Valerian: City of Alpha

App review by
Paul Semel, Common Sense Media
Valerian: City of Alpha App Poster Image
Deep, complicated space-station sim made for genre fans.

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

Ease of Play

Simple touch controls, but play is really complicated.


Female human shown wearing a small, revealing top.


Real money can be used to buy in-game currency, which is used to purchase resources, speed up certain functions. Based on recently released movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Valerian: City of Alpha is a strategy game in which players have to build and manage a space station to accommodate a lot of different aliens. It's also based on the new -- and PG-13 rated -- movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. While there's no cursing or sex, there's one image of a female human who, for unknown reasons, is wearing a tight tank top that doesn't leave much to the imagination. There's also no drinking or drug use. Players can use real money to buy in-game currency, which is then used to speed things up as well as buy necessary recourses. The game may also make players want to see the movie. Read the app's privacy policy in the game's settings menu or on the game's website to find out about the information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

Inspired by the movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, the space-station simulation VALERIAN: CITY OF ALPHA has you helping to build the titular metropolitan area, which (according to the movie) started out as the International Space Station but, over time, grew into the aforementioned artificial world. Which is why you spend a lot of time in this game exploring the galaxy, solving problems, and managing resources.

Is it any good?

Though it both stands on its own and serves as a nice complement to the movie, this city simulation may be too complicated for newcomers to the genre. In Valerian: City of Alpha, you have to help build and manage the titular city, which, in the movie, houses thousands of different alien species. But since this is a prequel, you start off just dealing with a couple. Not only do you have to figure out how to accommodate all the new people coming to the station, but you also have to explore the galaxy to find the necessary resources. Plus, when new aliens arrive, you have to decide if you want to be nice to them, treat them as hostile, or just ignore them and hope they'll go away. The problem is that not everyone gets along, and not everyone is nice, which is why you often have to make tough choices. The thing is, if you've never played this kind of city simulation before, you might find this to be a bit confusing. Sure, it walks you through the beginning, but it does so in a way that seems like it's made more for people familiar with the genre than for newcomers. That said, if you enjoy this kind of micromanagement, you may actually find Valerian: City of Alpha to be a lot more engaging than Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about working with other people. In order for your station to thrive, you have to accommodate different kinds of aliens, who have different needs, but what does this game teach us about compromising and being tolerant of other people?

  • Talk about aliens. Do you think we're alone in the galaxy? If not, do you think aliens would want to come here?

  • Discuss money management. The station will only thrive if you spend your money wisely -- how can you apply this to your real life?

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love simulations

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