The Golden Compass

Common Sense Media says

Game falls short of both the film and the book.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Lyra acts out of a desire to help her uncle, her daemon Pantalaimon, and her friends. But she has a willful nature and is often disobedient. Conversations frequently involve Lyra deceiving another character in order to get her way.

Violence

As Iorek the bear, players kill many wolves and human hunters. There's no blood, but Iorek growls and bares his teeth. In one cutscene, Iorek bites a wolf through the middle and tosses it aside. Iorek tells Lyra that "armored bears enjoy fighting as you do breathing."

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Lyra is taught to "swear" by a Gyptian sailor in order to fit in and uses curses like "squid-head."

Consumerism

The game is a tie-in to The Golden Compass film.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Lyra, the main character, frequently deceives people -- often by lying -- to get what she wants. For example, she tricks a servant into letting her into her uncle's quarters, and tells her uncle that she's been behaving -- when she'd been throwing plum pits at a teacher. Iorek the armored bear kills lots of wolves and human hunters. There's no blood, but he growls and bares his teeth, and in one cut scene, he's shown biting a wolf through the middle and tossing it around.

Parents say

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Kids say

What's it about?

The story takes place in a world in which humans have special \"daemon\" companions who appear in animal form. A 12-year-old girl named Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon, embark on a journey to save Lyra's friend after he's kidnapped by shadowy figures known as the Gobblers. Lyra's journey takes her to several wondrous locations, including a winter wasteland inhabited by talking, armored polar bears. She also finds herself in danger, since she seems to be the only one who can control the mysterious Golden Compass.

As Lyra, players can run and jump to explore their surroundings, using Pantalaimon's different forms to access new areas. With the Golden Compass, Lyra can answer questions by deciphering a riddle that involves matching keywords with symbols around the compass. Players can also take on the role of Iorek the armored bear, who is primarily used for fighting off wolves.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

While there are some good ideas here, The Golden Compass suffers from extremely subpar production values, clunky controls, and repetitive gameplay. Lyra's conversations with other characters can take forever since players have to win a short Mini game before she can speak.

Gameplay is intercut with live-action scenes from the movie, which is a nice touch. But these scenes also serve to make the transition back to the game's primitive graphics that much more jarring. Die-hard fans of the movie might be able to appreciate this game on some level, but overall it has the aura of a rushed and mediocre movie tie-in.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how lying is portrayed. When Lyra lies, was it her only choice, or could she have found other ways to get characters to help her? Did you play this game because you liked the movie or book (or both)? Do you think the game did a good job creating an interactive world based on the movie?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PSP, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Windows, PlayStation 2
Price:$49.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Sega of America
Release date:December 4, 2007
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Magic and fantasy
ESRB rating:E10+ for Mild Language, Violence (Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PSP, Windows, Xbox 360)

This review of The Golden Compass was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

I lost six brain cells playing this!

This is the Worst game ever!
Teen, 15 years old Written byMaryRiddle October 5, 2013
AGE
16
QUALITY
 

You've got it all wrong...

Kay, so I bought this game when I like 10 back in 2008. Omg, this was (well, still is) one of the worst games ever created in the history of video games. I'm not even kidding, I know that there are really sucky games out there, but out of the best ones this one is like, top bottom (yes, top, because it has pretty high quality graphic design - PSP3, I don't know what you utilized). The game neither wholly matches the books nor the movie and in the beginning, once you continue the game you'll be really confused about the bear.. Technically there is violence because, well a lot of things are shattered and Iorek (the bear) kills a lot of the enemies they have to face and yes, she is deceitful, but hey, if she hadn't been she wouldn't have been able to survive. The mini games are quite vexing, some are hard and well, some are actually pretty enjoyable. But all in all, my point is that you just shouldn't buy it, but in a way it is beautiful. I hate this game with a passion. Yet, it is admirable. This game taught me so much that I will never forget (and it teaches a lot of vocabulary (y)) and it teaches about being humanitarian, compassionate, passionate/love, and to not give up and to be brave, etc. One of the reasons that I have played this game more than three times, is because of that. It's a frustrating game and so hard to win, but it's worth it. It's kind of like life; you just want to quit, but you have to keep moving forward even when the most difficult tasks are presented and it seems like impossible to reach your goal. I think her confidence is also admirable and not only her self-confidence, but as well as the faith she has in others, but how she's not completely blind either. If there is a reason to buy this game, besides the story-line, it's because of the principles and wisdom that it offers. The first symbol that she learns in the alethiometer is the Apple which symbolizes Knowledge. This game will grant you this, if you are insightful enough as to acquire it and appreciate its value.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written byDina2140 April 14, 2012
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Adventure will do no harm

it is a great,adventurous movie. It will do fun if your child likes adventure.
What other families should know
Great messages

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