Comparisons will be made between Sleep Tight, the first release from indie game developer We Are Fuzzy, and the world of Disney’s Pixar — and they shouldn’t be shrugged off. Creative director Maxx Burman brought in some of his Disney friends to help design this twin-stick shooter/base-builder, including Dylan Ekren from Zootopia. The result is a fun, quite addictive concept that looks and feels like if the Monsters Inc. expanded universe were placed in the context of a kid-friendly arcade-style brawl.
Sleep Tight is something straight out of a storybook: You play as a kid who arms nerf guns and builds the most epic pillow forts during the day, because when night falls monsters that look like some of Mike and Sully’s coworkers will burst from the shadows to get you. Not on your watch!
Joe is the beginner’s player of choice. Armed with a simple nerf gun, he waits out the clock by fending off imaginary creatures until day breaks. With each night survived, you receive eight “suns,” which can be traded in during the day for skills, weapons, ammunition, health, defenses, and upgrades. Fortunately, there’s no need to buy specific ammo for specific weapons — it’s all universal — but they are easy to expel. Aiming can be difficult, especially as you’re shooting in motion, so be prepared to waste through darts.
You must use up all eight suns before the next night can commence. Killing monsters will give you “stars,” which can also be cashed in. Some items require a certain number of suns and stars. So are you going to restock your weapons, lick your wounds, or build up your fort? Resource management is key here because the more nights you survive, the more monsters are going to arrive.
The options for the kind of weapons and defenses you wield are slim, which could be off-putting for players looking for something more complex. Turrets and fort walls only come in light, medium, and heavy modes — although, you can have some of them explode when destroyed with the right upgrade. So there’s that.
Other characters can be unlocked by completing different challenges. Surviving 25 nights in a row, for instance, will unlock cowboy Wyatt; surviving 35 nights will unlock long-shooter Willow; and surviving eight nights without firing a single shot will unlock Rosie and her turret. There are plenty more characters and each already comes with his or her own personalized weaponry.
The premise is simple enough for monster-hunters-in-training to get into, while intriguing enough to keep veteran fighters trudging through the hordes of beasties. You’ll need to be invested because these runs become surprisingly difficult. If you’re not prepared, you will easily be mowed down. The difficultly often inspires you to become more creative. There’s no one way to set up your fort or to place your turrets. Just be careful not to box yourself in. The maneuverability of the character is so seamless (once you get used to it) that one can forget you need to have an exit route between your blasters and couches. Tearing down forts and turrets to create more space will also cost you suns and stars.
Sleep Tight is a solid start for a game with heart that feels eager to expand. By the 25th night in, you’ll want it to expand. Though the monsters get bigger, faster, and meaner the more you progress, there is only one setting and a finite number of resources you can wield. The developers aren’t exactly working with the resources of a Disney corporation, but what they do have is definitely worth bulking up. DLCs, perhaps?
Sleep Tight is available now on Nintendo Switch and Steam for $14.99.