A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Despite the game simply being about survival, there's still something positive to be found in its focus on the ingenuity required to do so. Being able to overcome obstacles, to learn on the fly, and to manage yourself and your surroundings in crisis situations are all positive messages that the game does a great job of getting across to players.
Positive Role Models
There aren't really any positive or negative role models. The main character is, literally, an expendable shell. Meanwhile, the enemies tend to be either suffering humans or robots following their programming. In fact, based on individual behavior and player actions, some of the "enemies" could switch sides to become allies. Even the titular P.A.M.E.L.A. AI isn't really good or evil but generally just reacts to the decisions of the player.
Ease of Play
While the first-person action is fairly straightforward, the rest of the gameplay can get a bit more complex. Aside from the usual inventory management in many survival horror games, players must also watch out for basic human needs such as food, while also managing resources to create and maintain safe havens. This includes adjusting power consumption of various districts to keep those safe havens operational. The game also features permadeath, forcing players to restart the game entirely (albeit with certain skills and money left intact).
Violence & Scariness
Combat is not a constant occurrence in P.A.M.E.L.A. In fact, you're more likely to die from starvation or infection than you are from combat. However, when you're attacked, you're normally attacked by swarms of Afflicted or overpowering robotic Guardians. A fair amount of blood spills in combat from human enemies, and there is plenty of gore, as the Afflicted humans are shown with bones growing through their bodies, their skin ripped apart, and other grotesque deformities.
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There is occasional use of profanity, particularly in Diary entries that can be collected over the course of the game.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Players have to eat and drink to survive in the game, and some of the available drinks are alcoholic beverages such as whiskey and moonshine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that P.A.M.E.L.A. is a downloadable survival horror game. Players must fight against biologically diseased humans called Afflicted, using a variety of futuristic weapons, including energy blades, poison darts, and other scavenged weapons. There's a fair amount of gore, not only from the Afflicted but also from the corpses of humans who haven't survived infection. This includes exposed muscles and bones, as well as skin ripped from bodies in agonizing mutilations. While the game's controls are fairly easy to learn, there's a lot of micromanagement required, not only for resources to build safe havens but for basic human necessities such as food and drink, some of which include alcohol.
Is It Any Good?
Even in the glitzy and glamorous neon paradise of a high-tech utopia, just surviving to see another day can be a gritty and grueling task. At least that's the case in P.A.M.E.L.A., the futuristic survival horror game. One thing is certain: You're going to die … many, many times and in many, many ways. You might be ripped apart by mutants limb from limb, you may be considered a threat by a robot, or you could simply die of hunger and dehydration. No matter how you go, the fact remains that you will have to learn from your mistakes. The game features a permadeath gameplay style, meaning that when you die in the game, you immediately take over as a new resident brought out of cryosleep to try to survive the horrors of Eden. All your weapons and inventory are gone, but you're not quite a blank slate. Your experience, abilities, and currency carry over from the previous life. Still, at least at the start, it can be a very frustrating, repetitive experience, especially when you think you've finally made some significant progress, only to die and start over because of some random, procedurally generated threat. This happens less and less as you get more abilities, but it never stops that pain of losing everything you worked so hard to build.
It's easy to toss someone into the unknown and just tell them "don't die," but the reality of the situation is much more complex. There's a lot the player has to manage at any given time. Your inventory space is limited, your resources are sparse, you need to manage the city's power grid to help keep your makeshift camp(s) operational, and you need to keep a constant eye on your health to make sure you don't drop dead at a moment's notice. All of this is happening on top of combat. If the clunky combat controls are any indication, the folks in Eden cryosleep chambers aren't exactly trained fighters. Trying to fend off attackers feels sluggish and, many times, is barely effective. Even at higher levels, it's too easy to get swarmed, overpowered, and otherwise slaughtered. Right now, though, the biggest threat you'll face isn't death. After all, death is easy … it's the glitches that are rough. Couple excruciatingly long load times with freezing and game-ending crashes, and it sometimes feels like you're spending more time in load screens than actually playing. Make no mistake, though -- when the game is running on all cylinders, it's an amazing experience not like anything else in the genre. There's just still a decent bit of work that needs to be done to make the technical aspects of the game as pristine as the city of Eden used to be.
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.