What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a creative platform game with a morbid sense of humor. The game is dark in the same vein as Tim Burton's Beetlejuice or Corpse Bride. Creepy compatriots and ghoulish enemies share the screen with playfully macabre music, silly settings and a protagonist that is the awkward, love-struck offspring of the Grim Reaper. There's a lot of fighting; players shoot and use a scythe to slice demons, causing them to explode in a fountain of blood and chunks.
What's it about?
DEATH JR. follows the exploits of the Grim Reaper's son, known to friends as DJ. On a field trip to a museum, DJ helps his school crush, Pandora, open a locked box in the basement. And all hell breaks loose, literally: Demons pour from the opened package, ensnaring his friends in otherworldly tentacles. Players control DJ as he travels through different levels in search of the items that will release his friends.
Employing a flamethrower, shotgun, freeze gun, and other firearms, DJ battles a bevy of beasties. His scythe is also a weapon, but can be used to swing across chasms, momentarily fly, or jump higher than his bony legs could usually carry him. DJ must navigate creative and detailed levels such as Meat World (outfitted with barbeque-themed hazards and gigantic cows), School (with exploding vending machines, a smoky teacher's lounge), and Suburbia (complete with white picket fences and exploding sewers).
Is it any good?
Gameplay is varied, combining combat with standard platform game elements such as jumping or swinging across lava pits. DJ's demon battles can get messy, with scores of enemies exploding in a fountain of gore and blood. But the speedy pace and marginal graphics keep players from dwelling on the carnage. The overall tone of the game is lightheartedly macabre -- clearly inspired by director Tim Burton's films -- and veers more into the realm of ooky-spooky than truly horrific.
But ultimately the story and aesthetic lose out to haphazard gameplay. DJ earns a few new attacks as the game progresses, but not enough to keep pace with the difficulty of his opponents, which moves very quickly from too easy to nearly impossible. Pair that with a squirrelly camera and occasionally unresponsive controls and the game loses its charm quickly.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the way some media mix dark themes with a playful spirit. Why is this kind of story appealing? Are gore and violence more acceptable if mixed with a good-humored presentation?