WaterLife: Where Rivers Meet the Sea

Game review by
Mark Raby, Common Sense Media
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Fun game with strong heroine delivers an eco message.

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the ins and outs of estuaries. This game teaches players why estuaries are important for the environment -- including their ability to absorb flood water, provide habitats for wildlife, and create jobs and recreation opportunities -- and why they are being destroyed by human activity. Kids also learn about how they can make a difference, and are taught to recycle everything from paper and plastic, to hazardous materials like old cell phones and electronics. By playing WaterLife: Where Rivers Meet the Sea, kids become aware of the importance of estuaries and how human pollution is threatening this ecosystem.

Positive Messages

This game teaches players to be mindful of the environment, and empowers them to help keep the planet clean. Players receive constant encouragement throughout the game, helping them to realize that even performing a seemingly menial task like cleaning up trash can go a long way to making a difference. The entire game focuses on teaching players about the importance of the underwater ecosystem, and it does that through a story of friendship and positive human spirit.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The central character, Valerie, displays an eagerness to learn, a passion to help, and a sense of strength to do what it is right at all costs. The sea otter she meets, Oscar, is just as kind-hearted. Both come across as very positive role models for players, and the messages about doing what's right and believing that one person can make a difference are messages that can be applied to every aspect of life.

Ease of Play

This game is designed more as a teaching resource than a complicated video game. As such, it is very accessible and players with basic computer skills will be able to complete it with no problem. There are some points where players need to solve puzzles or answer questions, but there is never an opportunity to fail; players simply try again or receive help if they struggle with any of these gameplay sections.

Violence & Scariness

There is one part of the game where players need to destroy a "pollution monster." Players 'attack' the creature by solving a puzzle and using clues to decode a message. The monster simply disappears after the player completes the puzzle, but the game does play out this scene to look similar to a fighting game.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that WaterLife: Where the River Meets the Sea is a free educational online game in which players learn about the ecosystem that exists in estuaries, and what kind of impact human activity has on these vulnerable areas. Players complete a series of puzzles and mini-games (word searches, trivia questions, etc.) as they advance through the story of a girl who teams up with a sea otter to spread the word about litter and pollution.

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What's it about?

In WATERLIFE: WHERE RIVERS MEET THE SEA, players are introduced to Valerie, a young girl whose mom is temporarily bedridden at the hospital. One day, Valerie runs into a sea otter named Oscar who tells her about his home being destroyed by humans. Knowing what it is like to face turbulent times, Valerie agrees to help Oscar save his home and goes on a journey to learn about estuaries and how they are being overrun by pollutants and litter.

Is it any good?

Water Life: Where Rivers Meet the Sea manages to accomplish the difficult task of teaching an arguably stale subject in a dynamic and fun way. The storyline is endearing and motivates players to continue on with the game, and the varied puzzles and mini-games keep every section new and interesting. By the end of this short game, players will have a great deal of understanding for how reckless human activity can damage the environment, and why it is essential to keep the environment intact. It definitely accomplishes the task of proving that learning can be fun, and that this subject is relevant to everyone -- even children.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their own carbon footprint and what they can do to help the environment.

  • Do you think free educational games like this one help you to learn? What did you learn by exploring this game?

Game details

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