A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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 in to 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.
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 built 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 the 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 your mind, your life, and everything you ever cared for?
Is it any good?
What would it feel like to be trapped in a nightmare, unable to wake up? 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 is 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 game by definition because, yes, there's a lot of horror going on and you're definitely trying to survive, but it lacks the shoot-'em-up action of 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?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $24.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: FunCom
- Release date: October 22, 2019
- Genre: Survival Horror
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Strong Language, Violence
- Last updated: November 19, 2019
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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.