Into the Stars

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Into the Stars Game Poster Image
Lead humanity through space in stat-heavy simulation.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn critical-thinking and decision-making skills as they command their ship and crew. Decisions made in the game have a direct impact on the status of the ship, and the consequences of poor choices are played out almost immediately. Many of the game's hostile confrontations can be completely avoided with strategic choices and analysis of a situation. The game is very text-heavy, not only improving reading skills but also reading comprehension. Into the Stars provides players with a sense of exploration, critical thinking, and even science as they explore the galaxy.

Positive Messages

Reinforces important lessons, including resource management, diplomacy, decision making, along with teaching benefits, consequences of important choices.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players have a responsibility not only to their crew but for safety of last remnants of humanity. While various crew members recruited along the way don't have much direct character development, they exhibit positive traits such as loyalty, determination, strong work ethic.

Ease of Play

Complex game with lots of nuances in action, from manually navigating through space, avoiding obstacles, patrolling enemies to micromanaging systems to handle, protect ship.

Violence

Occasionally, players run into situations requiring combat. Missions generally played out in short narratives based on players' decisions. In space combat, players use ship's weapons against other alien vessels, resulting in on-screen explosions, destruction.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Into the Stars is a downloadable space-simulation game that puts players in command of a spaceship transporting the last remnants of Earth's civilization to the only planet able to support human life. Players must manage and maintain their ship while exploring new areas and learning how to find and utilize resources. There's some ship-to-ship combat, with players defending themselves against alien foes. Combat is methodical and lacking in blood or gore, with defeated foes simply exploding in space. The game has a heavy emphasis on reading, statistics, and critical thinking.

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What's it about?

INTO THE STARS is set in the distant future, where the Earth finds itself under attack by a hostile alien race known as the Skorn. Although humanity survived, the attacks continued, ravaging the planet and putting our civilization on the brink of extinction. As a last-ditch effort to survive, humanity develops a fleet of large spaceships called "Arks" to relocate what's left of civilization to a new home, Titus Nova, the only planet discovered to be habitable by humans. So far, none of the previous 12 Arks has managed to reach this new home. Into the Stars puts you in the captain's seat of Ark 13, the last of the Arks. You'll have to travel through the galaxies, face down hostile aliens, scavenge supplies, and maintain order among the people. Can you succeed where everyone else has failed? The fate of the human race is in your hands.

Is it any good?

For anyone who has ever watched a space adventure, there's always a sense of wonder and excitement as you imagine what it would be like to sit in the captain's chair of a massive spaceship, exploring the stars, fighting off alien threats, and making the hard choices that define what it means to be a leader. Into the Stars gives players the chance to live out that fantasy on an epic scale. Rather than simply clicking on a location and instantly popping up there, you'll take the wheel of the Ark 13, maneuvering through space, dodging hostile patrols, and easing into orbit above new planets to gather resources and carry out special missions. It's a gorgeous, peaceful, and even calming view from the outside, one that belies the frantic chaos usually going on in the ship's bridge.

Commanding the last hope of humanity isn't easy. There are constant alerts, alarms, and the like going off, warning of issues that require your immediate attention. Maybe a critical system on the ship is failing. Or it might be an uprising of the citizen populace on the ship. Or it might be a showdown with Skorn patrols preparing to fire on you. Whatever the issue, you need to prioritize your efforts, assigning some crew members to take care of the onboard issues while sending others out on missions to gather resources, make diplomatic relations, and recover materials and equipment to keep the Ark 13 running in top shape. It's a persistent challenge and a bit of a juggling act to keep track of the ship's needs while still progressing toward Titus Nova, but the game does a phenomenal job of keeping that challenge balanced and never tipping over into frustration. Much as in real life, there are difficult decisions to make in the game, and not every event is going to go your way. But, in the end, if you think through the problems put forward, you'll make progress and, most of the time, be left with a real sense of accomplishment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about critical thinking. What are some tips for making difficult decisions? What are the best ways to examine the benefits and consequences of such decisions?

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