A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that PixARK is an open-world sandbox survival game available for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows-based PCs. The game is a based largely on Studio Wildcard’s ARK: Survival Evolved game, though with the pixelated art style and basic mechanics of other sandbox games such as Minecraft or Lego Worlds. Players are dropped onto an island populated with a variety of prehistoric and fantasy creatures, and are challenged to survive by hunting, harvesting, crafting, and building everything they need from the island’s available resources. Combat and hunting are regular occurrences, with players either fending off or hunting the various predators and monsters in the game. There's some blood occasionally shown onscreen, though the pixelated art style keeps this from being to graphic or detailed. Parents should also be aware that the game can be played solo or with others via online play, which could potentially open kids up to exposure to inappropriate language, content, or behavior from other players.
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What's it about?
The world of PIXARK is a world of near endless potential, and nearly as much danger. Based on the ARK: Survival Evolved adventure survival game, PixARK drops players into a pixelated sandbox island populated with prehistoric dinosaurs and creatures of myth and fantasy, most of which are looking to make you a tasty snack. To survive, you’ll need to hunt for food, collect water, and build shelter so you can live to see another day. To thrive, you’ll need to take things a step further, capturing and training wildlife, planting and harvesting crops, and working in harmony with the environment to create a new home. You can work alone to build your island paradise or go online and work with others and develop a bustling community from the ground up. PixARK is a world where you’re only limited by your ingenuity and instinct. What adventures will your world hold?
Is it any good?
While this sandbox game has a decent amount of creativity, the survival elements can overwhelm and drown out the gameplay with its complexity. PixARK tries to straddle the main gameplay objectives of many modern sandbox games: Create or Survive. Players are either given a vast array of tools to build to their hearts’ content or they’re dropped into a harsh environment and forced to gather what they can find to craft what they need to live to see the next day. PixARK attempts to bring both of these worlds together, mixing the survival mechanics and setting of ARK: Survival Evolved with the more family-friendly feel of games like Minecraft or Lego Worlds. While there’s definitely some interesting and even fun potential in patching together these two distinct gameplay styles, it’s still far from a seamless experience.
For starters, PixARK leans a little too heavily into the whole “survival” theme from ARK, especially early on. Just about everything in the world seems to be out to kill you, and does so with some frustrating regularity. The randomness of the procedurally generated worlds means its entirely possible to constantly get overpowered by hostile creatures with no way to defend yourself. This isn’t helped by the fact that combat, even at its best, is sluggish, awkward, and all but useless. Imagine for a second trying to fend off a T-Rex with a twig; that’s basically what you’re dealing with. You also need to keep a constant eye on things like your character’s hunger, thirst, and even body temperature. It’s not a casual experience by any means. But despite these complications, once you start to adjust to the difficulty and complexities of the game, a lot of fun options begin to open up. Taming and using animals, especially dinosaurs, feels unique among the usual sandbox style games. And there’s no shortage of things to craft and use in new and inventive ways, but only if you live long enough and level up enough to get access to these parts of the game.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about online interactions in gaming. What are some of the things for kids and parents to watch out for when playing online games with other players? What should kids do when confronted with offensive content or toxic behavior?
How do sandbox games like PixARK and Minecraft inspire and encourage creativity? What are some of the unique ways players can interact with these worlds to make it their own?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Subjects: Science: animals, ecosystems and the environment
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: problem solving
Creativity: imagination, innovation, making new creations
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Snail Games USA
- Release date: May 31, 2019
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Dinosaurs, Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: T for Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood
- Last updated: June 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.