From the creator of Rock Band™ and Amplitude™ comes a fresh new approach to the traditional shoot 'em up! All the action is driven by an entrancing soundtrack- no beatmatching required. The Idol System introduces a tactical layer on top of proven shmup gameplay allowing for a range of play styles.
User reviews:
Mostly Positive (59 reviews) - 71% of the 59 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Oct 16, 2014

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“A City Sleeps is a shoot-em-up that can appeal even to people who don't normally love bullet-hell games. It certainly roped me in with Harmonix's fantastic-as-usual audio hooks.”
4/5 – PCWorld

“It makes you feel badass when you can fly around the screen lighting up enemies and consistently swing back in time to catch the healing wave on the bass beat, or pull swarms of homing enemies into an area of effect attack and snuff them out all at once.”
8/10 – Game Informer

Deluxe Edition!

The Deluxe Edition of A City Sleeps is available now for pre-order and contains both the full game, exclusive wallpapers, and the original soundtrack. The soundtrack features an original experimental electro hip hop score by M-Cue (, who also serves as one of the game's level designers.

About This Game

From Harmonix, the creators of Rock Band and Amplitude, comes a fresh new approach to the traditional shoot 'em up! All the action in A City Sleeps is driven by an entrancing experimental hip hop / electronic soundtrack, with no beatmatch required. The game's Idol System also introduces a tactical layer on top of proven shmup gameplay to accommodate a range of play styles.

A City Sleeps follows Poe, the youngest member of The Silk, an ancient clan of dream exorcists that can enter the minds of sleeping hosts to rid their dreams of demons. When the residents of SanLo fall into an endless slumber, only Poe can rescue them from a never-ending nightmare. Equipped with her legendary Koto-sword “Heartstrings”, and flanked by her stable of powerful ghost familiars, she must cleanse their dreams, and uncover the city’s dark secrets.

Driven by an unforgettable original soundtrack that builds through player actions and enemy engagement, A City Sleeps infuses classic twin-stick hardcore shoot ‘em up sensibilities with moment-to-moment tactical choices.


MUSIC / GAMEPLAY SYNCHRONY - Level design and song authoring is done in parallel, ensuring a hand crafted and utterly unique audio-experience. Music drives player projectiles, enemy spawning, movement, and bullet patterns.

THE “IDOL” SYSTEM – Get tactical! Use Poe’s ghost familiars to possess inanimate objects of the dream world; these “Idols” will assist you against an endless enemy horde. The soundtrack builds as you leverage a range of both offensive and defensive abilities including AOE damage bursts, and healing bullets. Experiment with different ghost combinations to compliment your own personal play style.

GIVE UP THE GHOST!! – Reverie, Lucid, Nightmare; multiple difficulties for all skill levels. Need backup? Buff Poe with equip-able relics and unlockable ghosts types for a tactical advantage, or take a stab at the re-mixed “Cursed” variants for an even greater challenge! Compete against friends and the world in the global leaderboads!

System Requirements

Mac OS X
    • OS: Windows 7 / 8
    • Processor: Intel Core2 Duo 3.00GHz
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: ATI Radeon 2400
    • DirectX: Version 9.0
    • Additional Notes: Controller strongly recommended!
    • OS: OSX
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo or Faster
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
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Mostly Positive (59 reviews)
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52 reviews match the filters above ( Mostly Positive)
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
0.5 hrs on record
Posted: August 30
I'm experiencing a bug that makes this game very difficult to play - the controls keep cutting out. I tried to get a fix from the devs first, but they're refusing to respond. It's a pretty looking game, and it's fun when it works, but it needs to work for me to recommend it.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
30 of 34 people (88%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
2.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 19, 2014
What do we have here?
A City Sleeps is a horizontal shmup in which the spawning of enemies and your own rate of fire is determined by the rythm of the games music. Another nice feature is the ability to put one of five ghosts on available points on the screen to create shooting turrets or healing points that aid you in your battle.

What is good:
1. The soundtrack... its awesome and very well done.
2. The difficulty. The game is hard and unforgiving like a good shoot em up should be.
3. The ghost mechanic gives the game additional replayability as you probably will want to try a different approach on a level you've already beaten.
4. Varied bullet patterns. If you've played a few bullet hell shmups you'll be surprised to see a few quite well done and interesting patterns here.

The bad:
1. Controls feel clunky. You either feel like youre not fast enough to dodge the onslaught of bullets or you use your dashmove and overshoot. This of course gets better with practice but right of the start controlling Poe (the main character) never felt quite right to me. To me it felt like the dash move was originally intended to make you invincible for a few frames but then they cut that feature out at the last minute.

