Some games are sold on their mechanics, their worlds, their stories or their sense of humour. Sleep Tight is a perfect example of a game that’s selling itself based on a certain visual style. It’s a visual style that it nails down to a tee.
New team, We Are Fuzzy, has a great style in its first game and that in itself is worthy of praise.
It’s a shame then that this gorgeous game is writing cheques its gameplay just can’t cash.
Sleep Tight is an adorable little top-down twin-stick shooter that looks and sounds like something straight off the Pixar cutting room floor. It’s full of bright colours, inventive designs and plenty of childlike wonder.
Sleep Tight makes a great first impression, but beyond the shiny surface, the game itself tends to get repetitive, stale and even after some pre-release patches, it still has an unfinished feel to it.
“Every parent tells their child that the monsters aren’t real. But how come every kid has the same story?”
This is the base that Sleep Tight builds itself upon. The idea that all the world over kids are protecting their bedrooms from the big bad monsters that live under the bed.
In the broadest sense, Sleep Tight is a wave survival game that tasks you with building an impenetrable pillow fort that will last until morning. Each night you grab your Super Soaker, Nerf gun and homemade barricades and fend off wave after wave of crawling, slobbering beasties who threaten your good night’s sleep.
All the creatures that you face throughout the campaign look like background characters straight out of Monsters Inc. And really the artists working on Sleep Tight can’t get enough praise from me.
They have great visual variety, some being small and fast skittering little things, while others are big bruisers that stomp and thump into your defenses.
The Best Defence
The defenses you build are also an endearing combination of pillows, cardboard, duct tape and toys that give the game an authentic look at the inside of a kid’s imagination.
The rosters of enemies also beef up logically as you pass night after night. Sleep Tight slowly adds one or two new enemy types every few waves. Along with this ever,y tenth wave is a Blood Moon, which although it wasn’t really explained in the game, seems like it beefs up the number and power of the monsters thrown at you.
As you progress through each night you earn Stars from every monster you kill, and at the end of the night, you earn a static amount of Suns. Between the Stars and the Suns, you need to buy ammo, health, new guns, as well as building turrets and pillow forts to hold off the monsters.
This constant resource management can be exciting as you get into the higher levels, as you’ll find yourself weighing up whether you’d prefer a new water-balloon cannon or a personal shield.
These resources also need to stretch to cover static defenses that can be placed around the map. You’ve got three levels of auto-turrets to choose from, as well as three levels of walls and a handful of upgrades for each.
As you progress through the levels you’ll rack up Stars which can be banked for future waves, and Suns which need to be spent before you can start the next wave.
That’s an interesting choice, because it forces you to always spend every Sun you have, even if you’re just stocking up on ammo or converting the leftovers into Stars.
I didn’t mind it as a limitation, but a number of times I found myself wanting to keep ahold of my Suns because I only had two and the next upgrade I wanted cost three.
Things that go bump in the night
Onto the things that bugged me about Sleep Tight. While the visual style is really quirky and fun, there’s a distinct lack of variety to the proceedings, even as you push through to the later levels.
By the time I unlocked most of the characters, I felt like I’d seen everything the game had to offer, and I had found a defence layout that was churning through enemies for me.
There are twelve different characters in the game, each with a small paragraph of backstory and a unique model and voice. You unlock them one by one as you progress through the game, and the challenge to unlocking each of them is clearly shown on the character select screen.
For some of them need you to complete 25 waves to unlock, while others need you to kill a certain number of enemies over the course over your campaign.
One of the issues I had is that beyond the unique voices, each character felt much the same. For example, Wyatt the Cowboy starts with a shotgun, which gives the early levels a slightly different flavour, while Lynn the Astronaut Scientist has a 20% discount on research skills.
But they both have access to the same skills, the same weapons and each take place on the same map.
When I was firing up a different character I was really hoping to see a different map from the previous one, but no matter who you play as you always get the same large open room with your bed, desk and toy chest in the same spots.
I would have loved to see each character with a unique layout that made them a different challenge. I’d love to see how a long thin room or a winding corridor changes the tried and true tactics of setting up a bunch of walls in a square or beck into the corner and surround yourself with turrets.
Beyond that, I would have loved to see some multiplayer options, especially since Sleep Tight is being released on the Switch as well as the PC. All of the different characters are just crying out for a co-operative mode and I don’t know about you, but horde style games always feel better with friends to me.
Lastly, I had some lingering issues that just made the game feel unpolished.
Such as when a turret or wall was almost dead, it would swap its usual bright and colourful texture for a matte red texture. I also found that although I could upgrade and repair turrets by clicking on them to open a menu, the same was never true for walls – despite tooltips saying I could.
So when a wall was dying I was forced to just watch it go instead of repairing it between rounds.
All this might seem like I’m pretty down on Sleep Tight. But in the end, it feels like a game that’s hot out of the gate, but falls short after the first lap. It’s all style, but gets weighed down by some technical issues and a lack of variety.
If you’re someone with kids who will thrive on the bright colours, simple mechanics and relatively simple learning curve – Sleep Tight might be a great way to spend an afternoon.
But if you’re looking for a nostalgic game that’ll challenge you as a gamer, you might want to hold off until We Are Fuzzy announce some plans for post-launch.
Sleep Tight was reviewed on PC using a code provided by the developer.
Game Title: Sleep Tight
Great visuals and world - 8.9/10
A bit samey as it wears on - 5.5/10
Frustating bugs - 4/10