I played Citizen Sleeper right before moving to a new city on my own this year, and the experience of coming to a foreign, terrifying space—only to build a home there against all odds, finding reasons to stay—was one of those irreplaceable indie gaming moments that changed the way my brain's wired. To say I'm excited for Citizen Sleeper 2: Starward Vector is an understatement, even if I'm sure it'll make me bawl my eyes out all over again.
Thankfully, developer Jump Over The Age is being charitable, allowing me to do so for the low price of a Game Pass sub, as revealed during Xbox's showcase at Gamescom 2023.
"You can expect the same freeform tabletop RPG-inspired dice based gameplay," says creator Gareth Damian Martin, "with slice-of-life stories and relatable characters. But this time you'll have a ship, build a crew, and take on contracts as you explore the Starward Belt, trying to make end's meet."
This is a dramatic shift in setting—the first game was, for me, about carving out a space for myself in a hi-tech hellscape on the corpse of an old station. Eventually, I stopped needing to worry about resources and became downright comfortable. To go from homebody to nomad is a major change, and narrative is the first game's lifeblood.
"It's my attempt to capture what's special about stories like Cowboy Bebop and Firefly, where it's not about hauling tons of titanium across the galaxy, but it's about getting into trouble with a complex cast of characters, improvising, making do, and always running on the edge of disaster."
Martin goes on to show one of the locations you'll be visiting with your crewmates—Hexport, a bustling hub built on the back of three abandoned solar reflectors, taking advantage of their free power. It's in keeping with the first game's themes, with societies and industries continuing to find ways to spring up around the husks of massive capitalist collapses.
I'm psyched for Jump Over The Age's heartfelt storytelling to get me all misty-eyed again, and I'm equally fascinated by the switch in stakes. If I'm always passing through, how will I grow attached to the setting in the same way? I'm willing to bet good credits it'll manage anyway. At the time of writing you can still play the first Citizen Sleeper on Game Pass, as well as its three episodes of DLC.