A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Genesis Alpha One is a strategy action game that's available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. The game is about surviving in space, which includes combat against aggressive alien species using lasers, assault rifles, flamethrowers, and other weapons. Combat often results in blood splatter, dismemberment, and decapitation. "S--t" can be heard in dialogue with some regularity. There's also the possibility for some frustration and confusion during play because the game doesn't come with clear instructions and the interface can be clunky.
What's it about?
GENESIS ALPHA ONE is a futuristic game that folds in several genres, including simulation, strategy and action. You assume the role of a starship commander and pioneer, determined to save humanity by finding worlds that could host our DNA. It seems Earth just isn't habitable any longer due to decades of wars and pollution, so wealthy corporations have created the Genesis program to give humanity a future -- somewhere else. As the head of this massive ship, you'll collect resources from space -- like using a tractor beam to suck in asteroids and extract materials from them -- which are then used to build and expand parts of your giant ship. That includes building the barracks or adding greenhouses, workshops, hangars, and clone labs, as examples. Along with building and managing this space vessel, you'll also clone creatures, explore an expansive (randomly-generated) universe, and face off against aliens determined to snuff you out. In these action sequences, you'll use high-tech firearms to destroy creatures, and in some cases, harvest their remains for anything useful.
Is it any good?
While this game tries to fuse multiple game genres together, it results in mechanics that don't always feel connected, which can ruin the fun that you would have across the stars. Genesis Alpha One is a struggle from the start, with lots of trial and error tied to the interface and tasks. Once the large tutorial is done, the most rewarding feature is the resource management and ship building; once done, you can walk through the various corridors and sections you've made. Of course, you have to make something before you can use it, and choosing your crew ahead of missions is based on the Corporation you select, which determines what you start with.
But you'll soon feel "alone": there's no A.I. to help you; crewmembers seem to wander around (as commander, you somehow can't easily assign tasks), plus they have dumb or repetitive things to say when you talk with them. Also, you need to use a terminal in each room to enlist help instead of a central interface (on, say, a device in your pocket). But what's worse is that from pirates out to steal your goods to alien infestations, surprisingly there isn't a lot of excitement in Genesis Alpha One. Scanning debris to "speed up" analysis is lame and repetitive, and missions feel disjointed with one another. Combat isn't very gratifying either, largely due to short bursts of fighting with limited weapons and control. As a result, gameplay feels tedious, dry, and unfulfilling.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Genesis Alpha One affected by the fact that you're killing hostile aliens? Would the impact be intensified if you were killing aliens?
When it comes to space exploration, would it be better to journey with a scientific focus or a military focus? What would be the pros and cons for each?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Team 17
- Release date: February 2, 2019
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Pirates, Robots, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Language, Violence
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.