Gamers, Game of the Year season is coming up. We're about to hit the arbitrary deadline by which time you must have played all of 2022's good games for your opinions on them to matter and for your efforts to be worthwhile. What's more, the deadline is closer than you think. Hey, it's only mid-October, right? The goalposts are still two and a bit months away. Aren't they?
Don't kid yourself – we have no less than 20 games with serious GOTY list potential coming out between now and the end of the year. The best time to start clearing your backlog was last month, and the second best time is now. You are out of options. Play your backlog or you’ll have to mutter noncommittally at the end of the year when GOTY season rolls around. If you're lost on where to start though, look no further – start with Citizen Sleeper.
This might not seem like the obvious choice. This might, in fact, be the first time you've heard of it. Maybe you don't think 55 hours is enough to fully evaluate Elden Ring, or you're an Nintendo loyalist who feels obligated to at least try Xenoblade Chronicles 3, or despite nobody saying a word about it since launch you still have hopes that when you get around to Horizon Forbidden West it'll be great. I promise you, Citizen Sleeper is the superior choice. First off, it's free on Game Pass, so that's an easy win. Second, it's only six hours long, so is easy to slide in your busy life before the negasonic triple-A warhead goes off. And third, perhaps most interestingly, it represents the cool choice.
When GOTY season rolls around and all your friends are talking about the Sony behemoths, you can laugh derisively and say 'oh you haven't played Citizen Sleeper? My mistake, I thought you were a real gamer'. Trust me, this is a compelling part of the deal. Last year, TheGamer's Game of the Year was The Forgotten City. We were the only gaming site tracked by the official Game of the Year aggregator to crown The Forgotten City, which means we are the coolest and smartest video game site with the best taste. I'm not sure Citizen Sleeper quite has the juice to get there this year, but it's still going to be in the mix.
Of course, what makes Citizen Sleeper great is not that it's a cool video game to talk about at the end of the year, but that it's a cool game to play. As a mostly narrative game, I'm reluctant to talk too much about it and spoil the surprises, but the premise is simple – you are a Sleeper, a robotic android made by a capitalist conglomerate back on Earth. At the beginning of the game, you crash land in a space station that acts as a refuge for Sleepers, but is also inhabited by humans. Through choosing which tasks you complete and making successful dice rolls, you'll get to see different tragic cyberpunk stories play out.
You may choose to prioritise some friends you meet along the way. You may hunt out deeper stories in the back alleys. You might focus on escape, or fitting in, or profit. You'll do all this while maintaining your health and acquiring sustenance. You were built with planned obsolescence so the company could charge customers to replace you, meaning that even though you are an android, you are dying all the same.
Citizen Sleeper takes elements of Philip K. Dick and Masamune Shirow, reimagined with satire and critique fresh for 2022. It's sharp, intelligent, and deserves more love ahead of Game of the Year season. What's more, it's short and it's free. Play it now before it's too late. And like an android slowly rotting, it'll be too late sooner than you think.
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