A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rusty Lake Paradise is a downloadable first-person point-and-click adventure game with mature themes. Characters are creepy in a David Lynch Twin Peaks kind of way (weird and potentially violent), and the game features disturbing imagery of killing small animals and cutting into human bodies. It also features gross-out humor, including disgusting skin conditions and nonsexual bodily emissions, as well as nightmarish sequences related to grief and loss.
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What's it about?
RUSTY LAKE PARADISE follows its hero back to his family's home after his mother has died. There, he confronts his bizarre father, uncle, grandmother, and siblings, all who behave strangely and seem to be complicit somehow in his mother's death. In keeping with its inspiration (David Lynch's Twin Peaks), the story revolves around a series of weird images and unlikely connections. Players progress by exploring the 2D environments, solving puzzles, and clicking on everything just to see what happens.
Is it any good?
This is the third game in this creepy adventure series, continuing in the vein of that series' dark, unsettling themes, but it's one to keep away from little kids. The game starts harmlessly enough: Simple 2D artwork and a melodic keyboard-centric music score set you up for a nostalgic journey exploring a rustic island getaway. Then you land, and you're in the midst of a bizarre Twin Peaksian nightmare.
Rusty Lake Paradise explores the serious theme of sacrifice and loss through references to the biblical story of the Ten Plagues. Never an easy part of life, loss in this instance is shrouded in mystery; the hero revisits a childhood turned strange, where every person and every setting seems vaguely threatening. Family members act like wooden mannequins and make freakish requests. Fulfilling these requests has you doing things as innocuous as making ice cream and as brutal as killing small animals. You're also challenged to thoroughly explore every area (sometimes more than once) and to solve some truly unique puzzles. Puzzles are the game's strong point; though some contain more gross-out factor than they probably need, they're all cleverly conceived and uniquely presented. You're frequently unsure of what solving them will do, and that's part of the fun. The rest comes from the story's family mystery, the quirky, unexpected interactions, the emotionally evocative soundtrack, and the surreal, dreamlike imagery. Still, its grim themes, blood, and decidedly pessimistic ending make it a game that young children and those with weak stomachs should probably steer clear of.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about grief and memory. When you lose someone you love, does it help to relive your memories of that person?
Think about how time affects memory. Which memories fade over time? What is it that keeps some memories fresh?
Discuss a quote by author Thomas Wolfe: "You can't go home again." It refers to returning to a place you knew and finding it unfamiliar. Have you ever experienced this phenomenon?
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