, and palette-swaps of the same monsters that take more hits to kill. Sleep Tight is essentially endless, and only ends when you either get overrun or just bored from the monotony of performing the same tasks over and over.
The game attempts to add variety through both weapons and upgrading your fort. Unfortunately, the various weapons you can use don’t have all that much difference between them, except maybe rate of fire. Once I unlocked the Long Shot rifle, it became the only weapon I used; a single-shot weapon good for ammo conservation that could take down most enemies in one or two shots. The responsive gunplay I mentioned earlier also means I pretty much never had a wasted shot, and most enemies never got anywhere near me.
Really, once I had the Long Shot, playing around with building my fort went out the window as well. I just set up a basic perimeter with barricades, placed one or two basic turrets, and would replace them whenever they got destroyed. Thirty nights on and I was still basically invincible.
Sleep Tight does offer up twelve different characters to play as, each having their own “specialty” such as researching power-ups and focusing on building defenses. No matter which character I played as, though, I never felt that I had to change up my approach to best utilize them. All I had to do was get my Long Shot rifle, maybe upgrade it a bit, and the game was done.
…Children’s Voices Are Annoying, Though
If there’s one thing Sleep Tight has going for it, its the charm in its visual presentation. Yes, there’s only a single environment in the game, but it fits the game’s theme perfectly: a child’s bedroom set up as a makeshift base with pillow-forts everywhere. It’s like the kind of thing that would come out of my imagination as a child, augmenting an everyday environment into something more exciting.
The audio presentation, though…whoo boy. The music for this game feels like it was done in Danny Elfman’s style, being weirdly bouncy and bubbly even during combat. It fits aesthetically, being that this game is presenting a monster invasion in a child’s imagination after all. Much like the game, though, it gets incredibly repetitive, to the point where I really think there’s only three or so tracks in the game – daytime, nighttime, and blood moon fights.
Faring even worse is the voice acting. All of the kinds have various voiced quips that they’ll shout out during battle…and all of them are horribly grating. The lines are overly loud and actually drown out the background music most of the time. We get repetition here as well, with each character having maybe four or five lines that they’ll shout over and over during each battle.
Nothing On the Foundation
Overall, Sleep Tight is a solid base for a game, but doesn’t have nearly enough built on to it. This is a title that feels like it’d be a better fit as a browser or mobile game rather than a full-fleged PC/console release. Yes, this is a budget title (currently $14.99 on Steam at the time of writing), but the devs putting on a whole off-premise gimmicky presentation at E3 makes me feel that they see this game as much more than a budget release.
Really, I think I would’ve preferred the Switch version of this title more than the PC release. The game feels made more for quick bursts of gaming on the go, which definitely leans more toward the Switch’s forte. Even then, I still believe this game would get stale just as quick even if played in shorter spurts.
More content could have gone a long way here, but as it is, despite its strong base gameplay, Sleep Tight isn’t really worth a recommendation.
~ Final Score: 6/10 ~
Review copy provided by We Are Fuzzy. Screenshots taken by reviewer.