A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents should know that Monstrum is a horror video game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The game is about being hunted by monsters on a ship, and you must stay alive as long as possible. The game has violence and blood. You can try to fight off monsters with weapons and other items, but the focus is more on running away, hiding, and distracting the enemies. When you're attacked, the edges of the screen turn bloody red. The game also has strong profanity, including words like "f--k" and "s--t."
What's it about?
MONSTRUM is a single-player survival horror game. You find yourself on a derelict cargo ship with mostly tight corridors, small rooms, and staircases, which has seen better days as the ship has rusted over and been abandoned by its crew. You soon find out why: Monstrous creatures are roaming about this dimly lit vessel. It's your job to stay alive, pick up objects and clues to what happened (including notes in journal entries left behind), and find your way off this seemingly sealed tomb. It's played from a first-person perspective, and one of your goals is to find something to illuminate your way, such as a flashlight or glow stick -- which adds to the creepy atmosphere. There's no need to memorize the levels, because Monstrum features procedurally generated levels (and object placement) to keep things fresh and frightening. Along with exploring the ship to pick up items and clues, you must try to outrun and/or outsmart your pursuer with noisy distractions and other tactics, but you'll have to watch out for the traps laid for you, too. The different kinds of AI-driven creatures are something out of an Alien movie, down to the teeth and claws (and in some cases, the deep jaws). Hiding is a good strategy, too, but be prepared to die. A lot. Remember, death's permanent, and you'll awaken in a new ship, perhaps with different items lying around, and with different kind of creatures with unique properties.
Is it any good?
This is a straightforward survival horror game that pulls off a thrilling -- and frightening -- experience. It's not a long game, nor does it offer a lot of items or monsters and such, but Monstrum packs a lot of nervous tension into a single-player adventure that plays differently every time you die and must start again -- until you get it right. Imagine dropping your flashlight over the edge of the ship's deck into the water -- the flashlight you so desperately need. Or being forced to crouch behind an object because you accidentally triggered a loud alarm. It's scary. Plus, it's game over if you die, which adds to the fear factor. You'll find yourself carrying items you don't think are going to help you much at all -- such as a coffee cup -- but they might be used to distract the creatures. Bolt cutters are likely more obvious, as you can break chained off areas to enter, and weapons may help you during a skirmish with a slimy monster that decides to break out of a hallway wall beside you.
You'll cycle through your limited inventory at the top of the screen in order to select and use it. But what helps this game remain engaging and intense is the atmospheric lighting, mostly tight and confined spaces, creepy music, and sound effects. There isn't much to complain about in Monstrum, but don't expect a ton of depth, thoughtful puzzles, or a huge variety of monsters. A multiplayer mode would have been great -- where one person plays the hunter and the other plays the hunted -- but even as a relatively short single-player experience, this game delivers the goods, and some chills, too.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Monstrum affected by the blood and gore shown in the game? Would the violence have the same impact if it didn't include blood and gore?
What makes the scare tactics in Monstrum so effective? Is it the addition of the darkness, the isolation, the creepy sounds and jump scares by ugly and fast-moving creatures? Is it the tension of being caught by something monstrous?
- Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, Oculus Rift, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $12.99 (PC), $29.99 (console)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sodesco
- Release date: May 5, 2020
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Strong Language, Violence
- Last updated: June 16, 2020
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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.