2. Gameplay. Despite having scrolling backrounds this is basically a twinstick onescreen arena shooter like geometry wars. Enemies spawn on screen and you try to kill them as fast as possible. Most foes take a ridiculous amount of damage though and often times fighting those bigger enemies feels slow and repetitive. At the end it all boils down to which ghosts to use at what point in the level and i didn't find this particulary exciting. Never before have i played a shmup in which destroying enemies felt so unsatisfying. They don't explode or scream or have nice death animations. Killed enemies just vanish without a sound.

3. Graphics. Stylish but Cheap. Everything looks like a cardboard cutout and is barely animated at all. Think of old flash games. Disappointing.

4. Content. Yes there are ghosts and relics(passive boosts) to unlock when beating the levels at certain difficulties but at the end of the day there are only 3 different levels. They change according to the music at higher difficulties but to me everything felt quite samy.

5. The whole rythm affects gameplay thing. A great idea that fascinates at first but eventually shows its downside: It makes the game unpredictable. Pushing the "shoot" button to kill a near enemy but you are not shooting? Yeah, because the music at this very moment does not allow it. This wouldnt be that bad if you could actually predict the music and play accordingly but the whole soundtrack (as good as it is) sounds like some kind of everchanging rave/techno/remix stuff. Try to predict this. :)

As you can probably tell i do not like A City Sleeps. Compared to other shoot em ups its slow and repetitive, looks cheap and has not enough content to warrant its price tag of 14€.

Youll be far better off to buy stuff like Crimzon Clover, Jamestown, Deathsmiles, Akai Katana or any other shooter from cave.
The only redeeming thing about A City Sleeps is its soundtrack. Yeah. buy and download the soundtrack, its awesome.
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28 of 34 people (82%) found this review helpful
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 16, 2014
A really well polished game with an amazing art style and soundtrack that go well into the game mechanics, and despite short length offers for a fair amount of fun.

The bad:
-Relatively short at only 3 very short level.
-Not much to do or collect besides the leaderboard and finishing the game on every difficulty.

The good:
-Amazing art style and soundtrack that go right into the game mechanics. You shoot in the beat of the music.
-Great in short bursts. Short level.
-Unlockable special abilities change up the levels and add highly to replayability.
-Although short, the game is relatively challenging and offers a variety of difficulty levels to unlock.

For every fan of the sadly scarce Shoot 'em up genre that enjoy a vibrant soundtrack that compliments the game well this is a must have. With it's beautiful art and fluid gameplay, it offers high replayability despite the short length. It is a sadly (at launch at least) overlooked game that in the terms of production quality and overall gameplay is at the top of its genre. If you enjoy the art style and are a fan of this genre, as well as are intrigued by the idea of the music pretty much dictating the game flow, this is a game you shouldn't miss. For everyone else, at least at a sale, it is worth a shot and will probably end up being a gem in many people's game library.
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22 of 24 people (92%) found this review helpful
4.6 hrs on record
Posted: September 25, 2015
One of the my favorite things about Harmonix as a studio is how they’ve managed to hang on to their soul and passion for game development even after creating two of the most successful franchises in video game history (and subsequently, the many, many sequels which followed). Guitar Hero and Rock Band were a legitimate phenomenon, so much so that their popularity eventually became their downfall (taking music games as a collective whole with them). Harmonix themselves have yet to close up shop though, and in the post-music game crash they’ve started to experiment and begin to redefine themselves as a studio capable of more than popularizing plastic instruments.

A City Sleeps is the result of their recent efforts, an energetic bullet hell shooter fueled by thumping EDM and blazing neon lights. Entering the dreams of a troubled cyberpunk city, the nightmares of its inhabitants become personified as alien specters, tormenting their hosts and waging a war on anyone who should try to exorcise them.

However intriguing a setup, it was almost immediately forgotten once I actually entered a dream and became entranced by the sensory explosion I was somehow enacting. While it occupies space in the realms of both rhythm games and bullet-hell shooters, A City Sleeps’ biggest strength is as an active visualizer which requires your complete attention if you hope to see it through to the end.

Each shot fired provides a beat, a synth, a note in a constantly remixing track which ebbs and flows as you fight off enemies, each of which in turn provides their own melody. The compositions which emerge from these systems are at once beautifully uniform and unstable; digital consistency grinding against human unpredictability and imperfection to mold a track that is immediately familiar yet never quite identical.

