I apologize for being late to the party–though I’m always late to the party or never invited to begin with, cue the industry standard wah wah waaaaah sound effect–but I’ve just discovered this Game Jolt website, which is full of free-to-play Flash and downloadable games, spanning all the genre categories we’ve come to embrace over the decades, such as action, adventure, platformer, and so on. Basically, it is stuffed with stuff, and I’m sure not everything is the height of excellence, but one will never know until they look. I already examined my fear of lakes with Lakeview Cabin, which I found to be really engaging despite the lack of a clear goal, and now I’m here to share with y’all the point-and-click spookiness that is Deep Sleep.
No surprise here, but the game is about lucid dreaming. That’s the rare phenomenon when a person becomes aware that they are dreaming, existing in a peculiar place between consciousness and not. I can’t really say I’ve experienced it myself, though I do occasionally have dreams where a bell or phone is making noise only to snap immediately out of it and realize my alarm clock is going off. Don’t think that’s the same thing, but the queer feeling taking over my body a second after all that goes down is still hard to shake. It’s not explicitly clear who you are playing as in scriptwelder’s adventure-horror game, but you have somehow gained consciousness within a nightmare and must find a way to wake up.
As a point-and-click adventure game, Deep Sleep works just fine. You move across various static screens and click on items to pick them up or receive a description. Some puzzles block your progress forward, but they’re designed logically, so you basically just have to think about how you would, in real life, open a very hot crank handle to a boiler. Oh, and there’s a wee bit of pixel hunting, as some screens are very dark before you get the flashlight, and even then you might miss some key detail nestled in the corner. I did finish the game without using all the items, so I’m not sure if I just missed the spot to use the piece of coal, golden statue, and hook or if they were superfluous to begin with.
As a horror game, Deep Sleep is pretty effective, though I found it more unnerving the entire way through than downright scary. The “you have to wake up” recording is exceptionally creepy, as is the monster design and unsafe feeling you get as it follows you from room to room. There’s some fantastic sound design, with locked doors still shaking me on the inside thanks to my recent journey through Silent 2‘s apartment complex hallways. The game has a grainy look to it, which actually works better than you might initially suspect. And like a dream, it is piecemeal and littered with gaps in its storytelling, as well as a dab of uncertain world-building, but that’s okay–that’s ultimately the point. It is meant to keep you guessing, a mix of the real and unreal.
It’s clear why Deep Sleep earned first place for the Casual Gameplay Design Competition #10. If the stars ever align, I hope to be able to show you, too. Evidently there’s already a sequel ready for me to play, called Deeper Sleep. I’ll probably check it out soon, or maybe I should hold out for Even More Deeper Sleep. Thank you, thank you–try the fish.