Citizen Sleeper asks you to decide if escape is possible.
It took several minutes of impasse and tears and not touching my controller, for fear of making a decision before I was ready, for me to know what I thought about that question. Citizen Sleeper gives you several potential answers and in the ones that resonated with me was the kind of deep personal freedom you only find, sure enough, through community.
Citizen Sleeper is about disability and body dysmorphia and the inevitability of corruption, and it is about the things the grow among and around those things. The antidotes and the byproducts.
Citizen Sleeper is about collections of people: families, gangs, unions, neighborhoods, corporations, and communes. It is about the individuals that make them up and how their individual needs strengthen or threaten the collective. But for our purposes today, it is about place. Yes the whole of its corporate, colonized space, but also...the aging space station its story takes place on: Erlin's Eye.
The Eye is not exactly a welcoming home, but for a sleeper it is, in many ways, better than what they've come from. In the world of Citizen Sleeper, AI has been outlawed. So as a way of getting around that, the company Essen-Arp pays regular people to emulate their consciousness. It's a way to skirt the rules, but it also relies on there being people desperate enough to participate. These people are asleep in some kind of corporate facility, and their emulated consciousness is downloaded into a constructed body called a Frame. This new person is called a Sleeper, though many in this world would take issue with my calling them a "person." These Sleepers are forced to do some sort of labor for some period of time and when that time is up, the Frame is deactivated, the person whose consciousness they were made from wakes up, and that person gets paid for the work their Sleeper did.
As you might imagine, the Sleeper, an emulated human personality living inside a constructed body and being forced to work their entire life only to benefit another person, might have feelings about this arrangement. So Essen-Arp makes sure that if the Sleeper ever escapes, their Frame, their body, will begin to destabilize. It will break down at an accelerated rate. Death will always come for the Sleeper, either through violence or planned obsolescence.
And this is where the game places you at the start. You are an escaped Sleeper, nearly frozen in a cargo container, just trying to survive long enough to make it to Erlin's Eye. You're not sure where you'll go after that, but you know... well you hope there will be options when you get there.
0:00 - Content Warnings
0:45 - Is escape possible?
3:34 - Why Citizen Sleeper hit me this hard
6:55 - Who does YOUR body belong to?
9:26 - Citizen Sleeper's characters
16:12 - The body is not the self
20:42 - Content Warning: Body feelings
22:34 - Who do YOU belong to?
27:00 - Lem & Mina: An uncertain future
40:27 - Content Warning: Death and grief
42:01 - Where do you BELONG?
44:02 - Getting to know Emphis
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