A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Subtle themes of transformation, cooperation, evolution are woven into game's wordless, allegorical story.
Positive Role Models
Main character -- a child/bird -- doesn't speak, but demonstrates determination and resilience while solving puzzles. The child never uses violence to solve problems, but instead uses mix of teamwork, ingenuity.
Ease of Play
Controls are straightforward, but no instruction's ever given. Players must riddle out where to go, what to do themselves, which could cause some frustration in less patient players.
Violence & Scariness
There's no combat, though some imagery and situations -- involving cages, isolation, and darkness -- are tense, a little scary.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Vane is a downloadable exploration and puzzle game for the PlayStation 4. Players control a determined and resilient character that switches between the form of a bird and a child while exploring desolate ruins. The object of the game is to solve contextual puzzles, some of which involve cooperation and teamwork with groups of computer-controlled birds and children. As the largely allegorical story progresses, players get a sense of transformation -- both in terms of character and environment -- as well as growth and evolution. The controls are simple and intuitive, but players are provided no instructions or guidance, which could prove frustrating. Those with little patience should be ready to look up walkthrough assistance online, or suffer some degree of annoyance. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content in the game.
Is It Any Good?
Those in search of action and answers won't find them in this artsy indie game, but they'll find a haunting atmosphere, beautiful visuals, and a sense that change is, for better or worse, inevitable. Vane is about exploration, discovery, and interpreting the things you find. What does it mean that the bird you control seems to have more agency than those it encounters? Is there significance in the fact that the children appear to be born from gold leaves, and that parts of their bodies retain a golden glow? Who once lived in the urban ruins we explore? Is the change that we create restoring the world to the past, moving it toward the future, or doing something altogether different? What's the end goal for the mysterious few who inhabit this world? Clear answers are few and far between (though you might find some hints in the text describing each of the game's trophies as you unlock them). The joy of playing comes largely from exploring this beautifully odd but not altogether alien world -- elements of which change right before your eyes in an almost painterly fashion -- and trying to make sense of what you see.
But the fun is slightly hampered by some noticeable glitches. The camera sometimes moves behind pieces of the environment, making it difficult to see what's going on. Players can also expect to occasionally fall through and become "trapped" inside objects in the environment. This is likely because of the game's unusual design, which sees important pieces of architecture transform, creating walls and floors where seconds ago there were none. But understanding why this happens won't necessarily make players any more forgiving should they need to restart the game and lose progress due to a glitch. Keeping this in mind, those willing to overlook the occasional technical hiccup will find a highly artistic and even poetic interactive experience in Vane.
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.