A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Although it's a story of teamwork and survival, there's nothing particularly positive about it. A guy exchanges banter with wounded colleague while looking for parts to fix his ship.
Positive Role Models
Powell, the main character, is a bland, if fairly resourceful guy with the smarts to keep himself alive. Nothing to dislike or like about him.
Ease of Play
Point-and-click movement is as simple as it gets. Puzzles require lots of thought, ingenuity but are intuitive enough to keep players from getting stuck. Even if you do get stuck, developer offers a free walkthrough on its website.
Violence & Scariness
No violence seen, but space-suited corpses frequently seen. Some have blood, some don't; ship's captain is alive but bloody, impaled on a long metal rod.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The player finds a beer during gameplay (used to solve a puzzle). Characters talk of having a beer, but drinking one is never shown.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Morningstar: Descent to Dead Rock is a downloadable adventure game set in space. The title shows images of the aftermath of battle and a violent spaceship crash. Although there are some startling images, such as a bloody, wounded man and about 10 bloody corpses, the game is fairly low-intensity, focusing on point-and-click exploration and puzzle solving rather than conflict. The game is designed to be challenging without being overly hard, and players who get stuck will have the option to use a full walkthrough posted on the developer's website. There's a reference to drinking a beer, but it's never shown; instead, a beer is used as a solution to a puzzle.
Is It Any Good?
Morningstar: Descent to Dead Rock is a slick remake of a more primitive Flash game that benefits hugely from the current 3-D upgrade. The game is played from a first-person point of view, and, although most animations are exceedingly simple, the game's environments are well-composed, textured, and lit. The music also is pretty good, with about 30 minutes of brand-new sound effects and music that improves the gameplay. This is a solid adventure game, and it offers a familiar story concept, pulling you through with intuitive puzzles, good writing, and a polished interface. It's not easy to integrate story and gameplay, and even harder to create puzzles with the right level of challenge, but events progress smoothly, and the story never gets hung up on pointless contrivances. Everything you do is logical, and though there's the occasional inventory game of "click everything on everything else," thoughtful players will know what to do and how to do it.
Descent to Dead Rock also excels in its writing. The dialogue between Powell and Novak is natural and believable (barring the occasional sitcom-like exchange), and Powell's internal monologue has the dual advantage of being intelligent and informative. Unfortunately, there are some big problems in the game. For one, there's a lack of urgency with these characters. For being involved in a dramatic fight to survive, Powell and Novak are weirdly calm. There's never any sense of urgency, and they exchange snarky banter even while Novak is mortally wounded (no spoilers here -- that's part of the introduction). Also, although the additional HD cut scenes and narrative sequences add content, users can still breeze through the game in less than two hours, making its $9.99 price tag a bit questionable. Though subdued overall, Descent to Dead Rock offers an impressive mix of exploration, dialogue, and puzzle-solving mechanics. Its stark graphics and pensive musical score make it leaps and bounds better than its 2009 incarnation, and its beauty, mystery, and sensitive presentation make you wish it were a much longer game.
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.