The Next Big Thing

Game review by
Erin Bell, Common Sense Media
The Next Big Thing Game Poster Image
Whimsical and creative adventure with mild adult themes.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

This adventure game boasts a highly creative and whimsical plot with some mild adult content.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Both heroes of the game, Liz and Dan, are flawed but also display many positive characteristics like resourcefulness, determination, smarts, and creativity.

Ease of Play

Players can use hints to reveal clues about what to do next, but hints don't give the answers away outright or allow any of the puzzles to be skipped. Players can also reveal all hotspots in a given area instead of pixel-hunting. There are three levels of difficulty.

Violence

Some mild violence. Dan uses a baseball bat to knock someone unconscious off-screen, and Liz fires a tranquilizer gun.

Sex

Characters of both sexes wear revealing costumes. Mild sexual innuendo throughout, such as comments about a woman's "front end," and a recipe that contains "testicles from an evil duck." A robot scans Liz's body for measurements including bust and hip size. Dan becomes a sex slave to a female mummy and is seen in a passionate embrace with her.

Language

Occasional references to "Hell" as a place, but not as a curse word.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters are shown drinking and smoking pipes and cigarettes. Dan carries a hip flask of alcohol and sips from it. A robot is shown drunk and staggering around.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Next Big Thing is a point-and-click adventure game with some mild sexual innuendo and alcohol and smoking references that make it best-suited for kids aged 13 and older. Players alternate between two main characters who are both flawed (Liz is loopy and forgetful and Dan is a slacker sports reporter who swigs from a hip flask), but likeable nonetheless.

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What's it about?

THE NEXT BIG THING takes place in a world where monsters are real and make a legitimate living by acting in horror movies. Many monster actors are uncomfortable when a major movie mogul decides to shift his business from horror to family entertainment, and this leads to a strange series of events that must be investigated by the two main characters of the story: Liz Allaire, a loopy but dogged investigative journalist and her reluctant partner, sports reporter Dan Murray.

Is it any good?

The Next Big Thing is a unique adventure game with top notch production values (including crisp HD graphics and a stellar soundtrack), interesting characters, and dialog that is decidedly oddball. The game can be so off the wall at times, in fact, that it can be hard to intuit what to do next because the usual adventure game tropes don't necessarily apply.

Thankfully, the game comes to your rescue by offering a hint system that nudges you in the right direction without completely giving the answers away. While some players might be frustrated by the game's challenging -- and unskippable -- puzzles, The Next Big Thing is a polished and fun romp that should have no trouble appealing to fans of adventure games and entertaining stories.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it would be like if monsters really did exist in real-life as the game depicts. What other jobs might monsters be good at besides acting in horror movies?

  • Families can also talk about the use of hints in adventure games. Do you prefer to use hints to solve puzzles or would you rather take the time to figure the puzzles out all by yourself? At what point does a game become too easy if hints are used?

Game details

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Price: $39.95
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Focus Home Interactive
  • Release date: April 21, 2011
  • Genre: Adventure
  • ESRB rating: E10+ for Alcohol and Tobacco References, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Violence

For kids who love adventure

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