Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Virginia Game Poster Image
Moody mystery that's an intriguing fun ride.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Curiosity rewarded, as is being supportive, sympathetic to people who may have made questionable choices that turn out to be sacrifices for others in their lives. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Amid kidnappers, people who seem to be harming children, cold, heartless bosses; two main characters do what they can to be kind, compassionate within reasonable limits.

Ease of Play

Simple controls; easy to control.


Some sequences where a bird is burned, a crime is shown, but no gore, blood.


You, your partner go to a bar, she takes off her ring, though unclear if she's married. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarette smoking; some drinks are had.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Virginia is a downloadable title best described as a first-person explorer game. Even though you walk around the world in a first-person perspective, there are no guns, no enemies to fight, and no weapons at all. There's also no dialogue, and while there's only one instance where your partner removes a ring from her finger, there's no sexual content. Cigarettes are smoked and drinks are had, but otherwise there's no inappropriate content.

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What's it about?

In VIRGINIA, you play as graduate FBI agent Anne Tarver as she investigates a kidnapping case and, on the sly, her partner Maria Halperin. As both cases unfold, they become linked in surprising and unexpected ways and together add up to a strange conspiracy and mystery. It's hard to get too deep into the story without spoiling it here, but the supernatural, cult rituals, and small-town politics intertwine in unexpected ways. 

Is it any good?

This adventure is an acquired and interesting taste -- more something to experience and process than something you approach to "win." The game gets major points for taking cues from film editing and deploying them in a video game setting. That might sound like something a lot of video games do, but Virginia plays around with a lot of abrupt jump cuts from a first-person perspective. The effect is both jarring and intriguing, as it's played to both ends of the spectrum: When you start off, the game jumps around a lot, but near the end, when the game wants to play up the suspense, you're made to walk along long hallways or staircases that you've never seen before. The result is a masterful provocation of fear, dread, and confusion -- which are three key words to describe the game overall. 

Playing Virginia is both passive and active. It's passive because you watch as scenes -- such as you riding in a taxi or sitting in a coffee shop -- unfold around you while you look around for what or whom you can interact with. You don't actually do much, which may sound boring, but it's instead a runway of seeing where you can gather evidence. It's entirely possible to play through the entire game and be completely blindsided by the shocking reveal in the end, if you weren't meticulous or curious enough to poke around and see what clues you can find in what places. The other critical thing to mention is that Virginia is completely without dialogue. None of the characters speak, but you can still find and read microfiche and articles to piece together what the characters' acting doesn't clarify for you. It's worth a ride and even a second time around. But if you're expecting this to provide months of entertainment like a big and sprawling role-playing game or shooter, you won't get it. This is a quieter, introspective, and quirkier game -- and it shines because of it. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how expectations of a medium are reinforced or built up by marketing, the media, and fan communities. Why is the notion of a video game with no dialogue and weapons considered unusual and rare? Is it really unusual and rare?

  • Would you be able to emotionally and mentally handle a job in internal affairs, where you would routinely investigate and help fire your friends and colleagues at work? Why, or why not?  

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure

Themes & Topics

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