Tooth and Tail

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Tooth and Tail Game Poster Image
Creative strategy just squeaks by with simple gameplay.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

War is horrible, affects people in many different ways, though revenge is glorified.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Everybody has their own reason for standing up and fighting for what they believe in, but they all believe death, destruction is justified.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to learn, but there's a learning curve in understanding where, what strategies are.

Violence

Large-scale battles with explosions, fires, soldier deaths. Blood is visible, stains landscape.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some characters between missions hang out at a bar, say "hic" before and after certain lines of dialogue. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tooth and Tail is a downloadable real-time strategy game. Rather than play as the grunt soldiers, you're the leader of a revolution who gives orders to all units. There are a lot of modes and a sizable single-player campaign, though repetition can set in quickly. Even though it's animals engaging in warfare, the violence is both somewhat realistic and somewhat stylized: You don't see creatures die, but you watch them disappear and leave behind bloodstains. Players can go solo or join up with friends in local or online matches. Teamwork is important, with players needing to communicate and collaborate, as the tides will turn quickly in matches. Other than the limited violence and mild references to alcohol, there's no objectionable content.

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What's it about?

In TOOTH AND TAIL, the story quite literally focuses on a tale of eat or be eaten. The animals have taken to the warrens and set the country aflame. The flag-bearers Bellafide, Hopper, the Quartermaster, and Archimedes lead their factions to war in this story of politics and starvation. Whoever wins will feast, and those who are defeated will be dinner. The single-player campaign chronicles how each of their stories intersect; in multiplayer, you can play out any events of the bigger war that you wish.

Is it any good?

This real-time strategy game takes away many of the standard genre mechanics and boils it down to tactical play, but after a while, it becomes stale. Tooth and Tail takes what has historically been a PC-centric genre and strips away old conventions, creating a dynamic where players must improvise and react rather than memorize build orders of units, buildings, and tech trees. It's a game designed to feel like you're waging scrappy war for survival at all costs, and indeed, playing any match of T&T feels like that. You're not allowed to get too cocky or complacent -- since you control your faction's scouting general, you have no means to defend yourself and thus must remain ever watchful on your own hold and the rest of the map. Literally, one moment you can be up and assuming you're winning, but while your back is turned, all your holdings will be scorched by your more patient and cunning enemies. 

But a game designed like this is something of a double-edged blade. Because it has stripped away complex strategy mechanics, there's a degree of simplicity and sameness at play. While the single-player experience is intended to function as a tutorial, there are some aspects (like how to eliminate certain buildings or units for quick gains and strategy pivots) that are left out of grasp until you learn in the hardest way. Even still, once you have the basics down, that's all there is. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as multiplayer games can be quite rousing and there's depth around some turns. The main form of longevity here comes by way of unit load-outs and randomly generated maps, along with how fast matches go. Still, it's hard to shake the feeling that the whole thing is a tad like a bag of potato chips. Once you've gotten into it, the last match is a lot like your first one. You might have learned a lot, but you're still doing the same things again and again. Tooth and Tail is great for an afternoon, but you're likely to get bored if that afternoon extends into the evening. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games like Tooth and Tail. There's a lot of shooting in the game, but is its impact lessened because it's being carried out by and against animals? 

  • There's no shortage of works of fiction and art that replace humans with animals. By removing humans from stories, what does that free us up to notice about potential messages? 

Game details

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