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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Parts of the aliens-integrating-with-humans story serves as allegory for real-world tolerance of cultural differences. Themes of justice, sacrifice, and solidarity run through the narrative.
Positive Role Models
The XCOM soldiers are a respectable bunch, legitimately concerned with the welfare of each other, citizens, and the city they're trying to help. They rely mostly on violence to get their work done, but with the sense that it's unavoidable.
Ease of Play
Multiple difficulties and play modifiers provide a wide range of challenge options. But combat and base management systems aren't necessarily intuitive, and may take some players a bit of time to fully understand, even with in-game tutorials switched on.
Violence & Scariness
Players attack humans, aliens, and hybrids using guns, grenades, and psionic abilities. Enemies emit splashes of blood when struck, and their bodies sprawl and ragdoll in painful-looking fashion when killed or knocked unconscious. Action is viewed from a raised perspective, but the camera zooms in for some attacks to show shots and hits in stylized, cinematic fashion.
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Dialogue contains infrequent mild profanity, including the word "ass."
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Products & Purchases
Latest in the popular XCOM franchise.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The word "alcohol" is used once in dialogue.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that XCOM: Chimera Squad is a downloadable turn-based strategy game for Windows PCs. The game itself is focused on near-future sci-fi combat. Players control a squad of noble and compassionate soldiers attempting to keep shadowy forces from causing chaos and tearing apart a city filled with human, alien, and hybrid citizens. Factions within the city are loosely based on cultural identities and ideologies, creating a basic allegory for real-world cultural tensions and tolerance. Action -- involving guns, explosives, and mental abilities -- is viewed from a raised perspective, but the camera zooms in to show particularly brutal kills, depicting blood splashes and sprawled bodies.
Is It Any Good?
This isn't a numbered game in the series and -- as its lower price hints -- it doesn't have the scope or depth of one, either. But that doesn't mean XCOM: Chimera Squad isn't worth a look for fans of turn-based tactics. Its designers used this game-between-games to try out some interesting new ideas for the series, some of which don't work, but many of which do. First, the bad news. You don't get to customize and name recruits (the cast is full of named characters, each with their own backstory and unique abilities/skill trees), and the franchise's renowned permanent death feature has been removed. If a character dies, it's game over. You don't get to continue on without them. If a hero is seriously injured, you need to stabilize them before they bleed out, then have them undergo rehab back at base to recover from any wounds with lasting effects. The breaching feature, meanwhile, is a mixed bag. Bursting into rooms without seeing enemy locations reduces strategy to a degree, but it also keeps the game moving quickly, ensuring you're always in the action rather than spending time moving around empty battlefields.
But what this mini-XCOM really gets right is pacing. Not just within missions -- some of which last just a handful of turns if you're efficient -- but also back at the base. Less important story details play out over broadcasts in the background so that you can devote your attention to other activities as you listen. And while there's a nice range of base tasks to keep you occupied, they are – much like the missions -- snack-sized, and rarely keep you from jumping back into the action before too long. The story also marks a bold shift forward, giving us a closer look at how society has shifted since the alien invasion, drawing parallels between tolerance of aliens/hybrids and our own real-world racial and cultural issues. By the end of this game, veteran players are likely to have a much better understanding of this fictional universe. There's no denying XCOM: Chimera Squad feels like an experiment, and you shouldn't expect to see everything here incorporated into the next series game, but hopefully Firaxis will keep the bits that work.
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.