A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The setting and story both promote ocean conservation. They suggest humanity will eventually go extinct if it continues to live unsustainably, and that the world's remaining sea animals will be forced to continue to deal with human pollutants. A pair of conservation organizations -- SeaLegacy and The Ocean Foundation -- provide information on their causes.
Positive Role Models
The dolphins players control work to help their fellow sea creatures by untangling them from plastic debris, cleaning them of waste materials, and eliminating lingering human-made threats.
Ease of Play
Movement and exploration is simple and intuitive, and none of the challenges -- avoiding pulses from human-made towers and dangerous sea life -- are very difficult.
Products & Purchases
The narrative clearly speaks out against the kind of waste -- bottles, plastics, glass, metals -- that's generated by rampant consumerism.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Jupiter & Mars is a downloadable underwater exploration virtual reality game for the PlayStation and PlayStation VR. The game is set in a future in which humanity has depleted the world of key resources, completely polluted the planet, and caused intolerable climate change. Players take on the role of a dolphin swimming around the sea floor helping various animals still dealing with the garbage and debris that humans poured into the ocean before they disappeared while deactivating remaining machinery interfering with aquatic life. There's no violence beyond dolphins ramming rocks to break them apart and occasionally getting stung by jellyfish. Strong themes of ocean conservation permeate both play and the story, and the activist organizations SeaLegacy and The Ocean Foundation both provide live action videos explaining their missions and why they believe it's important for people to change their ways before it's too late. Parents should also be aware that virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids under 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.
Is It Any Good?
Few games are as laid back and stress free as this ecologically focused one. Jupiter & Mars' titular dolphins don't have much to worry about as they explore their ocean. They may run into the occasional stinging sea anemone or jellyfish, but contact simply pushes them back a few yards so they can try moving past them again. Outside of these incidents, they spend the bulk of their time enjoying the ocean, a vivid and stylized blue world with Tron-like light accents and a lush underwater soundscape consisting of upbeat music, bubbling and sonar effects, and the melodic sounds of sea creatures. And if any of these animals are found to be in distress, they can typically be quickly and safely helped with a quick blast of Jupiter's sonar ability. The adventure is founded on the admittedly dark notion of humanity's self-caused extinction, but it's clear that the disappearance of people is a boon for sea life.
Interested players should be aware, though, that a game as chill as this one demands an equally chill attitude. Exploration is a slow and sedate activity, and the sameness of your surroundings means you're bound to circle back to familiar areas, perhaps while searching for a frustratingly elusive final collectible in a set. And while a game focused on activities other than violence always makes for a refreshing change of pace, a greater diversity of activities would have been nice. Saving sea creatures, finding treasure, and gradually earning the ability to swim deeper and against stronger currents is fun, but it would have been nice if there was a little more to do. Still, Jupiter & Mars is generally a pleasure, has a great message, and provides a safe virtual reality experience for families looking for a PSVR game with minimal violence.
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