A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Divide by Sheep is a downloadable math puzzle game that's fun and amusing but based on dark humor. The graphics are cute and cartoony and the music upbeat, but there's a bit of an "ew" factor as sheep get cut in half and leave pools of blood. The cartoony graphics lessen the disgust, but unfortunately, some puzzles can't be solved without some sheep dying. Otherwise, there's no objectionable content. Though controls are easy to grasp and learn, the difficulty ramp up quickly.
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- Kids say
What's it about?
DIVIDE BY SHEEP has a cute but dark premise. The little grim reaper wants to make some sheep friends, but since he can only befriend the dead, he unleashes a flood upon the world to drag the sheep under. Now, sheep are stranded on small islands and need your help to get to safety. This math puzzle game has you adding, subtracting, and dividing sheep by any means available, whether it's by putting them together, dumping some, feeding some to wolves, or cutting them in half. Each puzzler has three parts and asks for a specific number of sheep. You move them from island to adjacent island and onto the life raft. Each part ends when you have the right number of (or too many) sheep on the raft. As the game ramps up, obstacles get thrown in the way, and you'll be asked for sheep, wolves, and even the ghosts of sheep!
Is it any good?
Divide by Sheep starts off with three simple puzzles on each level but slowly ramps up in difficulty. New features and obstacles include multi-directional bouncy pads that divide sheep, island platforms that explode if emptied, and wolves that occupy a square after eating a sheep. Eventually, players will have to start thinking ahead a couple moves to solve one puzzle and have enough sheep left over for the next. This can make it very easy to get stuck on a stage, but fortunately, Divide By Sheep allows you to move on so long as you complete one of the three puzzles on any level.
There isn’t a tutorial, but visual aids show players what can be done, and stages can be reset without any penalties. Plus, each time a new feature is introduced, the game scales back the difficulty so players can learn what the feature does. Eventually, the random mix of features adds to the complexity and difficulty. The only negative might be the "ew" factor of sending sheep through lasers that cut them in half, which might feel unnecessary to the gameplay. Some players may love the dark humor, but it also may feel like it comes out of the blue and isn't needed. But, if you can overlook this, you should find a very entertaining puzzle game.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the depiction of violence in games. Does the cartoonish representation of Divide by Sheep make it feel less violent? Do you think the designers could have divided the sheep differently?
Talk about what "dark humor" is. How can something that's "dark" still be humorous? Do you find dark humor funny?
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