A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is predominantly an online experience. Players hunt each other in a multiplayer environment and attempt to murder each other through various brutal, creative means. Parents should also know that the game is currently only available as a download via Valve's Steam service, requiring the installation of the Steam tool on the family's computer. Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for anyone younger than 12.
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What's it about?
THE SHIP players control a genteel passenger aboard one of Mr. X's luxury cruise liners. But this is no vacation on the high seas: Some passengers have been recruited to play a deadly game of hide-and-seek for Mr. X's viewing pleasure. At the beginning of each round, players are assigned someone on the ship to hunt and kill. The goal is to search the ballrooms, hallways, stairwells, and decks and slay your target.
Someone has also been assigned to hunt you, making close contact with other passengers risky. And with personal needs to attend to -- passengers get hungry, need sleep, require a bathroom break, etc. -- players often find themselves in a vulnerable situation. Weapons found throughout the ship -- chef's knives, poison, a Tommy gun, and a samurai sword, to name a few -- are used to dispatch victims. But look out for video cameras, guards, and witnesses -- brandishing a weapon in their presence can incur a hefty fine and require players to spend time in the brig.
Is it any good?
It's really too bad that the game's marred by glitchy gameplay, because the premise holds great promise. The critical roles played by strategy and discretion make The Ship much more interesting than your average FPS. And the game's reliance on online multiplayer action (don't bother with the offline version -- the computer-directed opponents are dumb enough to take a nap in a sauna) increases the unpredictability of the game, as well as a player's need for creative thinking.
While the subject matter is murder, the violence is pretty tame by contemporary standards. No blood is spilled, and combat is clumsy and vague. Like the classic board game Clue, the thrill is in the hunt, not the kill, making The Ship a mannered departure from its mayhem-driven cousins. But glitches like floating opponents, slow frame rate, and crashes all too frequently disrupt the flow of the experience.
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