Dead Star

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Dead Star Game Poster Image
Multiplayer space action held back by repetitive play.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Combat-centric gameplay in five-vs.-five, 10-vs.-10 arena battles. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No true positive role models; by destroying enemies, collecting ore, players level character to access new weapons, upgrades, ships.

Ease of Play

Simple controls; easy to learn; easier on game controller than keyboard.

Violence

Ships are destroyed by machine guns, missiles, explode in a puff of smoke, then regenerate to rejoin battle. 

Sex
Language

Tutorial contains text-driven dialogue. Players called "new meat," with inference that you're dumb, need to have hand held through start of game.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dead Star is a downloadable game of five-vs.-five or 10-vs.-10 space arena battles. This requires online connectivity to participate, and players can invite other players to join teams for the battles. There's no inappropriate content, and players (if destroyed) respawn and can rejoin the battle. Dead Star can be played with the keyboard, but this is really a twin-stick, game-controller, arcade-style battle game made for a controller. Spaceships are upgradeable, and players level by accomplishing tasks such as collecting ore, destroying the enemy, or conquering quadrants in the battlegrounds. This is a fast-paced, reflex-driven, 2-D game that also features cross-play between the PlayStation Network and PC gamers.

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What's it about?

DEAD STAR is a top-down, colorful, 2-D, twin-stick multiplayer space-combat shooter that smacks of old-school arcade titles. Players can customize ships, upgrade defenses, and join with other players to conquer teams of other players on procedurally generated battlefields (which means no two battlefields should look alike). The missions are simple: Collect ore for upgrades, conquer neighboring quadrants, and destroy the enemy team. Because ships will respawn and rejoin the battle, moving quickly and decisively is key, leading to a twitch, or reflexive element.

Is it any good?

Dazzle up an old-school arcade-style shooter with colorful graphics, large randomly generated battlefields and multiplayer action, and you have a game that's fun but can become repetitious. Dead Star has some appeal with its Crew (five-vs.-five) or Fleet (10-vs.-10) multiplayer elements, and the Escape Run escort mission drops more variety into the mix. The game keeps the controls simple (a gamepad is recommended for ease of play) to allow just about anyone to jump into the action quickly. There are strategic elements, such as defense setting, and the tutorial does a fine job of allowing players to gain a feel for commanding drones, setting defenses, and learning the nuances of the game. But make no mistake: Thinking quickly and reacting quickly can mean the difference between winning a skirmish or respawning. 

Where the game stumbles is that, aside from the sheer size of the multiplayer battles and the offerings of customizable ships, this is a very directed experience, giving players the same gameplay over and over. The longevity, though, comes in allowing players to carry three customized ships into any battle arena and swapping among them until the right one is selected for the setting. Battling other players is always challenging. There's a storyline, but it's inconsequential to the game's action. That the game features cross-play between the PlayStation Network and PC gamers is an obvious bonus and can expand the field of play in terms of increasing the pool of players, but at this point, the lobbies are a little sparse. That should change with the game's heavy promotion through the PSN and PC, but right now, Dead Star is one of those games that will mainly appeal to multiplayer fans.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games such as Dead Star. Is the violence OK in this game because it's not as intense as in other games, or is its inclusion a problem? Does the action in this game make the violence have less of an impact than other titles?

  • Talk about how strategy is employed in arena-style combat. What tactics might work best, and how would you fight as part of a team to accomplish the overall goals? Are there methods that you shouldn't employ for success?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $19.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Armature Studio
  • Release date: April 4, 2016
  • Genre: Arcade
  • Topics: Space and Aliens
  • ESRB rating: E for Mild fantasy violence, mild language

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love action

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