Have you ever been afraid of things going bump in the night? Many of us like to put on a brave face and scoff at the idea of admitting weakness, but when we were wee little kids, there was always a possibility of a malevolent force hiding in the dark corners of our rooms. The world is so new to a fresh mind and imagination runs wild to the point where it can feel like reality, causing you to pull your covers up in the fear that something will grab your foot as you sleep. But what if you can just shoot the hell out of the boogeymen and build pillow forts to keep them out?
That’s the oddly specific question that Sleep Tight wants to answer. A quirky tower defence game that puts you in the shoes of a bunch of rugrats trying to survive against endless waves of horrific but also kind of cute monsters. It’s an endearing prospect and the initial execution is spot on, but sadly the game struggles to keep the ball rolling and fails to keep your attention for the better part of your playtime.
Sleep Tight is a tower defence game where you’re put in the shoes of a kid in their unrealistically spacious bedroom and during the night, monsters come for your blood. There’s a whole roster of unlockable children that you can play as, but most of them just have small modifiers to the default loadout. You’re always confined to the same bedroom and you always have the same defence systems and upgrades. You play in a top-down perspective with twin-stick shooter controls and you can build defences such as turrets and pillow forts wherever you’d like, giving you the freedom to strategise as you please.
This all works great and the visuals are fantastic in their simple Pixar-esque designs. The theme of innocent child building defence systems out of pillows and NERF guns is adorable and definitely one of the game’s strongest points, but that’s mostly where the fun ends. There’s no campaign and the only thing you can do is survive for as long as you can. With each wave, the enemies become predictably more formidable and your balance of defences and resource management gets tested more frequently.
The game’s management aspects come during the daytime where you’re given a set number of resources to do what you must. You can purchase upgrades that range from passive abilities to making defences cheaper and you can also buy new weapons. The weapons are clever little spins on traditional weaponry where they’re made into kid-friendly guns such as a supersoaker or a waterballoon cannon. Your resources are very limited so you have to weigh your options such as getting better turrets versus having ammo for the coming and health for the coming night.
The theme of innocent child building defence systems out of pillows and NERF guns is adorable.
This gives the game a pretty robust strategy layer and if you execute it well, it can be very satisfying. If you have pillow walls lining your room with rocket spewing turrets behind them that obliterate the nasties that rush you down, you feel an immense sense of accomplishment. Sure, it all eventually tumbles down as you get overwhelmed, but having your room look like a childhood version of Vietnam is great. If you don’t do it correctly though, you can expect a swift end as the enemies don’t relent.
What I’ve described shortly above is the extent of the entire game. Unfortunately, the game’s Achilles’ heel is its lack of variety. The characters, while cute with their little quips and adorable designs, are not noteworthy enough to have any impact on the game. There aren’t enough defences to make things really pop and while you can make a death gauntlet for the nightmares chasing you down, it will mostly be three varieties of walls and turrets. No thumbtacks, Home Alone style traps or interesting contraptions.
The enemies have great designs, but they’re extremely limited in their variation. It’s the same style of monster but the more difficult ones are bigger or have horns. Each run is the same and you don’t have any macro goals to reach like having a special currency that allows you to improve passive skills when you ultimately die. It’s the same song and dance every run and due to the limited nature of the mechanics, there isn’t much to keep you captivated.
The game’s Achilles’ heel is its lack of variety.
Sleep Tight has the foundations of an excellent game. The charm is there, the controls are there, the concepts are there, but it feels woefully unfinished and not fleshed out enough. More systems and more variety in your defending would have catapulted this game to the greats of the genre, but sadly it falls way too short. I wouldn’t say that it’s unworthy of your time as there are many things to love about this little game, but there’s absolutely nothing to get excited about. I found myself growing bored way too quickly, even so far as the first few runs, because I’ve seen everything already at that point.
It’s a shame, but Sleep Tight didn’t make me want to play it into the night.