Pokémon Sleep preview: as easy as catching Pokémon in your sleep
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Featured Image Credit: The Pokémon Company
Earlier this week The Pokémon Company invited a selection of journalists and Pokémon influencers to Birch Selsdon, a fancy old hotel in the middle of nature (Croydon) for a good night's sleep and to experience the long-awaited, and somewhat mysterious upcoming app, Pokémon Sleep. We were taken on a nice nature walk, foraged some plants, took part in some gong yoga and drank hot chocolate before being patted on the bum in our PJs to go to bed with the app and wake up surrounded by new Poké pals… in the game obviously, they didn’t sneak a load of Pokémon into our rooms in our sleep.
First and foremost Pokémon Sleep is exactly what you’d expect, a gamified sleep tracker; Training up the strength of your Snorlax and filling your Sleep Style Dex being the main goal. Before going to sleep every night, you set your alarm time, then place the plugged-in phone screen-down resting on your bed. The game will then track all the movements and noises you make in the night and combine that with the moment you wake up to analyse the quality and type of your sleep.
You get a detailed breakdown of your sleep alongside a series of audio recordings - which you can expect to be loud snores and bouts of sleep talking. It will also rank the quality of your sleep out of 95 and the type of sleep you had, ranging from Dozing, Snoozing and Slumbering. My sleep scored 87; clearly, all that nature and yoga made me a sleepy boy. All of this data is combined with your Snorlax’s strength to work out the ‘Drowsy Power’ of your Snorlax, using this to draw sleeping Pokémon to snooze around your Snorlax, all sleeping in different poses, from curled-up sleep to hardened sleep and even arms-crossed sleep.
Building up a Snorlax’s strength is done by cooking three meals throughout the day at set times as well as eating berries collected by your helper Pokémon (Pokémon that have gathered around Snorlax during the night and have been fed Poké Biscuits, convincing them to stay). You’ll be shocked to hear aspects of this also seem to factor into the monetisation - as does buying evolution stones for helper Pokémon. At the end of each week, your strong Snorlax will be swapped with a new Snorlax to repeat the cycle all over again, while allowing you to continue building the Sleep Style Dex.
It’s an incredibly cute concept, with an art and animation style that will resonate with Pokémon fans worldwide. Waking up and finding new Pokémon and returning ones in different sleep positions is a great gimmick to keep people playing long into the future - especially as more Pokémon are added to the game. But one thing I realised while speaking to some of the parents at the event is how much this will help parents get their children to sleep.
Getting kids to get to sleep is one of the hardest things a parent has to deal with on a daily basis (at least I assume so, I’m a childless thirty-year-old who is addicted to Pokémon), but making the length of sleep be graded and directly linked to the reward of new Pokémon being added to a Sleep Style Dex is a brilliant way to promote healthy sleep patterns in children (and parents) - it's kind of genius. I am concerned of course, about how aggressive monetisation will be tied into the finished product - and how easily kids may be able to buy items from the store, but that’s something we will have to wait and see when the game releases.
It should also be noted that the phone needs to be resting on your bed to work (unless of course it’s linked to the upcoming Pokémon GO Plus + device) and doesn’t link to any smartwatches that may already be tracking your sleep data, so players should be aware that room will need to be made for their face down, wired charging phone to be safely resting on the mattress - and NOT as a fire hazard under a pillow as we were told several times during the event.
A representative at the event also informed us that sleep data isn’t shared outside of your account, so a guy who works in data processing won’t be sat up at night tormented by the haunting sounds of your loudest snores. It may, although, be shared with any friends you decide to add in the game.
Pokémon Sleep seems to have the potential to be a helpful tool for parents, although the combination of a restless child and having the device resting on the mattress could lead to some smashed phones down the line. We’ll have to wait and see if Pokémon Sleep will have the staying power of the juggernaut, Pokémon GO.
Pokémon Sleep is set to release late July on Android and iOS, with pre-registration open now on the Google Play store.