Weekplay 202228

Again with the Cyberpunk 2077 (PS5).

A pleasant and welcome surprise is Takemura’s quest line. After spending a lot of time of the filler-quests, I poured some time in the main acts and this particular branch actually produced a very good scene between Takemura and V. Conflict, resolution, foreshadowing, metaphors, and… a cat. Capped off with a nice quest including some free-form elements. Yup, this was very good indeed. Of course, right after I had to bump into a graphic glitch, but I’ll let that one slide. This particular sequence still lingered in the mind. Hopefully there’s more of this to follow.

On the flip side, the clothing/stats upgrade cycle is becoming a real chore. Every garment drop is a random piece of clothing with stats dictated by on your own level. As a result it can be maddening to find an outfit that pleases your role-playing side. Hot-pants and hard-hats do not mix well (not in my mind, at least). Of course, you can simply go to a store and buy a new outfit outright, but apparently good pants are a bit of a rarity in Night City.

Either that or hot-pants are sickeningly overpowered.

I mainly got this because I liked the look of the UI in the screenshots. I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff. What I wasn’t prepared for is that Citizen Sleeper (SD) is just as intoxicating a narrative adventure as Disco Elysium.

What you are playing is in essence a choose-your-own-adventure type of novel. The twist is that this game picks up Tharsis’ dice-survival mechanics1 and blends them in smoothly. Each cycle your condition rolls an amount of dice, and you can use the resulting scores to perform actions. The higher the number, the greater the action’s chance at success and its potential rewards.

Actions differ in riskiness and rewards, applying some satisfying placement-mechanics from the game’s board game brethren. Place a die and hope for the best outcome. Failures cost energy and/or condition. Success means influence and/or credits. It’s a bit of a nudge-able slot machine in that respect, but like such gambling contraptions, success and failure still feel deeply personal while adding a “one more cycle” feel to your experience.

That’s the gist of it and really. There’s more to it you should discover for yourself. The story it tells is intriguing in such a way, that here - once more - is a game that out-cyberpunks Cyberpunk 2077. There’s a slow drip of characters neatly slotting into place, each one having their own needs while bringing a new layer of depth to the story. It’s the game’s way of covering up the slightly obvious questing structure. Still, that doesn’t matter as much as the characters are charming enough. Citizen Sleeper understands its weakness and simply gives you a narrative reward in return. Which considering the genre is brilliant.

I’m getting a sneaking suspicion this one might just rub shoulders with Elden Ring for the GOTY top spot… Truly, it feels like it’ll be this year’s Disco Elysium, and you should at the very least give it a go to see if you’d be missing out on a great experience otherwise.

Playdate’s season approach is reaching Netflix-levels of abundance and the result is me getting a bit overwhelmed by choice. Figures that I’d skip the free stuff and fall for Sparrow Solitaire (PD) instead.

Yup, it’s a Mahjong solitaire game for Playdate, and while that sounds spectacularly problematic on a tiny high-resolution 1-bit portable screen, it’s actually surprisingly solid, with a good range of options, clear theme designs, and a great feel to selection and removal of tiles. You can even use the crank to quickly scroll through all tile selection options. It’s a bit tricky, but also quite fun!

It’s not exactly mind-blowing, but as Bloom demonstrated, it’s great to have a sweet drop-in-drop-out time waster on the Playdate. And this has yet to properly release to boot!

1 Stupid Vincent, nobody remembers Tharsis.