The act of remixing these tracks alone isn’t what captives me though. It’s in the combination of intense arcade shooting, total absorption in the gorgeous and overwhelming visuals, and the constant harmony of so many sounds coming together that something incredible is born. A City Sleeps isn’t a game which compels me to explore it fully, not due to a lack of curiosity at what might be hidden at the end of its most challenging stages, but because I find a comfort and excitement in its most basic missions. The earliest levels showcase A City Sleeps at its most dynamic and controllable, allowing the player to appreciate the genius of the various instruments working to allow such a game to function, without the all-encompassing stress and overstimulation present when the difficulty is raised.

It’s a slight disappointment then that these moments are almost immediately replaced with missions that lean heavily toward static memorization and mechanical competency. I was enthralled by my first trilogy of dreams, but found myself losing patience and interest when the difficulty rose and I needed to utilize a more utilitarian approach to combat. A City Sleep is at its best when it allows the player enough freedom to experiment without given so much as let their attention wander, something sadly only understood in the earliest moments of the game.

A City Sleeps may tend to favor its least interesting and impressive elements, but while it runs short, in its most accessible state it is also its most ingenious. This is not the game I would have expected to see from Harmonix, and their inexperience definitely shows in attempting to repurpose the same progression system that worked so much better in their previous games, but for how limited its scope may be I find myself continually fascinated by what A City Sleep has attempted, and in its finest moments succeeds with beyond question.

You can read more of my writing on Kritiqal.
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33 of 44 people (75%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
2.4 hrs on record
Posted: June 22, 2015
Harmonix' A City Sleeps is nothing like their fantastically jolly breakout titles Frequency and Amplitude, nor does it have anything in common with their later Rock Band series. Instead, it tries to fuse shmup and rhythm game.

Unfortunately, the music / rhythm element adds nothing to the game whatsoever, and despite using preset music, the link between music and gameplay isn't any better than in titles like Beat Hazard, where an algorithm generates gameplay elements for the music of your choice.
At the same time, the controls don't feel snappy enough for a bullet hell shooter. There's a fidgety system of 'ghosts' that doesn't really serve a purpose and can be clumsy to use in the middle of combat.
Visual clarity is lacking, and an option to turn off the visuals of your character besides your hitbox is missing. Sadly there's also nothing impactful about your own or the enemies' shots. For all the effort they put into visual fidelity, the development team forgot to make opponents do anything else than just disappear.

At this price (already reduced from an even higher previous one), this feels like an Early Access game sorely lacking in content. It tries to make up for this by offering particularly difficult levels, but still ultimately has three relatively short stages. So far sale discounts are also anything but steep. Other games based around electronic music like Electronic Super Joy offer much better value for money.

To summarize, this is only really worth your time & money as art.
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30 of 42 people (71%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
5.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 16, 2015
Bought this game out of support for Harmonix to be honest, plus i love Shoot them up and bullet hell games so i figured i won't regret buying it for sure.

well the game itself isn't broken but there are some glaring issues:
+ the soundtrack is great.
+ the art style is good too.
- moving the character is very slow and the dash isn't much of a help.
- only 3 very short levels ( but you can replay them with increased difficulties)
- Rhythm and shooting doesn't work well in this game.
i love Harmonix to the death for the RockBand series but this game isn't worth it i think.

P.S. here is a word from Harmonix "We've been paying close attention to all your feedback on the game and have been considering it closely. As such, we've decided to permanently drop the price of A City Sleeps to $9.99 (Standard Edition) and $12.99 (Deluxe Edition) to be more in line with your expectations as a Steam player"

this seems kinda passive aggressive to me cause they are kinda saying Steam Gamers are cheap, i don't agree with that at all, i will still support Harmonix for their past work and i hope they don't stumble again like this game and Rockband Blitz.
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12 of 14 people (86%) found this review helpful
1.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 17, 2014
Here we have a pretty good rhythm-based sidescrolling shmup, done by the company you probably know for their Rock Band series, as well as Dance Central, Amplitude, Frequency and a few others.

By their pedigree, you know they know what they're doing with music-based games. This is another case where they do things wonderfully, but the only problem is that there are too few music tracks (or levels) to recommend besides on sale.

Sure, they have harder versions of the same levels to mix things up a bit, including the music, but the learning curve is a bit intense, and of the difficulties, the lowest is the only one I can get through consistantly. I know I might just need to 'gitgud', though.

