Sleep Is Death's art style is 8-bit retro. The game ships with a number of sprites and scenes for the players to use, but content can be created to customize a scenario.
Players are placed into one of the two roles in the game (one of each):
- Player - Plays in the world built by the director. They play as a 2D sprite, speaking, moving and physically interacting with other sprites. Very simple interface: Point, click, and type.
- Director - Creates a world for another player to interact with. Has a slightly different interface than the other player, allowing for placing of objects and directing the flow of the game.
Not too much is known about how the interface for the director works exactly. There are only screenshots illustrating what it looks like. It's possible to garnish some function from the screenshots at least. The director has a grid of 13x13 to work with. They are able to click and drop objects to the screen and choose what the backdrop of the scene is. They're able to make characters speak and move those objects around.
The game is played in 30 second increments. The player acts something out by moving, speaking, or executing a command. Then the director reacts by creating a result from that command or has the sprites respond to the player. Vice versa is also true where the director forces the player to make decisions based on the situation.
Ultimately the director is responsible for a scenario, where they have in mind a certain direction the story will go and how it will be accomplished. However, the story can go in many directions since the player can decide they don't feel like following the flow of the story, in which the director will either have to think of their feet, or strong arm the player in to following along.