Sawbuck Gamer

Deep Sleep

Snooze Alarm

Deep Sleep is a microcosm of horror you’ll want to wake from.

By Joe Keiser • October 9, 2012

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

There are some real scares in Deep Sleep, but what’s impressive is how little the game needs to accomplish this. They say horror really is about the things you don’t see, and Deep Sleep takes this axiom to the absolute limit. This is a lo-fidelity, mouse-driven adventure game with pixels so large and visuals so gritty, you can hardly see anything. That’s all well and good for lurking nightmares, but not so good when you can’t read the fourth digit of the access code you need to continue exploring.

Even when you can see what you’re doing, gameplay mistakes as old as the graphical style jar the experience. The game will occasionally ask you to pick up items that both seem purposeless and are difficult to discern. Sometimes it will require feats of clairvoyance to figure out what to do next, due to a complete lack of context. There’s also significant confusion about lighthouse architecture—that problem is new.

Horror could well be about what they don’t show you. Puzzles are definitely about what they don’t show you, though they still have to show you something. In trying to achieve the former, Deep Sleep has misplaced the line for the latter. That’s a little scary.

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795 Responses to “Snooze Alarm”

  1. Effigy_Power says:

    Five articles in one day?

    • Girard says:

       At least they were courteous enough to post a capsule review of an apparently crappy game, so it won’t cost you the time to play it, unless you’re a sadist.

      You’re not a sadist, are you?

    • ChumJoely says:

      Since pretty much nobody except the Gameological experts will be posting to this article, here’s a random question: Is there any way at this site to get notifications about replies to my posts, or even see my own profile?!  There doesn’t seem to be a convenient/obvious place to access that info, as there is in the top bar at the AV Club.  Help?!
      I see that I can click on “Show profile” from one of my own messages, but that seems to be generic information that I can see about any user… like how do I even edit my own profile on here?

  2. one2ohmygod says:

    Oh my god, this game sucked. 

  3. The_Misanthrope says:

    This is one of those games in the so-called “escape” sub-genre of casual games.  Actually, it was the winner of this year’s Casual Game Design Competition, whose theme just happened to be “escape”.  It’s like if all the worst aspects of class graphic-adventure games–pixel hunting, illogical/noncontextual puzzle solutions–had their own devoted fanbase.

    That said, aside from the retro graphics getting making it hard to pick out things or where you can or cannot interact, this is actually one of the better examples of the subgenres.  Much of this is probably due to the fact that the dream-logic of the game goes well with the tortured game-logic that has you picking up everything in case it’s useful later.

  4. frogandbanjo says:

    The problem with this genre is that it only takes one bug or “unfair” puzzle to ruin the whole game. If one thing makes absolutely no sense to you even after you cheat, then it’s just a massive click-everything-fest from there on out, which is no fun at all.

    This particular game had a lot of “unfair” puzzles in it, in my opinion – and that’s even setting aside the genre-wide problem of there being horrible consequences for failing to put your mouse exactly where the game’s code says that the item is on your screen.

    Oh, you didn’t click exactly on the barely-visible knob of the fifteenth cupboard from the left? Well that means you’re a dummy, dummy. Way to not think outside the box!