I would like to see some expansion to the game, more levels to play, because I really like the direction it goes. But wait for a sale if you're interested.
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11 of 14 people (79%) found this review helpful
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 29, 2014
+ Pretty and sharp graphics
+ Solid soundtrack
+ Idol system is a cool idea

- Only a couple of levels
- Game relies on replaying levels on harder difficulties
- Is sometimes too difficult or just too chaotic

[Rating: 71/100]
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9 of 11 people (82%) found this review helpful
3.2 hrs on record
Posted: July 19, 2015
This review contains my personal opinion about the game A City Sleeps.
I did enjoy this game, and have played it for several hours.

This game does have built in controller support.
I played this game with the hardware specs on my profile and used a ps3 controller.

This game fits into the side scrolling/arcade shooter genre and you play the game as Silk, a "dream exorcist" curing people of demonic possessions. When the people of SanLo fall into an eternal slumber, only you can save them with your exorcisms. The game is played in levels called “dreams” and each dream has three stages.Death results in a penalty to your final score, and restarting at the most current stange in your dream. The easiest way to think of stages is as if they were checkpoints. There are a number of ghosts that you can summon to help you in your tasks, you start with two, and are able to unlock more as the game progresses.

What I liked:
*The ability to equip as many as three ghosts at a time means that you’ll be able to play the game in a manner which fits your personal style.
+Intuitive Controls
*I would recommend playing this game with a controller. The buttons are simply and intuitively mapped, as well as easy to remember.
*The soundtrack was very pleasing to listen to. Most of the tracks are very well composed and easy to listen to. I would consider buying the soundtrack separately to listen to while writing, or doing other tasks.
+Engaging gameplay
*The harder difficulties have some very unique curses that make the level more challenging, and require you to have a different mental approach.

What I didn't like:
-Animation Quality
*The attack animations are somewhat choppy at melee range.
* Even at the lowest difficulty some of the levels can seem frustrating, or overwhelming.
*The points you score take a hit if you have Mercy (the healing ghost) activated. I just dislike this, obviously you’ll need to summon mercy at some point (unless you’re an elitest) and I don't think your points should be penalized for that.
-Boss Fights
*The boss fights, while not extremely challenging in the traditional sense, can be an overwhelming amount of stimuli at once (the whole screen is full of seemingly undodgeable attacks), and if you fail, you begin at the beginning of stage 3. Once you interpret and anticipate the attack patterns the fight isn’t too hard, but it’s more than a little frustrating having to re-do stage three. I think it would have been much more enjoyable if the failed boss fight started back over at the beginning.

Other notes:
>The enemies in the game are very diverse, while you can tell what enemies are based on a similar model, their appearance, sound, and attacks are unique.
>The story is present, but not well explained, and much of the terminology isn’t defined either.
>The dreams all have the same 3 stage format with the boss at the end, which can be a bit repetitive.
>After several hours of gameplay I did not notice any glitches, bugs, or lag. Everything appears to be working as designed.
>I received this game as part of a humble bundle, I did not pay full price for it.

Final Score 7/10

Despite being a little on the frustrating side, the game is a lot of fun to play, and the art backgrounds combined with the soundtrack make this game so much better. I’m not generally a fan of this type of game, but I will continue to play it when I am taking a break from my other games. If you’re a fan of the genre, I think this would be a unique game to add to your collection. if you are easily frustrated, however, you may want to rethink this game.

Would I recommend this game?
Yep, absolutely.
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16 of 25 people (64%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 16, 2014
The end boss is probably the closest you'll get to being encouraged to stab the essence of dub step with a sword.
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Recently Posted
0.7 hrs
Posted: August 7
I got this game in a humble bundle so didn't pay full price.

A side-scrolling shooter is the easiest way to sum up this game but it has a couple of unique twists. You have multiple power-ups but only one can be used at a time so in order to succeed in what i thought were some rather difficult levels you do have to be rather attuned to what's going on. Another feature that keeps this game in a state of uniquity is its soundtrack. The music ties in perfectly with the gameplay to produce an nice arty mix. All the art is very well done in-game and everything runs smoothly. Not much to say that goes against me recommending this game.
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0.1 hrs
Posted: July 27
Looks good on paper

sounds good in the trailer

doesn't work on any of my three computers.

