Upon completing Deep Sleep, I craved more. Sullen, I assumed I’d have to wait months or years for a sequel, only to discover the entire trilogy was already complete. I wound up putting it off for some days, not wanting to burn through all of it in a single night, and even when I did play it I prolonged the experience as much as I could.
This is one of those series that will leave you depressed when it’s over, and envious of anybody experiencing it for the first time. That’s you, my lovelies. Don’t underestimate this series because it’s made in Flash, or looks more pixelated than Minecraft. Deeper Sleep, even more than Deep Sleep, is a marvel of horror game design.
It picks up where the last left off, but has you exploring someplace new and different. There are extensive outdoor sections this time, as well as a minor focus on clowns. The puzzles are, if anything, more devious and ingenious than those in Deeper Sleep, frequently requiring you to utilize skills the game never told you were possible.
The payoff for this frustration is that you’ll feel really smart when you figure it out. Don’t shorten the experience by consulting walkthroughs, though the game helpfully has a built in hint function found in the menu. Remember, these puzzles are designed to be solved. Just keep at it, and you will be rewarded.
The surreal, nightmarish atmosphere is also back. The outdoor sections in particular feel like something out of Silent Hill. There’s a fountain puzzle which reminded me heavily of Resident Evil, and a well shrouded in fog which looks lifted straight from The Ring. Homages, we’ll say.
The tense, nerve wracking timed sections also make a return, but with various twists, like a monster who accelerates towards you only if it senses fast cursor movement. Much of the game is thematically derivative, yet the gameplay mechanics become increasingly original with each installment.
The lore of the shadow people is expanded on here, but not so much as in the third installment, which I’ll review tomorrow. Deeper Sleep has the largest focus on complex puzzle solving of the three, but not at the expense of scares. I would compare it by analogy to the changes Penumbra: Black Plague made to the formula of Overture.
It’s less of an objective improvement. Whether you enjoy Deeper Sleep more than Deep Sleep will depend on what you liked most about it. It expands on some aspects of it and neglects others. Yet if I had to pick a favorite out of the three, it would be Deeper Sleep by a thin margin over the third.
I’m inclined to complain about seemingly obtuse puzzles, but somehow the solution always seems forehead-slappingly self evident after the fact. There’s a lot of directions the developer could’ve gone with a sequel, but what we got is a respectable evolutionary improvement over the first with some really memorable scenes. I give it 9/10. Play it here.
Images courtesy of ScriptWelder.