Parents' Guide to

Narcos: Rise of the Cartels

By Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Game based on Netflix show is full of guns, drugs, crime.

Narcos: Rise of the Cartels Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+

Not good at all, for gamers and parents!

For parents, Not it should not be rated 18+, but no one should play it. It’s literally a waste of your time.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (1 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

Everything about this game seems designed to play against the slow and steady pacing for which turn-based strategy games are famous. The most obvious change is Narcos: Rise of the Cartels' single-character turn structure, which was clearly implemented to speed up battles by keeping players from waiting through a long series of enemy movements and encouraging quick reactions to enemy tactics. Likewise, the first-person counterattack sequences are likely here to add a bit of reflexive real-time action to the mix. Plus, players are provided the locations of all enemies at mission start, meaning there's no reason to slowly skulk and hide in the shadows as foes are revealed one by one. And missions are often surprisingly short, ending after just a handful of enemies have been dispatched and secondary objectives -- such as collecting intel -- completed. It all works just as the designers planned: This is a turn-based game that's quick and reactive rather than slow and strategic.

The problem with all of this, of course, is that people drawn to turn-based strategy games typically enjoy the genre's methodical, tactical pacing. By switching turns after each individual character rather than each team, there's virtually no opportunity to develop a strategy more complex than attack or run. There's almost no chance for squad members to back each other up, provide covering fire, or come to the rescue of a teammate in trouble. For the most part, players simply respond to what the enemy does, because not responding tends to leave your character wide open to attack. And that means we often end up just moving one character at a time, leaving the rest of the team in the deployment zone until either the first soldier dies or finally finds someplace safe to hide while another character moves up. This style of play might lure a few new players to try this type of game, but genre veterans are bound to be a bit disappointed with Narcos: Rise of the Cartels' lack of strategic options.

Game Details

  • Platforms: PlayStation 4 , Windows , Xbox One
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online?: Available online
  • Publisher: Curve Digital
  • Release date: November 18, 2019
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Topics: Adventures
  • ESRB rating: M for Blood, Drug Reference, Strong Language, Violence
  • Last updated: January 13, 2022

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