After diving off the sinking ship that was the Guitar Hero franchise, upping the plastic instrument count in cupboards the world over with its Rock Band follow up and inspiring more awkward dancing than a Mick Jagger/Peter Garrett stage show with its Dance Central series, developer Harmonix is returning to its controller-gimmick free roots with A City Sleeps.
A genre mash-up of (deep breath) rhythm game meets dual stick bullet hell shooter, A City Sleeps is mechanically reminiscent of cult classic Rez, albeit with a heavy dose of neon visuals if they were rendered via the UbiArt engine. It tells the story of Poe, a dream exorcist tasked with cleansing the demons infesting the nightmares of the citizens of SanLo, the titular city.
Rather than using a procedural generation method based upon the dynamics of whatever music is fed to the game, Harmonix is bent on delivering a handcrafted experience which provides an unparalleled level of synergy between gameplay mechanics, level design and music. As they themselves put it, the soundtrack will “drive player projectiles, enemy spawning, movement, and bullet patterns.”
In order to ramp up its replayability, A City Sleeps features a number of customisable options. Alongside a trio of difficulty levels, Poe is also able to equip a range of ‘relics’, as well as call on ‘ghost familiars’. By instructing her ghosts to possess objects found throughout the level, Poe will gain access to a range of defensive and offensive capabilities depending on the combination used.
It would seem that a degree of hard earned financial stability coupled with the evolution of the PC market over the past decade has allowed Harmonix to take a chance on this off-beat downloadable title.
A City Sleeps is currently available for preorder on Steam, with a scheduled release in October.