Is this a game to sleep on?
Pokémon Sleep has been a bit of an enigma ever since its reveal in 2019 and nobody quite knew what to make of it or even how it could possibly work. After years of silence, finally, in 2023, we have the game so weâve fully got to grips with what's on offer, and it is definitely an interesting one. Weâve spent over a week with Pokémon Sleep, which includes a full week cycle of all of the mechanics.
The basics of Pokémon Sleep are quite simple; you just have to sleep. Each night you can load the game, enter sleep time and put the phone, or Pokémon GO Plus + on your bed in order for it to track your sleep through motion, and if using your phone, audio. The game does recommend you do this while charging your device, but you can track sleep without plugging it in as long as your phone has sufficient battery. If you record over 90 minutes of sleep, then your sleep session will be logged. The game doesn't reset the day until 4am as well so if you stay up late at night, it'll still count towards the previous day.
In the morning, or when your sleep session is done, your sleep session is rated. This is done solely based on duration so the longer your session, the better. The game counts up to 8 and a half hours for adults or 11 and a half for under 18s, and your Snorlaxâs Strength is multiplied by that value to determine your Drowsy Power, which attracts Pokémon to the in-game sleeping Snorlax. The higher your Drowsy Power, the better the Pokémon you find.
There are three different types of Sleep that affect your Pokémon: Dozing, Snoozing and Slumbering, with Slumbering being equivalent to deep rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Waking up and seeing such cute Pokémon snoozing sleeping on Snorlaxâs belly is just a great way to wake up, and with Shiny Pokémon also being a possibility, it definitely makes us want to check it every morning.
After waking up and checking your app, you can catalogue all the sleep styles and befriend the Pokémon you have found by giving them PokÃ© Biscuits, which you get as rewards or can buy in the shop. These Pokémon are then used as Helper Pokémon throughout the day to find berries and ingredients to help feed Snorlax and boost its strength for your next sleep cycle. This is done passively through the berries throughout the day or by making Snorlax three different meals. Helper Pokémon can level up and all have specific skills and subskills that unlock as you level to make them even more useful, and Pokémon of the same species will have different skills. There are dozens of ingredients and berries which help you make dozens of meals for your Snorlax.
This process repeats every day until Monday morning when, at the start of every week, your Snorlax will then leave and you have to start again with a new Snorlax which has different meal tastes and preferred berries. Essentially, you're starting from scratch but with increased ranks, improved dishes and upgraded Helper Pokémon, which helps speed up the process and makes tasks easier each week, and with different islands unlocking different Pokémon thereâs definitely variety throughout.
Thatâs the basic structure of the game, but how does it truly feel? While the sleep tracking doesn't mesh up exactly with other sleep tracking devices, it seems fairly solid, even if it does seem to think we take longer to fall asleep than we actually do. One night, it recorded that we took 30 minutes to fall asleep when we were out like a light as soon as our head hit the pillow, which makes us fairly certain that we'll fall into the Slumbering sleep style more than it claims we do. If only. We've tried with both the GO Plus + and the phone and they both tracked fairly similarly, though there is the fear of rolling onto the GO Plus + and deactivating it by mistake.
You can also add friends in-game, and when you do this, you will get a sleep report for everyone on your friend list each day and be able to see how they did and what Pokémon they found. Doing so gives you Candy for Pokémon which can be used to help level your Helper Pokémon or evolve them. This is a fun feature because you can also see your friendâs sleep score so you can sufficiently chastise them if theyâre not getting enough sleep.
The gameplay itself is incredibly passive. Pokémon Sleep is not a game that you can just rush through to collect Sleep Styles and it doesn't want your attention constantly like a lot of other mobile titles. If your Pokémon reaches their limit while collecting berries, for example, they will be given to Snorlax automatically even if you haven't logged in. This game is definitely going to be a long burn, and based on some of the achievements where you need to sleep for the equivalent of 266 days, thereâs certainly intent here for the game to last a while.
The issue is where things could potentially come down to busy work. After only a week of Pokémon Sleep, weâre getting lots of repeat Sleep Styles, even though it says weâve unlocked the ability to get a lot more, which can be very frustrating. We fear that if this continues it would be taking away from the excitement of the game, especially as progress to go to different islands is locked behind finding a set amount of Sleep Styles. At present, there are only 104 Pokémon available, but that has massive potential to expand should the game go forward with further updates and even events, and that would alleviate some of the issues.
The game also has a fair few bugs within it, but the developer is seemingly proactive on fixing them. When we've been feeding the Snorlax and then go to a menu to check something, the game would often spit out an error message and return us to the title screen. Hopefully, these issues will be resolved sooner rather than later, but at the moment it can be a little frustrating.
Now it's time to dive into the big Donphan in the room: the microtransactions. There are two currencies in Pokémon Sleep â Dream Points which can be exchanged for items and are earned by your Sleep Score each day, and the paid Diamonds. Pokémon Sleep is a free-to-play mobile game and it is easy to play without putting money in, but if you want, then you can basically buy tons of items that can speed up progress and help get you items such as a Helper Whistle to get three hours worth of berries and a Good Camp Ticket which gets you an extra Pokémon each day as well as allowing for you to put more ingredients in a dish.
There is also a subscription for 6 months for GBP Â£49.99 / USD $50 which gives you 100 Dream Points extra a day for the item exchange, the ability to save more than 30 days of sleep records at any one time, access to a Premium Exchange for your Dream Points, monthly gifts of a Good Camp Ticket and gives every three months of Candy.
Now that can be more enticing for players if they want to go hard at the game, but itâs not being made mandatory or even encouraged all that much so thereâs little danger of the game being pay-to-win, at least for now. Whether you think itâs a good thing or not, itâs up to you, but we don't feel forced to pay more to keep up at the very least.
Visually, the game is a delight. The Pokémon look great and as they grow tired you can see it reflected in their expressions. The art style is fairly static, with Pokémon moving in a fairly non-fluid movement style, You can definitely see the lineage between this and the developer Select Buttonâs previous game, Magikarp Jump.
The music is also nice and soothing, but subtle, appropriate for the game. However, there are some sound effects that could annoy such as when your Snorlax eats berries, the constant chomping of it could be annoying for some after a while. You can also get the game to play some relaxing sounds if you need some white noise while you sleep. There are multiple that you can get as you progress. The GO Plus + also acts in a similar way offering several lullabies for Pikachu to sing to you as you drift off to sleep.