A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Players enter the story with no real backstory, and the plot tends to stay relatively vague. Left to their own devices, players can choose to hack and slash their way through everything or avoid nearly all conflicts.
Positive Role Models
As the "Bringer of Dawn," players are a blank slate without personality traits to relate to. Meanwhile, the villagers, cultists, and other characters you run into are never quite what they seem.
Ease of Play
The game tries to blend together combat and movement together, but it winds up feeling overly convoluted and clumsy. Switching between forms offers up different options, but none of them ever feel natural or fluid. Add to this the fact that the game essentially leaves players to their own devices, and it becomes a mess of trial and error, backtracking, and general frustration.
Violence & Scariness
Players can avoid most combat if they choose or go into the game attacking almost anything. Most defeated enemies simply explode in a flash. There's some minor blood shown onscreen, but the game's heavily pixelated art style minimizes most of the impact.
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There's occasionally some minor language in the dialogue, as well as in the name of some creatures, such as the "Badass Mole."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mable & The Wood is an action/adventure game available for download on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, as well as Windows, MacOS, and Linux-based computers. Players take on the role of a shapeshifting entity summoned to fulfill a vague prophecy. The game requires a lot of back and forth exploration, with new abilities opening up access to previously inaccessible areas. Combat and movement are intertwined, which can add for the game's already confusing controls. Players can technically avoid nearly all combat in the game, choosing instead to dodge or avoid most threats. There's occasionally some minor representation of blood onscreen when characters, including the player, are injured. But the game's heavily pixelated, retro art style reduces this to little more than a few tiny red squares.
Is It Any Good?
While some games take a classic presentation and combine it with innovative gameplay to create a fun mix of old and new, this game tries to reach that same potential but falls well short. The biggest problem with Mable & The Wood is that the whole thing feels like a tapestry of half-finished ideas scrambled into some mess of a presentation that's then tossed out into the world to fend for itself. The result is a game that's confusing, frustrating, and generally lacking in any sort of fun. Right from the game's opening, with the player summoned as part of some overly vague prophecy, it's hard to tell if the story is supposed to be taken seriously or is being played for laughs. One minute the dialogue is trying to riff one-liners and comedic moment, like the "official sign painter" pointing out the quality of his work. The next minute, though, you're supposed to focus on the plight of the villagers being terrorized by the creatures of the forest.
Moving past the story, the gameplay and controls are just awkward and cumbersome. In your human form, you barely move above a walking pace, weighed down by the sword you're dragging on the ground. Combat requires first dropping your sword and positioning enemies between it and you, before calling the sword back to your hand and hopefully taking out anything in its path. Your movement's also tied to different forms, such as flight as a fairy, digging as a mole, or swinging from a web as a spider. None of these feel particularly intuitive though, and quickly become more of an obstacle than any enemy you might find. Worse still, you're left to discover most of this on your own, as the game rarely gives players much in the way of direction or guidance. Mable & The Wood's lack of polish goes far past being just rough around the edges, and frankly leaves little motivation to play.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.