A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Culling is a downloadable first-person shooter/survival game played online with up to 16 players in free-for-all combat or in teams of two. The game pits players against each other in a life-or-death last-man-standing competition set up as a televised game show. Players craft and discover numerous weapons and traps, including but not limited to steel pipes, spears, brass knuckles, firearms and more. The violence is over the top, with lots of blood spattering and spraying, including on players' screens. Players are rewarded for killing others and surviving longer than others with in-game currency that can be spent in each round of combat. Players will also be rewarded with unlocked items at the end of each match, based on performance.
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What's it about?
THE CULLING is a game show unlike any seen before. Sixteen contestants are dropped off on a tropical island with nothing but their bare hands and their wits to count on. Their goal? Be the last man (or woman) standing at the end of the show. Contestants have 20 minutes to scavenge resources, craft makeshift weapons and traps, and use their cunning and skills to eliminate the competition. Like any good game show, though, there are a few extra twists thrown in to keep players on their toes. Things such as specialized airdrops, booby-trapped bonus deliveries, and even a ring of poisonous gas continuously close in and shrink the play area. Do you have what it takes to survive the culling and lay your claim as its only returning champion?
Is it any good?
What would it be like if the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome were brought to modern days, televised with sports commentary and corporate sponsors? That's pretty much the essence of The Culling. Part Survivor, part Hunger Games, The Culling is an online battle royale that's as creative as it is brutal. The anxiety starts when you're first dropped on the island and make a mad dash to find whatever you can piece into some semblance of a weapon, all the while looking over your shoulder to make sure someone else isn't going to get the jump on you. The tension builds from there, as the off-screen announcer does play-by-play when other players are eliminated.
As much fun as The Culling is to play, it's hard not to feel like it's missing something. That's likely to change as the developers implement new features and additional content. But at the time of review, it doesn't stop the game from coming across as a bit light. Currently, there's only one playable map and only bare-bones character-creation tools. There's also a bit of awkwardness in the character animations, particularly when you're crafting items. Still, the game looks and plays pretty nicely. The controls are responsive, and the weapons feel distinct. Play is extremely well-balanced, too. There's an odd sort of adrenaline rush that comes with not knowing what's around the next corner. It could be a crate with the exact weapon you need to shift the odds in your favor, or it could be a competitor who's armed to the teeth and ready to make sure you're permanently recast for the next episode. That makes each round of The Culling an exciting game to play, even if it's not completely finished yet.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in the media. The Culling is presented as a fictional TV show, but how many real TV shows today sensationalize violence and putting others in danger?
Talk about fame and popularity. Why are people willing to go to outrageous lengths to achieve fame? Does popularity have any actual value or use, and what are some positive ways to both achieve and use it?
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