Spirits of Xanadu

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Spirits of Xanadu Game Poster Image
Horror adventure shooter fires more than a few blanks.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Main positive message is in successful completion of mission. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players take on role of an astronaut fixing a ship who just wants to finish job and go home.

Ease of Play

Shooter controls are clunky, difficult to use; players can easily get frustrated with lack of precision.

Violence

Players shoot up robots in typical first-person-shooter manner, but no blood. One difficulty level called "Peaceful" has no violence whatsoever.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Ashtrays with cigarette butts that players can light up, smoke. Can light, smoke cigarettes found in desks.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Spirits of Xanadu is a downloadable adventure that combines elements of horror (slowly revealed as the player's character, the one exploring and fixing the ship, begins to lose touch with reality) with adventure, puzzle-solving, and shooter elements. Though you may shoot robots, there's no blood shown; the game can even be played on a "Peaceful" setting, which eliminates violence and heightens the exploration and puzzle-solving elements. Players also can smoke cigarettes found across the game; otherwise, there's no objectionable content.

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What's it about?

SPIRITS OF XANADU is a first-person action-adventure, with puzzles that need to be solved, as well as elements of horror and a first-person shooter. The research vessel, Xanadu, appears to be stranded in orbit around a mysterious planet. The three-man crew hasn't responded to hails from Earth, although the ship's systems seem to be active. A lone operative has been sent to explore the Xanadu, discover what happened to the crew, and restore the ship's systems so it might return to Earth. Players piece together information found throughout, dealing with the madness that resulted in the demise of the crew. Robots, hostile to the intrusion, must be avoided or destroyed. In addition to the three difficulty settings, Xanadu offers a "Peaceful" setting that allows players to solve the puzzle without using violence of any kind, as well as three possible endings to the story.

Is it any good?

Spirits of Xanadu is a simple game that struggles with controls (they're clunky, and it's hard to target quickly) during the shooting elements. At least it allows gamers to play the game the way they want. If shooting at robots isn't your thing, the "Peaceful" setting lets players simply explore the game's puzzles and solve the mystery of what befell the crew members. Unfortunately, the game is short (taking about three or four hours to complete), and despite having three endings, replaying isn't necessary. Plus, the visuals are a clear throwback to older titles and aren't impressive or distinctive enough to keep a player's attention.

The upside of the game is that the story and exploration elements are fairly good, and the player starts to challenge everything he or she knows when whatever madness that gripped the crew begins to infringe on the reality of the lone explorer's vision. This is a very nice touch, and though it provides the horror elements, it also gives the game some slight depth. Overall, Spirits of Xanadu is an unimpressive experience. It offers a nice, short exploration game with some horror and puzzle elements, but the significant number of flaws in the gameplay and the visuals keep this from being an enjoyable adventure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about solving puzzles. How do you approach puzzles you discover in games? Are there any methods you use that can be applied to real life?

  • Talk about violence in video games. Is the violence in Spirits of Xanadu acceptable because you're fighting robots?

Game details

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