Those Who Remain

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Those Who Remain Game Poster Image
Spooky game has disturbing imagery, blood, naked monster.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Themes of religion, anger, fear, regret, forgiveness run through story, which has multiple endings meant to illustrate consequences of decisions we make.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Edward is an adulterer whose cheating ways are causing internal strife. But before he can deal with that, he's forced to make decisions as to whether others ought to be punished or forgiven for their misdeeds, which ultimately affects how we perceive him.

Ease of Play

Controls are simple to learn, but certain sections of the game -- such as figuring out where shadows start so you can avoid straying into them and dying -- are surprisingly unforgiving. Puzzles can be tricky; no hints to help guide players.

Violence

Generally spookier than violent, with disturbing imagery such as paintings of people being tortured, furniture floating upside down, motionless blue-eyed humanoids lurking in shadows. Player's character attempts to avoid these figures, who will instantly kill him -- causing screen to go black -- if he gets too close. A handful of non-player characters die, including a boy sucked into the flames of Hell. Blood smears frequently appear on floors and walls.

Sex

A main antagonist is a topless female monster with large, sagging breasts.

Language

Strong profanity appears in spoken and text dialogue, including "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character is depicted drinking liquor and getting drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Those Who Remain is a horror adventure game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. It's set in dark and spooky locations with disturbing imagery, including creepy shadow people, dead bodies, blood stains, and bizarre hallucinations. The protagonist is morally gray (he admits early on to adultery), and, depending on the decisions players make, plays a role in whether other characters live or die. The story has multiple endings that stem from these decisions, which revolve around anger, fear, and forgiveness. Parents should also be aware that in addition to the spookiness, dark atmosphere, and occasional scenes of blood and violence, players will see a monster with exposed breasts, and the dialogue includes some very strong language.

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What's it about?

Edward is a man in crisis in THOSE WHO REMAIN, a horror adventure set in the nighttime darkness of a rural American town. That darkness harbors shadowy creatures with piercing blue eyes who will kill Edward if he takes one step out of the light. And they aren't his only problem. It's revealed early on that Edward has been cheating on his wife and that this double life is tearing him apart. Should he be forgiven? Before that question can be answered, Edward has to determine the fates of several other people, such as a boy who, addled by the demise of his older brother, begins bullying a girl, resulting in her death. Should he be punished, condemned to a fiery fate in Hell, or forgiven? That's up to you, and your decisions will impact the game's conclusion. But getting to the end requires navigating many of the town's shadowy, mostly deserted buildings, scouring the environment for information and objects needed to solve contextual puzzles, and always staying in the light.

Is it any good?

It's best to be in a forgiving frame of mind while playing this one, and not just because you're presented with plenty of situations where you'll be judging the fate of characters who have done wrong. Those Who Remain is an ambitious attempt to create a thoughtful horror experience that makes players really consider what's right, what's wrong, and if and when people who've made mistakes deserve a chance to redeem themselves. You'll be torn up over the decisions you have to make, mainly because Edward is a deeply flawed protagonist desperate to be forgiven. The notion of using darkness as a deadly, physical manifestation of fear and evil is, if not terribly original, at least compelling, and makes for some interesting puzzles -- especially in moments when you travel through a Twilight Zone-style light door into a mirror dimension where you can move objects and change things that will remain changed in the real world.

Unfortunately, all this ambition clearly outstrips the game's budget. Muddy looking graphics, frequent technical issues, middling writing, and stale voice acting put a damper on things, forcing unavoidable, unfavorable comparisons to horror games made with more time, resources, and quality assurance testing. While it's always nice to see a game that makes exploration and puzzle solving its focus rather than mindless shooting or hacking and slashing, an extra level of care needs to be put into these games' mechanics to make them compelling. Opening endless empty drawers in hopes of finding something useful and trying to edge around corners looking for a light switch without any indication as to how close you're getting to the instantly lethal darkness just isn't much fun -- especially when death means reverting to a distant saved game that forces you to begin exploring the current area from scratch. Those Who Remain is like a new dish created by an inexperienced chef haphazardly combining a variety of his favorite flavors: laudable in aspiration, but unlikely to prove tasty to very many people.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in the media. Is the impact of the violence in Those Who Remain affected by the focus on disturbing moments, creepiness, and bizarre imagery instead of constant blood and gore? Why do things that are out of the ordinary tend to put us on edge? Would the impact be different if the game was more graphic instead of creepy?

  • If you do something bad, how can you convince both yourself and others that you're not a bad person? How can you prove that you understand why what you did was wrong and that you'll try not to do it again?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Themes & Topics

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