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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Starbound is a downloadable sandbox adventure game. There's mild violence in the game but nothing too graphic, plus the visuals are purposely pixelated for a retro effect. Controls can be a bit confusing at first, but it only takes a few play sessions to fully understand them. Plus, there are three difficulty levels to provide a challenge for players.
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What's it about?
In STARBOUND, you play as a sole survivor of a destroyed planet, who escapes into space and then beams down onto an alien world. While the beginning is more or less the same for all players (although you do choose your race, gender, physical appearance, and more), it doesn't take long before your decisions shape this open-ended sandbox world. All you've got is a Matter Manipulator and a beat-up sword, and you're off to unlock the mysteries of this world. Can you find resources to repair your damaged ship? Will you fight back against the forces that destroyed your home world? Or will you colonize uncharted planets, collect odd creatures, battle in dungeons, and craft as many new items as you can? It's entirely up to you. Starbound also includes an optional cooperative multiplayer component (drop-in and drop-out co-op play), plus the game can be "modded" (modified), where you're given the tools to add new quests, races, dungeons, and more.
Is it any good?
This open-world sandbox-style game is highly enjoyable and replayable. It's also a unique experience, as Starbound is part adventure, part 2D platformer, and part sandbox game with countless building, crafting, and collecting elements. You can build huge structures, have tenants move in and pay you, and meet characters (or even alien creatures) who may want to join in your quests. You can follow the story or go about your business to explore underwater kingdoms or enormous castles. Starbound offers a ton of variety yet somehow doesn't seem overwhelming to the player. There are also three difficulty levels to play at your own pace. While the retro graphics might not be for everyone, and the controls take some getting used to, it's hard to deny the appeal of this indie game. But be sure to carve some time out of your schedule as there's so much to see, craft, build, collect, and fight in this charming adventure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about creativity. What sparks your imagination? How do you like to act upon your ideas? Is there a particular media in which you like to express yourself, or do you prefer using whatever is at hand?
Talk about the appeal of "sandbox"-style games, such as Minecraft and Terraria. Is it because it's more about construction than destruction? Or the fact that it's open-ended and no two games are the same? Are these games more addictive than structured games?
- Platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows
- Price: $14.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Chucklefish Ltd
- Release date: August 1, 2016
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Robots, Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.