A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Summoning inner strength, partnering with a friend to "rescue" each other from a nightmare world.
Positive Role Models
Neither game character has a personality; both are poor role models.
Ease of Play
Simple controls, but puzzles can be confusing, creating frustrating roadblocks without available in-game help.
Violence & Scariness
Characters will die often, shattering like glass. Some hanging/crucifixion scenes, nightmare landscape disturbing.
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Game narration done through scenes. No words or text besides tutorial that instructs player on controls.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Tulpa is a downloadable 2-D puzzler with light platforming elements set in a nightmare world. A "Tulpa" is something like an imaginary friend that's connected with Tibetan Buddhist mysticism as well as the horror genre. Although the controls for the game are simple, Tulpa is a challenging puzzle game that can potentially frustrate and confuse even the most experienced gamer, especially due to its lack of in-game hints. Given the horror imagery associated with the Tulpa concept and the missing hints, we recommend caution when searching for information on the game to avoid disturbing images. Apart from the tutorial that explains the controls, no text is used through the game and story elements are shown through basic cut scenes. But Tulpa does have some disturbing, nightmarish imagery, including hanging and crucifixion scenes, as well as showing the main characters shattering like glass when they die during puzzle sequences.
Is It Any Good?
Tulpa is a 2-D puzzler with light platforming elements that has dark but beautiful graphics. It's full of imaginative, creative levels with minimalist imagery based on various religions, mysticism, and horror tableaux. For example, Ophelia and Oliver move through scenes with monstrous beings depicting ancient gods or animals associated with them in mythology, such as owls. Players will be exposed to some shocking images with these creatures, such as half-formed figures or pictures of crucifixions. Despite the startling sights, Tulpa's design is minimalist -- it has an Asian psychological horror sensibility evoked through the subtle use of color, sound, and imagery rather than graphic and shocking scenes of violence.
Players learn that the floating Oliver is a Tulpa: a being drawn from the imagination of a person, although he seems more like a ghost or spirit. Why he exists, what his connection to Ophelia is, or why they're in the nightmare world appears to be more of a mystery, much like the mechanics and puzzles of the game. But movement through the game isn't very accurate, so it's easy to overstep an obstacle and kill Ophelia (who shatters like glass), but the character reforms with no other consequences than a little time being lost. Some puzzles in Tulpa are simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, most puzzles are confusing and frustrating. Even worse, there aren't any "help" functions to allow you to move forward, so it's easy to get stuck on these illogical brainteasers, which will make players lose interest in the game quickly. Tulpa is a game with interesting visuals, but the gameplay likely will keep all but the most hard-core puzzle fan away from unraveling its mysteries.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.