Through the Darkest of Times

App review by
Chris Morris, Common Sense Media
Through the Darkest of Times App Poster Image
Enthralling, slightly flawed strategy game makes you think.

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

Ease of Play

The game's basics are pretty straight forward, but there's no real direction on how to achieve some goals or what you can do with allies or items. Figuring out how to gather necessary supplies for what seem to be important missions can be frustrating. The content can also have some disturbing content related to the Nazis or atrocities comitted, which could be unsettling to some players.

Violence

There's no blood or violence shown on screen, but the game details (via text) the monstrous behavior of Nazis without sugarcoating things. It can make for very uncomfortable reading. 

Sex

A concentration camp escapee discusses being stripped naked. 

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Wine is mentioned at dinners. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Through the Darkest of Times is a strategy game for iOS and Android devices that puts you in the role of the leader of a resistance group in Nazi Germany before and during World War II. The game details the atrocities of the rise of Hitler and paints a very real picture of what it was like to live in German during the war. Players will get a sense of the frustration, fear, and paranoia people in the resistance felt. And characters who aren't careful enough can be killed. The developers do throw in some modern political references that could offend some players and are out of place with the historical theme of the game. Players will learn a lot about the horror of war, so the game isn't well suited for young players who aren't emotionally equipped to learn the details of such things. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

In THROUGH THE DARKEST OF TIMES, you'll play as the leader of a resistance group in Germany during World War II. You'll have to recruit agents, gather supporters and raise funds, while ensuring your operatives (and yourself) aren't captured by the SS or other Nazi groups. At the same time, you'll select missions to undermine the Nazi party, which can range from handing out flyers to commandeering a radio broadcast to sending out evidence of the Holocaust. In assigning members to tasks, you'll have to take note of their anonymity (some are practically invisible to the Nazis, while others feel they're about to be arrested) and their abilities (ranging from compassion to stealth to education). Additionally, each character has traits that can make a mission either easier or harder. The game has two modes -- a story mode, which is more forgiving, and an advanced mode, where you and your team are much more likely to be arrested or murdered by officials, ending the game. In between missions, you'll experience what life was like in Germany and Europe, as you talk with neighbors and friends, some of whom are wooed by the Nazis, and live through bombing raids and the increasing brutality of Hitler and his troops. 

Is it any good?

While it's far from perfect, there's something about this adventure that makes the game impossible to walk away from. Through the Darkest of Times offers a chilling look at life in Nazi Germany and showcases how some people fought back, even as the dangers to them and loved ones increased exponentially. As a player, you desperately want to know how things end for those characters. The game's accurate enough to not let you change history. Hitler's horrific war crimes will happen no matter what you do. And people will still be mesmerized by him despite your actions, but it teaches you that perseverance isn't always easy and you have to fight for what you believe in. From a pure gameplay perspective, it's also fun, requiring you to make smart choices as you weigh risks vs. rewards. If an ally is taken prisoner, do you risk other operatives to get him or her out of jail? Or do you hope they're released by authorities after a few turns? Do you raise cash in an area with a heavy Nazi presence or do you risk not having sufficient funds to accomplish another task? It's the sort of decision making that hooks you hard as a player. 

There are some problems, though. The tutorial system doesn't do a good job of explaining how to do things like make a bomb (required for some missions) or how and when to use allies you've recruited. Too often, you feel like you're on a treadmill, recruiting supporters and cash, but not doing much to further the resistance in a meaningful way. And the developers draw a clumsy line from the events of the German government during World War II to the current U.S. administration via news in-game headlines (i.e. "Hitler says he wants to drain the swamp"). Regardless of your political beliefs, it felt out of place in a game that seems to do its best teaching by reflecting on the past. The good outweighs the bad, though, and you'll find yourself coming back to the game again and again to see how it ends, something that's increasingly rare these days. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about World War II and the events that occurred. Do you think they could happen again? Why do you think they could and wy do you think they couldn't?

  • What does it mean to risk everything for what you believe is right? Do you think there's something you'd risk everything for?

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, Android
  • Price: $6.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Release date: May 12, 2020
  • Category: Strategy Games
  • Topics: History
  • Size: 749.00 MB
  • Publisher: HandyGames
  • Version: 1.0.8
  • Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 13.0 or later; Requires Android 6.0 and up
  • Last updated: May 16, 2020

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