A Sleepwalker’s Take on Back to Bed
By Marcus Estrada
Back to Bed is one of the few games out there to feature a sleepwalking character. The player’s goal is simple: Get that sleeping fellow to his bed without waking up or “dying.” As someone who actually sleepwalks from time to time, I have to admit to being intrigued by the game because of understanding the experience. Something about Back to Bed just felt so familiar despite being an incredibly surreal puzzle game.
If you have never experienced sleepwalking (or simply don’t know) then it can be hard to explain to others. At least in my experience, it is something I have never been personally aware of. You don’t have memories of getting up and walking, cooking, or whatever else might happen. The only reason someone ever tends to learn they are a sleepwalker is when someone else tells them. “Hey, why did you stand in the doorway of my bedroom for like 10 minutes last night?” is the type of question you might hear and have absolutely no answer to. Sleepwalking is incredibly odd for the sleepwalker because they rarely have recollections of it. Of course, those who live with sleepwalkers are treated to some weird scenes as well.
This concept is executed perfectly in Back to Bed. Bob, the sleepwalker, has no consciousness. He is simply slumbering along while walking in straight lines – often toward the edges of platforms. After all, what does he know of what he’s doing? That’s why his guide, Subob, must block dangerous paths to guide him back to the safety of a bed. Danger is inherent in any sleepwalker’s life, just as it is for Bob. Although death is certainly not common, you can’t help but wonder if you might ever wake up and hit your head on a sharp cabinet edge or something else. Of course, Back to Bed still retains its game-like elements by allowing Bob to be respawned after plummeting to his doom.
There’s another aspect of sleepwalking that Back to Bed presents without ever really acknowledging it. This is the saying that you should never, ever wake a sleepwalker. Rumors like to suggest that waking someone while sleepwalking might send them into shock, or cause even worse damage. In the game waking Bob up is a sure sign of failure. He generally only wakes when being run into by an alarm clock or dog monster. Bob’s waking from dog attack perpetrates rumors perfectly by making Bob appear to die of a heart attack then and there. As it turns out, waking a sleepwalker isn’t nearly as dramatic as that, but you still probably shouldn’t. After all, they may fall down, lash out at you initially, or generally be super groggy and confused.
The biggest unresolved question about Back to Bed is why is Bob sleepwalking anyway? He has narcolepsy, but sleeping a lot doesn’t inherently bring about sleepwalking. Although none of us can control it, many sleepwalkers admit to seemingly being “triggered” into an episode when under stress. For me, being informed of my sleepwalking has often tied to stressors involving school and social situations. So what has gotten Bob so worked up? Because of the tremendous attention paid to the scenery (explicitly inspired by Salvador Dali, M.C. Escher, and Rene Magritte) it seems the developers ignored fleshing out Bob himself. I would have loved to know what sent him into frequent sleepwalking escapades.
Even though I may not have loved Back to Bed, I appreciate its existence. I don’t know if any sleepwalkers were on the development team but they managed to capture the many complex, confused feelings I have in regards to this unconscious act. It is incredibly strange, befitting the art style, as well as frightening. Thankfully, many of us have guides of our own in thanks to family members and roommates. Here’s hoping that whatever game Bedtime Games makes next will connect with players like Back to Bed did with me.
If you’d like to try Back To Bed for yourself you could always enter our contest to try and win a copy for yourself!
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/marcus.jpg”]Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. One day when he became fed up with the way sites would ignore niche titles he decided to start his own site by the name of Pixel Pacas. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come. Some of Marcus’s favorite games include Silent Hill 2, Killer7, and The Sims. [/author]