Citizen Sleeper 2: Starward Vector preview: not one to sleep on

I played an hour of Citizen Sleeper 2, and I can already tell the sequel is even better.
Citizen Sleeper 2: Starward Vector
Citizen Sleeper 2: Starward Vector / Fellow Traveller

You never know which day will be your last. This phrase is at the core of Citizen Sleeper. After escaping the hell you came from, you fight every day for survival, where a poor decision or unlucky roll of a die can lead to the end of your journey. Citizen Sleeper was a breakout game of 2022, blending genres like a management sim, visual novel, tabletop RPG, and ‘choices matter’ flawlessly. It is refreshing, narratively complex, and tense, as if the consequences are real.

Citizen Sleeper 2: Starward Vector was first announced in mid-2023, and fans were curious how developer Jump Over The Age would improve on the formula. The original game had multiple endings and multiple different ways the Sleeper could leave or remain on The Eye, so players were wondering how the story could continue and remain consistent. The sequel doesn’t follow the story of the Sleeper from the original game. Instead, you are a new Sleeper struggling to survive in a new location. It may seem like a repeat of the first game, but there are a number of interesting changes.

Citizen Sleeper 2: Starward Vector gameplay screenshot
Citizen Sleeper 2: Starward Vector / Fellow Traveller

I played around an hour of Citizen Sleeper 2 for a preview, and was told that it featured a vertical slice of the game. You begin by choosing what kind of Sleeper you will be, gaining proficiency in certain skills at the detriment of others. You land at a port without your memories and with a ship with broken fuel lines. Like the original, the rolls of the dice decide your success or failure, but there are changes to the management features. You now manage two gauges: hunger and stress. Hunger builds every day you don’t eat, and stress adds up when you are too hungry, or when you get negative outcomes from your dice rolls. If you accrue too much stress, your dice can break, making future actions more difficult to succeed at.

The preview version started out with many of the same features as the original game. You can work at different locations for currency called Cryo, you can purchase food and supplies, and you can complete tasks that will open up other locations to discover. However, after a few cycles, you will unlock contracts that will float you out into space. Contracts will reward you with large amounts of Cryo or rare items, and completing a contract requires fuel, supplies, and a crew to help out. Your crew will come with their own skills and dice they can use, but they require more supplies to take care of them. Crewmates also accrue stress, and when their stress is full, they will no longer be able to help out on the contract.

Citizen Sleeper 2: Starward Vector skill tree screenshot
Citizen Sleeper 2: Starward Vector / Fellow Traveller

Contracts are based around risk versus reward. Bringing crewmates will give you a better chance of success, and more story options, but they can also be a liability. Deciding who to take with you can be dangerous, and it can also affect the outcome of your contract. I could only complete one contract as part of the preview, but it seemed as if there could have been four different outcomes from just this one mission. These four final outcomes are separate from your smaller choices as you figure out how to complete the contract. Unlike the original Citizen Sleeper, which is set completely on The Eye, contracts will take you out deeper into space with many more locations to explore.

Playing the original Citizen Sleeper, I felt it was a perfect game, and yet even from the small piece I played in the preview, I can tell that the sequel is an improvement. The contracts add so much to the tense atmosphere. Even if you succeed, you will feel on the edge of failure, and not knowing what will happen if you fail is the scariest part of it all. From the time I had with the game, Citizen Sleeper 2 is what all studios aim to do with a sequel: capture the atmosphere, keep the parts that everyone loves, and build and improve on the core concepts.


Published
Georgina Young

GEORGINA YOUNG

Georgina Young is a Gaming Writer for GLHF. They have been writing about video games for around 10 years and are seen as one of the leading experts on the PlayStation Vita. They are also a part of the Pokémon community, involved in speedrunning, challenge runs, and the competitive scene. Aside from English, they also speak and translate from Japanese, German and French. Their favorite games are Pokémon Heart Gold, Majora’s Mask, Shovel Knight, Virtue’s Last Reward and Streets of Rage. They often write about 2D platformers, JRPGs, visual novels, and Otome. In writing about the PlayStation Vita, they have contributed articles to books about the console including Vita Means Life, and A Handheld History. They have also written for the online publications IGN, TechRadar, Space.com, GamesRadar+, NME, Rock Paper Shotgun, GAMINGbible, Pocket Tactics, Metro, news.com.au and Gayming Magazine. They have written in print for Switch Player Magazine, and PLAY Magazine. Previously a News Writer at GamesRadar, NME and GAMINGbible, they currently write on behalf of GLHF for The Sun, USA Today FTW, and Sports Illustrated. You can find their previous work by visiting Georgina Young’s MuckRack profile. Email: georgina.young@glhf.gg