Monday, 27 May 2024

A City Sleeps Review

Harmonix, known for its music-focused games like Rock Band and Dance Central, brings us a unique twist with A City Sleeps. This hardcore bullet hell action game introduces protagonist Poe, a member of The Silk, a lineage of dream exorcists. Each stage represents a client’s nightmare infected by the dark force called Kami. Armed with a blade that shoots energy and switches to melee combat up close, Poe battles to cleanse these nightmares.

The Power of Sound

Right from the start, the importance of sound in A City Sleeps becomes apparent. The beats of the music synchronize with every projectile you fire, creating a dynamic gameplay experience. Each enemy also brings its own unique sounds, like the techno blast from a large wasp or the acoustic guitar riff from a thorny plant. The core mechanics of the game are solid, and the music gimmick truly immerses you in the gameplay (although playing on mute provides a different experience).

Partner Ghosts and Strategic Gameplay

One of the standout features in A City Sleeps is the ability to summon partner ghosts. These ghosts can be placed in totems at scripted points throughout the stages. Choosing the right partner ghost and loadout is crucial for success, as each ghost has two different powers depending on whether they are placed in a fast or slow totem. With powers ranging from health emitters to chain lightning, players must strategize and plan their approach to each level. Experimenting with different combinations adds a layer of strategy and satisfaction to the game.

Boss Battles and Tactical Choices

The tactical choices and strategic gameplay also apply to the challenging boss battles. While totems may not always be available in every section, they are extremely helpful in surviving the intense and creative level closers. Players must weigh the tradeoff between offense and defense, deciding whether to prioritize health pickups or focus on offensive capabilities. The game’s soundtrack even controls the activation of these powers, making it crucial to learn the songs and enemy wave patterns. Mastering these tactics allows players to feel like absolute badasses as they navigate the screen, taking out enemies with precision.

A Lack of Content

Unfortunately, A City Sleeps falls short in terms of content. With only three stages in the game, the primary gameplay loop involves replaying them on progressively harder difficulties. While each version features new enemy placements and increased bullet patterns, the overall theme and feel of the stages remain the same. This lack of variety may dissuade casual and mid-level players from returning. Additionally, to unlock new ghosts and equippable boosts, players must conquer these new difficulty levels. This gating of content may feel like a punishment to players who are unable to progress, rather than offering meaningful rewards.


Q: Is A City Sleeps suitable for casual players?
A: While the game is designed to challenge hardcore players, casual players may find the lack of content and difficulty progression to be discouraging.

Q: Are there any unlockable rewards in the game?
A: Yes, players can unlock new ghosts and equippable boosts by conquering higher difficulty levels.

Q: Can you play A City Sleeps without sound?
A: While it is possible to play the game without sound, the music synchronization adds an immersive and dynamic element to the gameplay experience.


A City Sleeps presents an intriguing take on shoot ’em ups with its unique music-focused mechanics and strategic gameplay. While it may lack in content and accessibility for casual players, it offers a challenging experience for hardcore gamers. With its solid core mechanics and engaging soundtrack, A City Sleeps has the potential to captivate players who enjoy the bullet hell genre.