A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Unrest is a downloadable story-driven role-playing game played out mostly through dialogue. Players steer their way through conversations that delve into some extremely thorny issues, including arranged marriage, poverty and starvation, religious faith, and problems arising from cultural differences. The game is set in a mythological version of ancient India, but many problems that arise are familiar to our world and may strike a chord with some players. Violence -- including assassinations and executions -- is described via text but can still be affecting given the emotional attachment players may feel toward certain characters. Foul language is limited to mild, infrequent profanity, including the words "ass" and "bastard."
What's it about?
Set in a fantastical ancient India in which an impoverished human society rubs up against a powerful race of anthropomorphic snakes, UNREST puts players in the shoes of multiple protagonists struggling to balance the welfare of others with their own survival. Experienced almost entirely through lengthy stretches of text dialogue, it's a game of hard choices. As a priest, should you give medicine to those in dire need of it or sell it on the black market to hire military protection for your endangered family? As a 15-year-old girl, should you acquiesce to a marriage arranged by your parents to improve your caste standing or make preparations to abandon your family and follow your dreams? As a princess in hiding after the assassination of your parents, do you put your own well-being first, or do you continue to serve the people the king and queen tried their best to help before being killed? There are no clear answers to these questions. Doing what seems morally right could well get your characters killed, leaving the story to continue without them. Players need to judge the dangers of each situation and envision the consequences of each decision, keeping in mind all the while that their characters won't be any good to anyone if they don't stay alive.
Is it any good?
Unrest isn't your average role-playing game. It's not filled with swashbuckling heroes, enchanting rogues, and a series of black-and-white moral choices. Instead, it dives into some very hard social, diplomatic, and personal questions that force players to put themselves in their characters' shoes and contemplate the outcomes of their decisions, which can result in the deaths of not only non-player characters but also the protagonists. Players may just learn something about themselves in the process.
But the game also is plagued by design and technical problems. Going from one lengthy text conversation to another repeatedly can be mentally draining. It would be nice to have a little more variety in activities. Plus, navigating the world by pointing and clicking is often a chore, since characters frequently get stuck on objects and simply stop moving. There's plenty to admire about this daring, story-driven RPG experience, but it's not quite as accessible or polished as one might have hoped.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about arranged marriage. This custom is still practiced in some cultures, and some people who participate see it as a normal and exciting part of their personal lives. Why do you think some people living in the West have an aversion to it?
Talk about the sort of hard decisions that people living in impoverished societies need to make on a daily basis, such as those in Unrest. Would you steal to feed yourself? Hoard medicine for your family in case they became sick when someone else was suffering right now? Take a job with a company with principles you detest to support your children?
- Platforms: Mac, Windows
- Subjects: Social Studies: citizenship, cultural understanding, power structures
- Skills: Emotional Development: empathy, perspective taking
Responsibility & Ethics: integrity, learning from consequences, respect for others
- Price: $14.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Pyrodactyl
- Release date: July 22, 2014
- Genre: Role Playing
- ESRB rating: NR for No rating
For kids who love interesting stories
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.