Perils of Man: Episode 1

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Perils of Man: Episode 1 Game Poster Image
Fascinating adventure only held back by some hard puzzles.
  • Mac
  • $4.99
  • 2014

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Themes from the game include using intelligence to solve problems, uncover knowledge, and save lives. They also cover using personal responsibility to respond to challenges and being willing to be responsible for discoveries that can affect others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ana's a great role model. She's highly intelligent, brave, adventuresome, and determined. As the latest in a long line of scientific geniuses, she's well prepared to understand her father, grandfather, and great-grandfather's discoveries, as well as shoulder the responsibility that knowledge demands.

Ease of Play

Everything -- movement, dialogue, and item use -- is done by tapping or clicking on the screen.

Violence & Scariness

Some suggestion of violence during a sequence relating a deadly historical theater fire, but nothing graphic or explicit is shown.

Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Perils of Man: Episode 1 is a downloadable adventure game in which a teenage girl tries to uncover her family's secrets. Ana is a resourceful, intelligent young girl who's trying to save lives and shoulder heavy burdens of scientific discoveries. Although this fanciful story and its frequently amusing dialogue are completely appropriate for children of all ages, some character interactions and puzzles could be too complex for younger children to fully understand. Fortunately, movement and interaction with objects are handled by clicking or tapping on the screen. There's one moment when a theater owner drinks a beer and a mention of a historic fire that sounds mildly violent, but there's no objectionable content otherwise.

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What's it about?

PERILS OF MAN: EPISODE 1 is the story of Ana Eberling, a teenage genius who comes from a long line of geniuses. Living in an echoey mansion with her ghost-obsessed, overprotective mother, Ana longs to see something beyond the four walls of her room. More than that, she longs to find her long-lost father -- or at least learn the reasons behind his disappearance. A mysterious gadget created by her grandfather promises to help her uncover her father's secret work; once she gets it working, it takes her on a journey through time and space. There, with the help of an unusual sidekick sent by her ancestors, she's challenged to find the means to avert a large-scale disaster.

Is it any good?

Perils of Man: Episode 1 is an adventure in the spirit of the much-loved point-and-clicks of the 1980s. It's a fantastic combination of story, exploration, and puzzle-solving. The main character, Ana, is fun to play because she comes from a long line of mad geniuses who've left her a legacy of cool gadgets, top-secret information, and potentially world-changing discoveries. The game's main point is finding out what exactly Ana's absentee father was up to before he left. That provides plenty of puzzles in the form of codes that need deciphering, machines that need fixing, and secret doors that need opening. Most kids (and many adults) would love finding a secret lab full of Jules Verne-like items under their houses, and Perils of Man lets them do just that. There's a lot of dialogue, but it's generally amusing and good at providing subtle hints. That's a good thing, because some puzzles can only be solved with these hints and an alternate viewpoint from a unique gadget. Players who forget to use this alternate view could get stumped on a couple of the challenges. There's also one puzzle using map coordinates that's fairly confusing due to its clunky interface.

Despite this, Perils of Man is a lot of fun to play, and it looks and sounds great. It starts with a stylish homage to the Twilight Zone narrated by a Rod Serling lookalike and goes on to reveal a world rendered in wonderfully Tim Burton-esque 3-D. The characters are comically exaggerated, and their charming surroundings are skewed to match. Further, the visual presentation is supported by funny, clever writing and expert voice acting, not to mention a moody musical score. But, as with so many games made in an episodic format, the main weakness is that it ends on a frustrating cliffhanger. Just when things start to get good, the credits roll, and you realize you'll have to wait who-knows-how-long before finding out what happens next. Even so, Perils of Man is an entertaining and inventive adventure game that's well worth playing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about female character representation in games like Perils of Man. Ana is a strong, intelligent, capable character; not many games feature characters like her. Why do you think that is? What do you think would inspire more such characters to be created?

  • Families can talk about what it's like to grow up in a house with only one parent. What are the benefits, and what are the drawbacks?

  • Talk about your family's ancestry. Do you know what your grandparents and great-grandparents did for a living?

Game details

  • Platforms: Mac
  • Price: $4.99
  • Pricing structure: Free to try, Paid (The Episode's first chapter is a free download. The second chapter (a continuation of the narrative in chapter 1) is $4.99.)
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: IF Games
  • Release date: October 17, 2014
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Topics: Adventures, Great Girl Role Models, Science and Nature
  • ESRB rating: NR

Themes & Topics

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