A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Players are encouraged to work together with others as they take on difficult new missions in the game's story mode, making teamwork a persistent theme. However, the game also sensationalizes sci-fi violence, entertaining players with long stretches of frenetic, bloody combat.
Positive Role Models
Our nonhuman heroes are mute and without personality. They serve only to fight by the player's command. Without the game's female narrator, who explains that our goal is to rid the galaxy of the evil darkspore infestation, it would be difficult to distinguish whether we were fighting for good or evil.
Ease of Play
The game begins very simply, with players needing only to click on the enemies they wish to attack. However, as their roster of customizable heroes grows, players will need to spend considerable time tinkering with accessories and equipment and learning which hero types fare best against certain enemies in order to create strong squads capable of dealing with increasingly tough alien foes.
Violence & Scariness
Players pit customizable creatures in battle against evil "darkspore" monsters. Action is viewed from a raised perspective, making the combatants almost seem like miniatures. However, the violence can be brutal. There isn't any gore or dismemberment, and all of the violence is between nonhuman beasts, but creatures slash, bite, and shoot each other, spraying blood through the air to create glistening puddles of crimson within the environment.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Darkspore is a violent action RPG that encourages players to connect with others online. Its light story about fighting off an alien menace takes a backseat to sensationalized sci-fi violence, which, though not gory, is often exceptionally bloody. Teamwork with human allies -- either friends or strangers -- is all but necessary to succeed, especially in the game's extremely difficult later missions. Voice chat in online play is not supported, but players do engage in open text chat communication. For this online play, an optional profanity blocker can be switched on or off.
Is It Any Good?
Darkspore looks nice and its combat should prove instantly accessible to anyone who has played an action RPG. What's more, it delivers satisfying rewards in the form of 100 unlockable heroes and countless pieces of ability-altering equipment. Indeed, many players will spend almost as much time in the hero editor as they do on the battlefield, striving to create the most powerful squad possible to take on what often turns out to be extremely challenging missions.
Indeed, the difficulty may end up turning off some players, especially if they aren't adventuring with experienced players. It's unfortunate that the game isn't more conducive to people interested in a solo experience. It could also do with a meatier story. None of our heroes talk -- the game's only voice comes from a cold, computer-like narrator -- and the story feels a little soulless as a result. There's no human element for players to latch onto. Still, if you enjoy a good challenge, fancy multiplayer gaming, and appreciate a well-designed and rewarding action RPG battle system, there's a lot here to like.
Online interaction: Players are strongly encouraged to team up with others -- including strangers -- to play cooperative and competitive games online. Players are automatically logged into a server at the game's outset and can see other players freely communicating with one another in a dialogue box at the bottom of the screen. An optional profanity filter is capable of blocking most curses, but doesn't stop players from discussing inappropriate subjects or sharing personal information.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.