Parents' Guide to


By Joey Thurmond, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Cryptic, cinematic adventure highlights hope and sacrifice.

The cover for Somerville depicts a man and his pet dog looking at the man's wife and child in the near distance. An alien ship takes up the entire background and is shining a purple light on them all.

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This sci-fi adventure doesn't have a single line of dialogue, but it does have gorgeous set pieces, animation, and art direction. Somerville starts as a simple mission to survive and find your character's family in the midst of an alien invasion. As it unfolds, the tale evolves into something complex and cryptic with reflections on sacrifice, duty, and the cost of warfare. The adventure spans a desolate city, a network of mining tunnels, and more as you solve environmental puzzles to carry onward. These brainteasers often involve using light to dissolve debris made out of an alien material that riddles landscapes and blocks your path. Solutions include moving a pair of jumper cables to a car engine to turn on its headlights, and pushing a cart with an adjustable floodlight to just the right spot. Somerville is great about avoiding repetition by never using any tools or machinery more than twice, making each puzzle feel distinct. When a new power is introduced halfway through the experience that allows you to alter that alien material in a different way, surprising new layers of depth are added to the puzzles.

Nevertheless, it would've been nice to have seen one or two more powers add more novelty and complexity in using the alien material to your advantage. Somerville could have also benefitted from some design conveniences like a sprint button and clearer level design, since navigation can be awkward in knowing exactly where you need to go. There are minor visual issues as well, but these don't adversely affect the overall gameplay or presentation. Somerville may be a short game that clocks in at about four hours of playtime, but it's a finely crafted experience dripping with atmosphere and attention to detail in all its visuals and audio. It will leave you with more questions than answers by the time the credits roll, but the game deserves further reflection, even a second playthrough, with how mysterious, yet compelling, it is.

Game Details

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