A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
While the main focus is to survive the hordes of alien infected people, there's still a strong element of teamwork and cooperation. Players can revive and heal injured teammates and even trigger respawns to bring back others downed earlier in the game.
Positive Role Models
While there's banter between the four main characters throughout each match, there's not much character development. Instead, each serves as a sort of generic stereotype to act as the player's avatar.
While none of it's necessarily expanded on within the game, the four player characters do represent a small range in terms of gender and racial diversity.
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Ease of Play
The game's a relatively basic first-person shooter game. There's an artificial intelligence element that's meant to scale the difficulty based on the players' performance, but there are also no real consequences for death, as players can be respawned at any time.
Violence & Scariness
Although violence is a focal point of the game, it's relatively tame compared to most first-person shooters. Enemy damage is represented by splashes of glowing orange "blood" and the player's screen features a red tint around the edges when critically low on health.
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While there's no profanity baked into the dialogue, its focus on online multiplayer means that players could still be exposed to offensive language from others via in-game party chat.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Anacrusis is a downloadable sci-fi themed cooperative first-person shooter available for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Windows based PCs. Players team up in groups of four and fight their way from point to point on a massive cruise ship in space. Gamers use an arsenal of science fiction themed weapons against alien infected enemies. While the violence is non-stop, it's not particularly graphic in nature. Instead, damage is represented by splashes of glowing orange blood from enemies and a red tinge around the screen for critical player damage. Teamwork is a focal point as well, though parents should be aware that the online nature of the game could expose younger players to offensive behavior from others via party chat.
Is It Any Good?
Most cooperative shooter games tend to be dark, dismal, and have a distinct horror movie vibe. The Anacrusis, on the other hand, takes a completely different approach, dropping the offbeat style, bright colors, and funky attitude of the '60s into a sci-fi backdrop. For the most part, it succeeds in helping the game to stand out. That's a good thing too, because from a gameplay perspective, there's not a lot that feels very original here. In a lot of ways, The Anacrusis feels like a generic boilerplate copy of games like Back 4 Blood or Earthfall, taking their base mechanics and slapping on a bright coat of paint. Each mission takes place over massive maps, but with repetition that leaves players with a sort of "Are we there yet?" feeling when moving through the same set dressing over and over again. There are also some technical issues still to be ironed out. Sometimes, enemies will get stuck in the floor or behind a wall. Some animations are rough too, with characters and enemies sliding along the floor rather than running. These are minor gripes though that could be fixed later on down the road.
While The Anacrusis is pretty formulaic at its core, it does have a few nifty tricks up its sleeve. One of these, borrowed from Back 4 Blood, is the "AI Driver." Like those games, The Anacrusis uses artificial intelligence to mix up certain elements like power-ups while monitoring players' skills and adjusting the difficulty accordingly. It insures that each playthrough is a unique experience. The best feature, though, and one that is a fantastic addition to the genre, is "AFK Mode." If a player need to step away during a match (for a bathroom break, to answer the door, etc.), they can switch on AFK Mode and an AI bot will temporarily take over for them. Once finished, the player simply switches off AFK Mode and jumps right back in the action without ever leaving their teammates high and dry. The Anacrusis might not be the most original or most polished cooperative first-person shooter on the market, but it's just different enough to stand out.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.