The Golden Compass

Common Sense Media says

Game falls short of both the film and the book.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Lyra acts out of a desire to help her uncle, her daemon Pantalaimon, and her friends. But she has a willful nature and is often disobedient. Conversations frequently involve Lyra deceiving another character in order to get her way.


As Iorek the bear, players kill many wolves and human hunters. There's no blood, but Iorek growls and bares his teeth. In one cutscene, Iorek bites a wolf through the middle and tosses it aside. Iorek tells Lyra that "armored bears enjoy fighting as you do breathing."

Not applicable

Lyra is taught to "swear" by a Gyptian sailor in order to fit in and uses curses like "squid-head."


The game is a tie-in to The Golden Compass film.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Lyra, the main character, frequently deceives people -- often by lying -- to get what she wants. For example, she tricks a servant into letting her into her uncle's quarters, and tells her uncle that she's been behaving -- when she'd been throwing plum pits at a teacher. Iorek the armored bear kills lots of wolves and human hunters. There's no blood, but he growls and bares his teeth, and in one cut scene, he's shown biting a wolf through the middle and tossing it around.

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Kids say

What's it about?

The story takes place in a world in which humans have special "daemon" companions who appear in animal form. A 12-year-old girl named Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon, embark on a journey to save Lyra's friend after he's kidnapped by shadowy figures known as the Gobblers. Lyra's journey takes her to several wondrous locations, including a winter wasteland inhabited by talking, armored polar bears. She also finds herself in danger, since she seems to be the only one who can control the mysterious Golden Compass.

As Lyra, players can run and jump to explore their surroundings, using Pantalaimon's different forms to access new areas. With the Golden Compass, Lyra can answer questions by deciphering a riddle that involves matching keywords with symbols around the compass. Players can also take on the role of Iorek the armored bear, who is primarily used for fighting off wolves.

Is it any good?


While there are some good ideas here, The Golden Compass suffers from extremely subpar production values, clunky controls, and repetitive gameplay. Lyra's conversations with other characters can take forever since players have to win a short Mini game before she can speak.

Gameplay is intercut with live-action scenes from the movie, which is a nice touch. But these scenes also serve to make the transition back to the game's primitive graphics that much more jarring. Die-hard fans of the movie might be able to appreciate this game on some level, but overall it has the aura of a rushed and mediocre movie tie-in.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how lying is portrayed. When Lyra lies, was it her only choice, or could she have found other ways to get characters to help her? Did you play this game because you liked the movie or book (or both)? Do you think the game did a good job creating an interactive world based on the movie?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PSP, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Windows, PlayStation 2
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Sega of America
Release date:December 4, 2007
Topics:Magic and fantasy
ESRB rating:E10+ for Mild Language, Violence (Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PSP, Windows, Xbox 360)

This review of The Golden Compass was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old Written byemiguin April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Ugh........ not another bad game

The Golden Compass Game could be summarized in two words:

Very Bad

The Books were amazing and the film.... erm ...... it was okay... ..... .... ..., but the videogame was a waste of money!

Kid, 11 years old Written bymoviebash April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

I lost six brain cells playing this!

This is the Worst game ever!

Teen, 14 years old Written byThe Bronze Boudlers April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


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