C'est la vie?
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Caraise Link
0.8 hrs
Posted: July 17
As much as I like bullet hells, this one kinda falls flat. The high-contrast art style actually makes it substantially harder to differentiate anything at a glance, requiring you to look more closely at any given part of the screen to tell what's going on. Obviously, in a game where you have to at least roughly know where all the bullets and enemies are to make any informed decision about where to dodge, this is kind of hindrance. Plus, while the player character's hit box is fortunately visible, her large sprite makes it unintuitive and the health/energy UI sitting right underneath make it hard to tell at a glance where her hit box is, making dodging even more of a hassle than it needs to be.

I also don't honestly think the rhythm mechanics work very well. The fact that your basic shots fire in time with the music seems like it ought to be cool, but it ends up making your primary weapon hugely unreliable. There are times where your damage output can drop significantly within the course of a second, or suddenly change from a straight shot to a spread, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it.

Also the ghosts are kind of a joke. I didn't get far enough to get more than one extra ghost and relic each, but unless the first two offense-oriented ghosts are just incredibly underpowered, the healing ghost is by far the best. Its only real downside is penalizing your score a bit, which doesn't affect progression at all. If you're just trying to win, healing is always the best choice, so why even have the other ghosts?
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Kung Fury
16.1 hrs
Posted: April 13
I like this game. Although its a little short.
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1.4 hrs
Posted: March 15
While at first this game might appeal to your senses, that will fade quickly along with your interest. There isn’t really anything here. Very few variations in enemies, level design, weapons, and even the score lacks in the creativity department. It all becomes very dull, very quickly.

I’ve played free mobile games that have more content than this.

If you really feel inclined to check it out, play it for one hour...and decide if you want to return it or not. At that point, you will have had the opportunity to experience most of what this game has to offer. Which, sadly to say…isn't much.
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1.1 hrs
Posted: January 10
A middling bullet-hell shooter with dual-stick mechanics whose soundtrack far exceeds the game itself. I found myself wanting to just listen to the music more than actually play.

Several points make the game somewhat frustrating:

* Your attack rate is not consistent. It is tied to the beat of the music. While usually at a good clip, there are some spots where it slows down.
* Not shooting isn't really an option. When you stop tilting the stick, a significant chunk of the music goes mute, which diminishes my enjoyment of the game.
* Tied in with that, dual-stick shooting gets really old really fast when you can't let up.
* No bombs. You have to earn your bomb by closing to melee range at hitting enemies, which turns your ranged attack into a melee one.
* Doesn't feel good. I don't really feel in-control of movement, as the game feels too sluggish to warrant the "only your core takes damage" dodges that a bullet-hell shmup demand, and using the dash is an exercise in "point in a general direction and hope you didn't point the stick one or two degrees off". I recognize that the game is themed around dreaming, and sometimes when you dream you get a floating feeling where you fly around, but you can't have that in a bullet hell. It's gotta be precise.

If you can get the soundtrack alone, it's great. But I think the music is wasted on this game.
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0.3 hrs
Posted: January 5
Tho the game features an potentially fun gameplay, Harmonix forgets what make music games great & didn't know what makes SHMUPs tick..

The flow..

The game insist on the use of adaptive soundtrack that would be better with the "adaptive" elements..
The parts of music stops when you stop shooting, or when u killed the enemies too fast, etc..
The so called "tactical layer" idol system is not fun to play/manage, plus it breaks the flow of music..
The level designs were horrible, the enemies encounters were uneventful, & the bosses which should be the core of SHMUPs are soulless..

TL;DR: While it's an interesting notion, Harmonix failed to sync the gameplay with music like it promised..
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6.6 hrs
Posted: January 2
If you're a fan of bullet hell shoot'em ups then A City Sleeps will satisfy that craving for several hours. In total it took me about 7 hours to finish the game, which wasn't difficult but takes some getting used to. I would recommend playing on a controller it may end up being easier to control, I played through the game using only keyboard and it didn't feel terrible but for anyone not used to playing a SHMUP using a keyboard, they should get a controller.

The only drawback to the game is there are only 3 stages, each one will unlock an increased difficulty once the stage is beaten. Due to this it does feel a bit repetitive. The thing that changes this up is that the ghosts (powerups) that unlock after beating certain stages does change the way you would play a level and that keeps things fresh for a little while.

This is made by Harmonix so the soundtrack is very good and since the music flows with the bullets and powerups when everything works it really feels like you can predict where you should be to avoid bullets. For anyone that really enjoys the SHMUPS from Treasure or Ikaruga, this may be too easy of a game but is still worth a playthrough.
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12.1 hrs
Posted: December 31, 2015
Low bullet visibility, unintuitive controls, a very eccentric combat system, walls of story text, and a cheap graphic budget add up to a product that just doesn't work well.
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