Available On: PC, Switch
Sleep Tight presents the classic monster-in-the-closet tale and transforms it into a kid-themed tower defense game, married with the gun-play of a twin-stick shooter. Both aspects are decently executed if a bit shallow, and the theme of defending your bedroom against an onslaught of Pixar-friendly monsters is a fun one.
Yet Sleep Tight lacks the mechanical depth of other tower defense games, and surviving against the hordes is more of an exercise in quantity over quality.
They Mostly Come at Night
Sleep Tight’s limitations are evident right from the beginning. The only option when starting a game is to select one of the scrappy kid-defenders. You begin with only one and must unlock the others by surviving a number of nights, or performing specific tasks such as not firing a single shot for eight waves.
Different kids may start with different weapons, or provide discounts on powerups or towers. Kid choice will naturally dictate your chosen path, but regardless of whom you select, the gameplay is largely the same.
You are given a relatively small square space to defend – your bedroom. Monsters begin spawning from all around, just off screen. You can attack with a number of different weapons, though you must purchase them first. Enemies continue to spawn until the sun comes up.
After night time is up, the game switches to day mode. Here I’m given unlimited time to purchase upgrades, unlock research, and build towers and walls.
Sleep Tight uses two different forms of currency. Suns are given each day and used to activate powerups, as well as building or researching anything. They’re impossible to stockpile as using them all is what triggers the next night. Stars, on the other hand, are dropped from enemies and can be saved up. Later upgrades and research cost hundreds of stars, but unlock stronger turrets, better guns, auto-healing walls, and more efficient ammo.
Bump in the Dark
With every run I choose between two main strategies: buy upgrades, guns, and powerups for myself, or upgrade all my defenses and let them do the work. Given that ammo quickly becomes a big draw on my resources, using towers (which have unlimited ammo) always feels like the better play. Yet it’s bizarre to play a top-down, twin-stick shooter without needing to fire a single shot.
The controls work fine but the guns lack any kind of punch. This is probably intentional as the weapons the kids use are dart guns and water balloons, but they feel wholly unsatisfying to use. I was also continually annoyed by the need to continually purchase ammo. A twin-stick shooter wants to shoot all the time, yet here I constantly had to conserve ammo to be able to afford other upgrades.
Enemies aren’t terribly interesting either. The monsters have very little variety. They basically just get bigger in size and require more shots to take down. It also takes far too long to get challenging on the standard mode, easily reaching Night 20+ before things get the least bit difficult. My average run lasted an hour, and if I went heavy on the turrets, I could sit and do nothing most nights.
There are some nifty bonus modes, though it takes forever to unlock them (represented by the bottom row of kids). One of the kids actually switches the perspective to first-person, which is an incredibly clever way of changing how you approach the game. Others are a bit more standard, including starting with a huge sum of stars and suns, then tasked with surviving an endless night. These extra modes do a great job breaking up the standard gameplay, but it’s a shame you have to grind through hours of monotonous survival to unlock them.
Sleep Tight is rated E for Everyone. Its biggest strength is the kid theme. Walls are made out of couch cushions and chairs, and turrets and guns fire darts and water (the kids themselves are also cutely voiced). The monsters look like they wandered off the set of Monsters, Inc or Sesame Street, and fade away when defeated. The gameplay is intuitive and simple enough to be enjoyed by young kids, but it’s a big bummer that it lacks any kind of cooperative multiplayer.
Sleep Tight isn’t a bad game, but there are a number of stellar, indie-produced, action-focused tower defense games to choose from. Aside from the kid-angle, Sleep Tight doesn’t really do anything special or unique, and the enemy variety and shooting are particularly lacking.
But if you’re looking for a lighter, breezier tower defense game that you can quickly pick up and play – or hand off to your kids – Sleep Tight can definitely hold some value.