A City Sleeps, the twin stick shooter from Rock Band creator Harmonix, is exactly what it reports to be, you guide Poe through 3 brightly coloured levels, each containing 3 stages including a boss fight. A City Sleeps’ music is clearly it’s defining feature. Although an amazing original score does not make a fun game, it starts off strong with the way music is introduced into each level.
Driving gameplay, both you and your enemies firing add to the beat as well as the placeable turrets, making playing through levels for the first time an enjoyable process of discovery. The problem with A City Sleeps though is that it only contains three levels overall with the emphasis being on replaying levels on each of the five difficulties.
While artificially extending the length of a game by adding difficulty can be a motivating factor, A City Sleeps suffers from the higher difficulties just making the game tedious. Small mistakes result in having to start whole stages again and while you are given a dash there aren’t any invincibility frames attached to it so on the later levels and difficulties when projectiles essentially fill the whole screen dashing just makes you fly through a load of bullets which all damage you.
The game doesn’t look particularly astounding, basic sprites make up all the characters, the games boss battles are just enemies made up of a few moving parts despite their size, not to say the game looks bad but it’s definitely nothing to write home about. It also tries to add a strategic element by adding in turrets than can be placed contextually throughout each level.
Different turrets have different effects e.g. healing or damaging enemies. Where you place the turrets also affects how you they are used: placing them on a triangular slot or a square slot will change their effects from rapidly firing to damaging an area in less frequent pulses.
Aside from the music A City Sleeps is nothing special, the game is short and attempts to lengthen it only make it less fun. Overall disappointing.