Pulse

Game review by
Marcia Morgan, Common Sense Media
Pulse Game Poster Image
Dark tale with vibrant colors lacks deep gameplay.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

In spite of blindness, family desire to hold her back, protect her, main character tackles enduring challenges as she sets out on an ancestral pilgrimage. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main character able to overcome her disability in a creative way that's actually used in real world. On the other hand, she's also left home against her parents' wishes. 

Ease of Play

Even with lack of tutorial, simple controls are easy to learn. But attempting to jump, navigate around an environment you can't see makes frustrating gameplay. 

Violence

Though no notable violence, a major theme is fear of the unknown. You play a blind girl with a heightened sense of sound, so some parts where you hear yourself breathing heavily in fear, music intensifies, is pretty intense, terrifying. Eva can die, such as by drowning, but this is quickly moved to resetting play at checkpoint.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pulse is a unique downloadable first-person experience where players take control of a blind character named Eva who navigates the world around her through echolocation (the use of sound to determine the location of obstacles). Perception is key in regards to violence. Innocent things can seem scary, as they are from the viewpoint of a blind girl imagining what's in front of her. A main theme of the game is the curiosity to move forward even when you're scared, making it a bit too intense for younger players. Though controls are easy to figure out even without a tutorial, trying to navigate or perform jumps with a sight-impaired character can be challenging.

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What's it about?

In PULSE, players take on the role of a young girl named Eva, who lost her sight at an early age. Since then, Eva has learned to use sounds to create a mental image of things around her through a process similar to echolocation. Anything that makes noise helps reveal the world around her. Using this ability, and with help from adorable forest spirits called Mokos, Eva defies her parents and ventures out to explore the forbidden paths walked by her ancestors. The game focuses on sensations, fear of the unknown, and what your mind can conjure up when you can't see. 

Is it any good?

For a game whose lead character is someone without the gift of sight, the game is still very visually appealing, even if it's held back by its shallow play. Pulse has a unique minimalist artistic style, filled with color and life. Unfortunately, this also highlights one of its main drawbacks: It's big on style but small on substance. The game can be played through from start to finish in only a couple of hours, and there's even an Achievement for finishing it in 30 minutes or less. Think about that: You can order a pizza before you start and theoretically finish the game before the pizza arrives.

The mechanic of using sound to guide Eva is innovative and does a great job of slowly revealing the world around you. You can only see so long as you're moving, but stand still for too long and your world is pitched back into darkness. The Mokos are adorable creatures that aid you in your journey; flinging them ahead of you helps illuminate your path. But aside from that, they really don't seem to serve much of a purpose. Though Pulse has some neat concepts, sadly the gameplay is pretty average, and the story line is entirely too vague.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about overcoming disabilities. What are some ways that people have devised to overcome particularly difficult obstacles in life?

  • Talk about the five senses: sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste. If you had to give up one of them, which would you choose? How different would your daily life be?

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