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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Kids can learn more about space, science, and problem solving as they play through the story. Patience is also required, since transmissions come intermittently, so kids will have to wait. Each problem requires research into the emails from NASA, a little online research (usually a top hit), careful reading, and logic. Though some decisions seem to be more about chance, most require some thought. Also, reading Mark's explanations for his solutions shows his grit, flexible thinking, and determination, and players will likely feel empathy for him. Though The Martian: Bring Him Home wasn't made for learning, kids will have lots of opportunities to learn as they try to bring Mark home.
Ease of Play
Clear objectives and push notices make playing the game intuitive; players simply tap their response choices.
Violence & Scariness
Moments of peril and some minimally violent or scary themes, but all in text. Main character can die based on user choices.
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Main character uses words such as "s--t" and "f--k" which are partially hyphened in the game, and "bitch."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Martian: Bring Him Home is an all-text, real-time adventure game that ties into the movie and the book. As in a Choose Your Own Adventure game and the Lifeline apps, players read transmissions from Mark and the NASA crew to help him make decisions about what he should do next. There's some swearing -- "bitch," and "s--t" nad "f--k" are hyphenated as shown -- and humor about Mark being a hot commodity when he gets home. He's also frequently in peril, and user's choices can lead to his death.
Is It Any Good?
Though knowing the story from either the book or movie will deepen the experience, this text-based adventure can stand alone as an exciting, real-time game. Unlike other games of its kind, there are two streams of information: transmissions from Mark and emails from the NASA crew. This extra layer adds another dimension to gameplay and makes it even more realistic. One drawback, however, is that it's not always clear when the emails inform a player's choices and when they don't, so some choices end up feeling like a flip of the coin. That may be the intention, but because the stakes are meant to feel high, it would be nice to have a bit more consistency. Kids also might get frustrated with the "real-world" lag time when Mark sleeps or has to do a job, but it really does add to the illusion. More sensitive kids might not enjoy the feeling of responsibility, but most will enjoy the sense of empowerment and control. Consider having kids read the book first or using the app as a bridge to the book for more reluctant readers.
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