The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition Game Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Violent fantasy RPG makes players think about their actions.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 37 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Illustrates how actions come with predictable consequences (attack a civilian, authorities will arrest you; make a deal with a person in an argument, his adversary will dislike you). Also contains themes of religion, politics, duty, fate.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main character -- whose gender, race, appearance are completely customizable -- is a blank slate to start, waiting for player's decisions to create his/her personality, reputation. Throughout game, players will make choices seen by nonplayer characters as good or evil; these decisions will shape how world sees that character.

Ease of Play

Straightforward controls for veteran gamers, but underlying systems -- including skills, crafting -- are complex, will take time to fully appreciate, understand.


Players use medieval weapons -- swords, axes, bows and arrows -- as well as magic to attack human, humanoid characters from a first-person perspective. Blood gushes, spatters the ground with each successful hit; enemies scream in pain. Slow-motion sequences designed to glamorize action. Environments frequently show remnants of past battles, violence, with bones, bodies, blood littering floors, tables.


Dialogue discusses sexual subject matter, including prostitution, rape.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink wine, ale in pubs; some side missions have story elements involving alcohol, such as a drinking contest. Imbibing certain types of alcoholic beverages can grant temporary status upgrades.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is a remastered release of a first-person fantasy role-playing game with frequent and intense violence. Players use medieval-style weapons and magic to slice, bludgeon, and burn human and humanoid enemies to death, often covering the ground in blood and viscera in the process. There's no profanity or sex, but players will encounter dialogue that makes reference to "whores" and "rape," and several scenes include depictions of people -- including the player's character -- drinking alcohol and wine, sometimes to gain status boosts.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySarah H. July 16, 2017

Pretty Good.

It's a fine game, lots of choice and options.

Don't give it to young kids. Don't believe me? Someone gets their head chopped off, right before y... Continue reading
Adult Written byBob S. December 31, 2017

It's fine for Teens. Not any worse than Lord of the rings.

Ok so every thing in the officel review needs to be taken for granted. The game though dose talk about rape, though there never is any rape and the main charact... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byJ KRYSIS November 24, 2019

Brilliant game

I have put 100s of hours into this game, I believe it's a really great game and to be honest, it's a more suitable game for kids than most RPGs these... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byJunkieDiavolo May 4, 2021


If I remember correctly you can turn down the violence levels.
As long as your kid can stomach fictional violence they should be fine. I absolutely adored playi... Continue reading

What's it about?

One of the all-time classic fantasy role-playing games gets the current-generation treatment in THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM SPECIAL EDITION. Remastered for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC, this new edition of the game tells the same story told in the original about a person wandering between cities and villages embroiled in civil war in the harsh Nordic land of Skyrim. He (or she) must also come to terms with what it means to be a Dragonborn -- a rare individual linked to dragons in spirit, speech, and power. But the main quests actually make up the minority of missions in what turns out to be a 200-plus-hour adventure, the bulk of which will be spent performing side quests involving various characters and factions as well as one-off missions discovered in both towns and the wild. This provides players ample opportunity to level up their characters, unlock new abilities, and discover and craft better equipment. The Special Edition includes all official expansion content released after the original game, the ability to play PC mods on consoles, and new visual effects meant to bring the game closer to modern graphical standards.

Is it any good?

There's little arguing the original Skyrim is a masterpiece of the genre, but this remake just slightly underperforms due to its age. You'd expect that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition -- which is basically just the original game with prettier graphics -- would be just as satisfying, but strangely, it's not. Its massive sandbox world is still remarkable in scope and sophistication, and the range of options and choices remains so broad that the game feels almost unlimited in its possibilities. And including all expansion content plus access to PC mods on consoles is a treat. It should be noted that mods range from the benign to the controversial; for example, there are some mods which remove the clothing of all characters in the game, or add in other mature subject matter. This means that users should beware about the content they decide to download.

But time is catching up with Skyrim in other ways. The new effects -- depth-of-field camera tricks, god rays, enhanced snow and water -- are nice but can't quite cover up the aging textures and character models, which weren't particularly advanced even when the game was released in 2011 on older hardware. Plus, the branching dialogue and stiff combat feel a bit old-fashioned compared with competing RPGs that have since been released, like Dragon Age: Inquisition and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. It's still a terrific game that's well worth playing for those who missed it the first time around, but it also clearly illustrates how quickly games -- and game genres -- tend to evolve over time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Many of Skyrim's missions include violence against soldiers and guards who are fighting for what they believe is right, but while fighting these characters, did you consider their backstories -- and whether or not they deserved or needed to be killed?

  • Talk about choice in games. Do you like it when games let you decide how to proceed? Do you find that having a choice makes you think more about morality and consequences? When games give you a clear choice between good and evil, which do you normally choose, and why?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love RPGs

Themes & Topics

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