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 (51 reviews) - 76% of the 51 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Oct 16, 2014

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Notice: Microsoft Xbox 360® Controller for Windows® (or equivalent) is strongly recommended.

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Recommended By Curators

"You could call it the spiritual sequel to rock band, and only be partially wrong. It may have nothing to do with it, but hey, it's another bullethell."


“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
Helpful customer reviews
30 of 36 people (83%) found this review helpful
2.4 hrs on record
Posted: June 22
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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14 of 14 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.0 hrs on record
Posted: September 25
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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8 of 9 people (89%) found this review helpful
3.2 hrs on record
Posted: July 19
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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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.7 hrs on record
Posted: September 25
I am amazed that such a stylish game can become so uninteresting so quickly.
I would suggest just buying the soundtrack from their website, and pass on this yawn of a SHMUP.

PS. The achievements can glitch. So, good luck with that.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.5 hrs on record
Posted: July 31
Really enjoyed this and I Finished the game. (Played with Xbox 360 Controller)

The game consists of 3 "Levels" but completing them unlocks harder variations of the same levels.

I found the longest point in the game was completing the first level boss due to a steep learning curve, once I got the hang of that, the game felt easier. Unfortunately You have to beat each level to unlock the next so if you find it too hard you will be locked out of most of the games content.

I found it enjoyable enough to keep practicing and improving my skills but I could understand if people believe it is repetitive.
All enemy's attack to the beat of the music but dodging doesn't require moving to the beat, apart from a few situations.

Music was great
Always felt in control - Patterns of bullets are possible to dodge at all times due to a tiny hit point on your character.
The "Assist" Idols are interesting - Help out by shooting enemy's/Healing you etc.

High Difficulty curve at the beginning
More levels would be nice (My Full game completion time is around 5 hours)
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