Pokemon Sleep Knows Exactly What Will Get You Sleeping Better
With a good night's rest, you'll soon be able to collect them all.
Some of my favorite things to do are to sleep and play video games, so when I heard about Select Button's new app Pokemon Sleep, I was immediately intrigued. Like Pokemon Go, Sleep will be free-to-play on mobile devices, but whereas Go was played while walking, your primary means of interaction here is done by sleeping. Rather than battling other Pokemon or trying to be the best trainer, Pokemon Sleep focuses on collecting as many Pokemon as possible by, as the name suggests, getting a healthy amount of sleep. I was able to test out the app for myself for a night, and I thought it was a great way to help those who struggle to sleep get a good night's rest. There's even a narrative reason for why you'll need to be sleeping.
In Pokemon Sleep, you'll be working alongside Professor Neroli, who's studying the habits of Pokemon with a specific interest in a group of Snorlax on a chain of islands. These Snorlax have a mysterious power that puts nearby Pokemon to sleep, so to help further his studies, Professor Neroli creates a device called Sleep Synchronizer, which syncs the affected Pokemon's sleep with yours. After waking up from a night of sleep, you'll be greeted with a few Pokemon that can join your party to help grow the Snorlax to help further understand why these Pokemon are falling asleep. Each week, you'll visit a different island with a new Snorlax that will have their own favorite berries and dishes you can feed them, boosting their ability to put more Pokemon to sleep.
Once you're ready to sleep, you press a button and place your phone next to you in bed with the screen facing down, and it will begin to track your sleep via your breathing. For the app to work, your phone must be on a bed or pillow because if it is placed on a hard surface, it won't work. You're actively encouraged to sleep more because when you wake up, you'll receive a "Sleep Score." The closer you get to a full eight and a half hours of sleep, the more points you'll receive. But if you're someone who likes to take multiple naps throughout the day, you sadly can't use shorter naps to make any progress. Though the game allows players to log up to two sleep sessions a day, the app only tracks those lasting longer than 90 minutes.
After waking up, you'll be greeted with information regarding your latest sleep session and an option to listen to an audio recording of yourself. (Unfortunately, that feature wasn't available in the preview build, so I couldn't listen to myself the next morning.) When you're done looking through all of the information, the app tells you what "sleep type" you fit into for the night. This affects the type of Pokemon around you. For example, while I was playing, my sleep type was a "Dozing Type," which tends to lure Grass and Bug types, so I found a Bulbasaur, Gastly, Mankey, and Metapod. Pokemon are assigned a star rating from 1-5, indicating how desirable they are to catch. And if you found one four-star Pokemon, that doesn't mean all of them will have the same rating. You'll run into a variety of them with different star ratings.
As soon as you wake up, you'll find a variety of Pokemon around that you can collect, and you'll also be able to examine them and unlock a slot for each one in your Sleep Style Dex. Even if you have caught a specific Pokemon previously, you can still catch other variants because each has various sleeping styles. If you find one you like, you can begin filling up their Friendship Points, allowing them to join your party by feeding them biscuits. The more Pokemon you have in your party, the more berries you'll get, and they'll help you grow your Snorlax. Filling up their Friendship Bar can be done by giving them biscuits earned by playing the game and completing tasks, or they can be purchased from the in-game shop using real-world money.
All of that works towards your Daily Cycle, which consists of a series of tasks you'll need to perform that day. They require you to sleep and feed the Snorlax berries or cooked dishes. Doing this will increase its strength, which, combined with your Sleep Score, will decide its Drowsy Power. The higher it is, the more Pokemon you'll see when you wake up. All of this will then lead up to the game's Weekly Cycle, which determines how strong they are, and once the week is over, you'll visit a new island and start from the beginning with a new Snorlax.
The game very much has the Pokemon DNA in it. The background music sounds exactly like something you'd come to expect from the series, and although you're not using Poke Balls to capture them, you are still befriending them to help you achieve your goal. The art style is very cutesy but still stands out and feels different from other games in the series by taking advantage of brighter and softer colors to give the app a more cozy feeling. I was only able to find four Pokemon during the one night I was able to play, but more than 150 were available in total (though, despite that number, they are not all from Gen 1). More Pokemon will be added to Sleep over time.
There is a social aspect to Pokemon Sleep, but it's pretty limited. Like Pokemon Go, you can add friends and see each other's stats. But other than that, there isn't much you can do with other players. There won't be teams that you can align with or a leaderboard so you can track who's the best sleeper in your area. You also won't be able to trade Pokemon with whoever you have on your friend list, and on top of that, the Pokemon you get in the app can't be transferred to other games. Lacking these features does remove some of the possible motivations to play, but it's the inability to trade or transfer Pokemon that feels like the biggest omission.
One major hurdle for Select Button to overcome is convincing people who already use a sleeping app to switch to this one. The major advantage here is that the others do not have a Slowpoke or a Squirtle waiting for you when you wake up, which is an appealing prospect for Pokemon fans. Waking up to discover which Pokemon I caught is something I looked forward to doing; most health apps have daily tasks that can feel like a chore, but those in Sleep do not, based on the time I've spent with it so far.
If you want to try it out for yourself, you won't have to wait much longer: Pokemon Sleep is expected to launch for Apple and Android devices later this summer.