Rituals

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Rituals Game Poster Image
Short adventure captivates with puzzles, intriguing story.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Grim, unclear, but message seems to be to protect, preserve the environment. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Difficult to discern; no real characters besides the environment. 

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to learn.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rituals is a downloadable adventure that's bursting with symbolism, not really what you would traditionally think of as a video game. An attentive player might blow through it in an hour, but this isn't a game meant to be torn through. Instead, you're supposed to quietly consider the plot as you progress. There are only a handful of puzzles, but as they unravel, the world gets stranger and stranger -- the sort of thing that will stick with you for a while.

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What's it about?

In RITUALS, you start off in an office building, shutting off your lights for the night presumably to head home. But you never get there, instead riding an elevator down and stepping off into a forest. Things get stranger and stranger from there, as you start to uncover what the company you work for is actually involved with. There are no clear-cut answers or questions asked, just suggestions of corporate wrongdoing, the degree to which an individual could be culpable, and what that person's responsibility might be. This all sounds vague, but that's what Rituals is like. It's never teasingly coy; it simply sketches out enough rough lines for you to pick up the threads before deciding how to stitch them up.

Is it any good?

Rituals is fascinating and strange, and whether a younger player will enjoy it will have everything to do with his or her patience for things that don't readily offer answers. If you enjoy piecing together context clues and puzzling over them, as you might have with Twin Peaks, then you'll thoroughly enjoy this. It lasts about an hour and encourages multiple play-throughs, as you'll undoubtedly miss stuff your first and second times through -- though, unlike other games, it's short enough that trekking through again doesn't feel like an enormous task. That alone is worth some praise.

Also worth praise is the game at large. It's so unusual yet straightforward, and the world feels both so sparse and yet fully realized (the sound design in particular -- each environment feels full even if it's been abandoned), that it's difficult not to get sucked in. The game is short, puzzling, and eerie. It's both similar to and unlike other point-and-click adventures, where the focus here is just making a few decisions and being observational enough to scoop up a handful of items -- a stark difference from earlier genre titles where you had to compulsively pick up anything not nailed down and try infinite combinations of everything everywhere to move forward. This isn't like that. This is much more thoughtful, focused, and poignant. Definitely worth a look. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the environment. The house your kids are growing up in now -- what did that lot of land used to be decades or centuries before? 

  • Do some companies hurt the ecosystem? Should we be worried about such things? 

  • If you want to help this planet, what can you do? 

Game details

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For kids who love adventure

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