Smoke and Sacrifice

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Smoke and Sacrifice Game Poster Image
Stylized story focuses on struggle to survive terrible odds.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Focus of story is survival, finding ways to use environment and resources to keep living. Also focuses on a parent's search for her lost child, and the sense of responsibility felt as a result.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sachi is a strong, intelligent character, determined in her goals and able to adapt to nearly any situation. She's a survivor, with skills to make the most out of what's around her.

Ease of Play

Eases players into crafting system. Easy to pick up, but can still be a challenge to maintain a balance of required elements and resources.

Violence

Fair amount of violence, whether Sachi is defending herself or hunting for resources. Not much blood shown, most enemies fall apart or fade away when defeated, though they do tend to leave body parts behind to be harvested.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Smoke and Sacrifice is a downloadable survival role-playing game for the Nintendo Switch and Windows PCs. Players are dropped into an unfamiliar world where they need to learn to adapt and survive using available resources and by helping out others in need. Crafting items is a simple process, though harvesting the required materials can get a bit tricky, especially when balancing out all of the character's needs, inventory space, etc. There's a fair amount of combat in the game, with players using melee weapons, explosives, and more against threats. Little blood is shown, but many creatures leave chunks of meat and body parts behind to be harvested and used. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content.

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What's it about?

SMOKE AND SACRIFICE introduces players to a land teetering on the brink of extinction. The sole community left is alive only by the grace of the mystical Sun Tree and its benevolent light. Sachi, a young mother, is forced to give up her infant son as the latest ritualistic offering for the Sun Tree's blessing, but soon discovers that there's more to the Sun Tree's power than initially imagined. It serves as a bridge between this world and the world beneath, a place surrounded by a poisonous mist that steals both life and memory. Now, Sachi must fight through this mysterious place, surviving by her wits and her ingenuity, while she seeks out the fate of her lost son and a way to break this world's dark curse once and for all.

Is it any good?

This adventure asks players to imagine the heartache of being forced to give up your only child to save your people, then imagine what you might do to get that child back. In Smoke and Sacrifice, players are dropped into a cursed world with little more than determination to find their lost family and their overwhelming will to live. The open world environment may be full of danger, but it's also filled with opportunity, because resources abound in this strange land, providing what you need to craft the tools necessary for endure these hazards. Smoke and Sacrifice's story puts a more personal spin on the survival role-playing game. As Sachi explores the world, searching for her son, you can't help but care about what she's going through. It's more than just surviving the wilderness, it's survival in all aspects of the world. And its living, breathing world feels as vital to the story as Sachi.

Smoke and Sacrifice walks a fine line with its gameplay. On one hand, crafting what you need feels natural and intuitive. Sachi can build many items that can also be customized for different situations. But combat can take a little bit to get used to, though, due to the game's unique art style. Characters move like marionette puppets, so it can be difficult to judge distances, hit areas, and more. It can be frustrating to try fighting off a creature or harvesting resources, only to keep underestimating their position and constantly miss. Eventually, it's something most players will adjust to, but it can make things harder. This isn't an easy game either. Managing the basics such as food and light sources while focusing on your quest goals and fighting packs of wild creatures can feel overwhelming. And though you can constantly upgrade your equipment to new and better bits of armor or arsenal, the enemies are always improving what they're capable of as well. It's a true battle for survival, but it's a battle that never feels boring or mundane.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the violence in Smoke and Sacrifice acceptable because it's committed against monsters instead of people? Are you comfortable with the combat because it's for survival instead of being gratuitous, or should it not be included at all?

  • What are some ways that you could use the world around you to survive in the wild? Does that give you a new perspective on natural resources?

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