The first time I heard of “Sleep is Death” was :30 minutes before the pre-order window for it closed. If you’ve played Jason Rohrer‘s other games you might understand why I wondered if this was perhaps a psychological trick played on everyone who visited the site – to entice them into ordering before the window closed… Turns out the countdown was real – and the game was in fact just released shortly after my order.
Though it was difficult to tell from the description and screenshots what exactly “Sleep is Death” would be like – it was based on my experience with Jason’s previous games that I was willing to risk a “blind” purchase to find out. “Passage“, one of his previous titles, brought tears to my eyes – a rare experience that left me wondering what was next.
Now having spent some time (with my girlfriend – you need 2 to play) with “Sleep” – all I can say is how impressed I am. The concept, execution and play experience are all exceptional and unique. As a computer game it has managed to capture so many elements of what make “play” in real life (between real people) fun. Like “The Sims” when it was first released, “Sleep” taps into deceptively simple, yet thoroughly engaging instinctual interaction concepts – taking the “doll house” concept forward another step.
I’d like to describe the “what” of the game – but am afraid that’d be giving away something important. Something you should discover on your own. Suffice to say it is quite literally a toy box – made for two people to enjoy together. In my play testing (again, with my girlfriend) the toy box transformed into a dizzying array of scenarios, interactions and fun. Hours can be spent with this toy – unfolding the possibilities.
Outside the box… another thing I really like about “Sleep” is the publishing model behind it. Jason’s a one-man developer and self-publisher. It’s a pure and simple model which works as a function of the quality of his products and the positive reactions they create in the people that play them. No fancy marketing, no retail supply chain, and no gimmicks – just a one-to-one relationship between you, a game and its developer. So here’s my part in the model – go buy “Sleep is Death”.