A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What 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.
What's it about?
Players take on the role of a special NASA agent in THE MARTIAN: BRING HIM HOME. The player is the only person in contact with the lead character, and it’s your job to guide him to safety by helping him complete missions. You don’t need to have seen the movie or read the book to enjoy the game, though it makes it a richer experience. In addition to transmissions from Mark, you receive emails from other NASA personnel who give information about the next part of the adventure; what they say is often vital to the choices a user has to make. Players are also responsible for Mark’s health, and if you're playing on an Apple Watch, you can track Mark’s vital signs in real time.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Subjects: Language & Reading: following directions, reading, reading comprehension, vocabulary
Science: astronomy, geology, physics
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, applying information, deduction, logic, solving puzzles, strategy, thinking critically
Emotional Development: empathy, perspective taking
- Price: $2.99
- Pricing structure: Paid (Pay once, no in-app purchases)
- Release date: October 1, 2015
- Category: Adventure Games
- Topics: Adventures, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- Size: 53.90 MB
- Publisher: Little Labs, Inc.
- Version: 1.0.1
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 8.0 or later; Android 4.0.3 and up
- Last updated: February 12, 2020
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