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Moons of Madness

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Moons of Madness Game Poster Image
Survival in a spooky Lovecraft story set on Mars.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The game is about survival under harsh and horrific circumstances. You're not only trying to live long enough to escape, but doing so while keeping your sanity in check.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players are generally isolated throughout the game, interacting with the skeleton staff mainly through radio communications. These few people have different personality types, but none would be considered "role models"

Ease of Play

The game's a first-person adventure, with players clicking to interact with objects. Its focus is on the tension, the fright of what's around the corner, and just how much is in your mind. It moves at a much slower pace, giving players a chance to plan their actions and figure out solutions. 


While there's not really any sort of combat, there's still a lot of graphic and disturbing imagery. There are corpses, humanlike tentacled creatures, ghostly hallucinations, etc., which are gruesome, bloody, and gory, pulled right from the players' nightmares.


The game makes liberal, frequent use of profanity, particularly "s--t" and "f--k."


The game is loosely tied into Funcom's Secret World universe, which has its own game, stories, and such. While there's not a need to have played Secret World or others in the series, having done so does help to better understand some of the mythology of what's happening.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Moons of Madness is a downloadable sci-fi horror adventure game available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows-based PCs. The game's loosely tied into and a part of Funcom's larger supernatural themed Secret World gaming universe. The mechanics are relatively simple and easy to pick up and play, with players exploring the Mars base and attempting to keep it functioning in the midst of strange supernatural occurrences. There's a lot of disturbing imagery, including warped creatures, humanlike monsters, and ghostly visions dripping with blood. Parents should be aware also that the dialogue features frequent use of strong profanity, such as "s--t" and "f--k," usually in relation and reaction to the frightening events happening around the base.

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What's it about?

In MOONS OF MADNESS, horror finds a new home under the red skies of Mars. You are part of a mission sent to our planetary neighbor to establish the Invictus, a secret state-of-the-art research station build to study the source of a mysterious signal originating from the planet. The Invictus is manned by a skeleton crew, and only a select few know the true objective of their mission. Your job, meanwhile, is simply to keep the base running for day to day operations. It's been a lot more difficult lately, though. Quakes have been rattling the base almost since your arrival to the planet, and they've been getting stronger and more frequent. Worse still, you can't remember the last time you've had a good night's rest, with your sleep plagued by horrific scenes of some "thing" haunting the station. But this isn't a dream anymore. You've started to catch glimpses of your nightmares while awake. The Invictus isn't the only thing that's made Mars its home. Something else, something sinister, has been here much much longer. And now it's reaching out, seeking escape from its Martian prison and a new world to conquer. Can you resist its call and keep your sanity in check to drive back this evil? Or will you break under the pressure, losing you mind, your life, and everything you ever cared for in the process?

Is it any good?

What would it feel like to be trapped in a nightmare, unable to wake up, and even worse, what if you couldn't tell if you were ever actually asleep? That's the sort of fear players must face in Moons of Madness. The game's a slow burn, but as things start to fall apart on the station, the tension and suspense ramp up quickly. Before long, you're crawling through dark air ducts unarmed with a tentacled creature breathing down your neck. But is the threat real, or simply a hallucination caused by the stress and hazards of being isolated on a barren planet? That's what makes it such a unique experience. Even after you feel sure about what you're dealing with as it appears in the real world, you can't help but wonder if your mind has already been shattered by the forces lined up against you. Was that monster you saw out of the corner of your eye real, or was it an adrenaline-fueled figment of your terror induced paranoia? Either way, you'd best find a way to snap out of it before it costs the lives of yourself, your co-workers, and everything you hold dear.

Gameplay in Moons of Madness is relatively cut and dry. It's a survival horror by definition because, yes, there's a lot of horror going on and you're definitely trying to survive, but it's lacks the shoot 'em up action games like say, Resident Evil or Dead Space. Instead, you've got to navigate the base with certain key objectives meant to move the story along. It's standard adventure game fare here with fetch quests and puzzle solving, like finding a crowbar to open a door or calibrating water purifiers scattered around a hydroponics lab. There's a lot of back and forth as you navigate the base and the surrounding Martian environment, and the pace can slow down quite a bit at times. But there's always the lingering sense that things are building up to something really bad happening at any moment. And when it does, the payoff tends to deliver in terrifying fashion that sticks with you.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about horror as entertainment. What are some of the ways we like to be scared for entertainment? Which do you find scarier, the slasher style of horror with a constant flow of blood and gore, or the psychological horrors that stay in the shadows and test a person's sanity?

  • As we move closer to establishing a presence on other worlds, what are some of the real risks involved in this exploration? What are the benefits to these missions?

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