The Settlers HD

App review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
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In-depth colonization sim offers deep, engrossing play.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

For the first three scenarios, you'll be guided step-by-step and the game will appear quite easy. After that point, though, you're on your own with a whole lot of things to remember, and that's when the game gets really challenging.

Violence

War is a big part of the game, and people will die in battles, but the combat is depicted in a rather non-graphic way -- tiny figures mill about hitting each other with swords until all of one side's soldiers have disappeared. Hunters also kill animals for food, usually with arrows, but this too is not bloody.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

You can create a vineyard and have your settlers make wine, but the wine is only used as a sacrifice to the gods.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Settlers HD lets players build colonies from the ground up, starting with nothing more than a few people and (hopefully) ending up with a thriving nation. There is a ton of information to take in and a whole lot of different elements to manage -- training geologists to find metal ores, sending hunters out for food, having foresters plant new trees, raising grain to feed farm animals, and about a zillion other things. It's a very complicated game that can be very time-consuming, so parents might want to address screen time limits. Be aware that war between different ethnic groups is a big part of the game as well, though it's not bloody or graphic. You will play as Romans, Vikings, or Mayans, and you will need to fend off attacks from the other powers that want to establish their own colonies on your turf (or attack them first).

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Is it any good?

When playing, THE SETTLERS HD, you can get so mesmerized by watching the little world on your screen that you forget you need to make things happen. That tiny world is so alive -- if you set up a hunter in your colony, you'll see the little guy wander into the woods, find one of the deer that has been roaming around, shoot it with an arrow and carry it back home -- and it feels as if no detail has been overlooked. When woodsmen cut down trees for lumber, the trees stay gone -- until you have a forester re-seed the area. All this depth and detail also makes the game very challenging, though. And some of the scenarios presented are real puzzlers. Be prepared to play through some of them multiple times until you work out the best strategies. The Settlers can eat away hours of your life, but will feel fulfilling in the process.

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