Parents’ Guide Dark Souls III (PEGI 16+)

In association with the Games Rating Authority, here’s our parents’ guide to Dark Souls III.

1. Genre

Dark Souls 3 is an action role playing game in which the player explores a fantasy realm and engages in challenging, strategic combat with monstrous enemies.

The game is played from a third person perspective, and mainly involves combat that requires quick reactions and careful play to beat each enemy with light and heavy attacks as well as judiciously evading blows and defending yourself with a shield. Different weapons, armour and items can be used as well as character types and other customisations, allowing for a deep set of options as to how to approach combat.

Dark Souls 3 is a complex, challenging game and its online multiplayer options are similarly unusual, with special in-game items required to summon friends or strangers for co-operative play or player vs player combat, as well as the ability to leave messages in the game world for other players to find.

Dark Souls games are really only directly comparable to themselves, but as well as its two direct predecessors and Demon Souls, Dark Souls 3 comes from the same creator as recent PS4 hit Bloodborne.

2. PEGI Rating
In the UK and Europe, PEGI rates Dark Souls 3 as PEGI 16, suitable for age 16 and over, for moderate violence and sustained depictions of death.

The Games Rating Authority expand on their PEGI details by saying that Dark Souls 3 features the player fighting ‘a host of human-like and fantasy characters’ and that ‘violence mainly consists of characters slashing each other, with swords and other close-combat weaponry, as well as magic.’ While most damage is shown by life bars decreasing, ‘blows are also met with flinches and blood effects from humans, whose dead bodies may remain in the scene and pile up.’

3. Story

Dark Souls 3 is set in the Kingdom of Lothric, a dark fantasy world of restless spirits and atmospheric, fog-laden ruins. The player character is the Ashen One, an undead warrior who has risen to avert an apocalypse by destroying many enemies.

4. Developer

FromSoftware created Demon Souls, Bloodborne and the previous Dark Souls games.

5. Format

Dark Souls 3 is available for PS4, XBox One and PC for around £40 or $60, with more expensive collectors editions available. A PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold account is required for online console play, and two downloadable content packs will be available for purchase later in the year.

6. Duration and Difficulty

Dark Souls 3 has at least 29 hours of gameplay in its main storyline, though as a challenging game this will be very dependent on player ability. Exploring every corner of the game will take over 50 hours, with hardcore souls fanatics digging into the possibilities of the game for even longer.

7. Themes

The Souls series never makes its themes explicit, instead working in imagery and mood. Lothric is a mournful place of shadows and ashes where lumbering knights patrol the depths of long-forgotten ruins, rousing themselves only to lash out at any interloper. In such a relentlessly hostile world life is hard and either short or, potentially more worryingly, never-ending. While it never has much to directly say about itself, this is a game where, if you persevere to explore its secrets, you’ll be left with an unsettling mood and many lingering questions.

8. Why people play:
Dark Souls 3, as with previous installments, is a game that actively fights the player. The story is opaque, combat is a struggle of experimentation and repetition, and even some of the game’s mechanics, like summoning other players, are secrets that need to be found and interpreted. For those willing to commit themselves and feel the satisfaction of tough challenges overcome, this is a game to sink into for many hours. For players with less time and attention to spare, the most memorable violence they encounter with Dark Souls 3 may be throwing a controller at the wall in frustration.

Quick Guide: Uncharted 4 A Thief’s End (PEGI 16+)

Parents’ guide to Uncharted 4 A Thief’s End in collaboration with the Games Rating Authority.

1. Genre

Uncharted 4 is an action adventure where Nathan Drake, a modern day treasure hunter descended from Sir Francis Drake, gets into violent adventures in search of mystical relics.

The main single player game is played from a third person perspective and combines exploration, jumping between platforms, simple puzzle solving and action sequences where Drake fights enemies both hand-to-hand and in hectic gun battles. A separate multiplayer mode features both competitive and co-operative matches in contained arenas, with players using conventional and mystical weapons.

Characterisation and actor performances are a big draw of the game, these weave storytelling both in cut-scenes and during exploration or action. This creates a strong affinity between players and the characters they control.

As a modernised Indiana Jones, Drake draws inevitable comparisons with Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider series, though the heavily cover-based gunplay is closer to the third-person shooting of Gears of War. The tone is more tongue-in-cheek Sunday matinee than serious calamity survival.

2. UK Rating

In the UK and Europe, PEGI rates Uncharted 4 as PEGI 16 for Realistic Looking Violence.

The GRA expand on their PEGI details by describing the violence as frequent, realistic and against human characters. The GRA states that ‘Characters may fight with bladed weapons, guns or just with their hands. They react realistically to violence and injuries and blood can be seen.’ Mild swearing like ‘crap’, ‘shit’ and ‘ass’ can be heard, while online play brings players into contact with others online.

PEGI, ESRB, Games Rating Authority, Common Sense Media, Uncharted, Naughty Dog, Sony,

3. Story

After three previous games in which he found and lost the treasure he’s seeking, Nathan Drake has finally settled down in respectable domesticity. When his long-lost brother Sam comes back into his life Drake is drawn out of retirement and into the search for a long lost pirate hoard.

4. Developer

Naughty Dog have developed all the Uncharted games as well as The Last of Us and the Crash Bandicoot series.

5. Format

Uncharted 4 is a Sony exclusive, available only on PS4, and costs around £40 or $60. A PS Plus account is required for online play.

6. Duration and Difficulty

Uncharted games have main campaigns lasting between eight and eleven hours, dependent on player ability, rising to up to twenty hours to find every secret. Uncharted multiplayer has been extremely popular so could extend the lifespan of the game considerably longer as server’s remain lively.

7. Themes

The Uncharted series’ themes are those of straightforward adventure fiction: the loyalty between good guys, the need to defeat the bad guys, and the struggle between normal life and the call to adventure. While A Thief’s End promises to go to darker places than previous instalment, these themes remain the same, with Drake torn between a peaceful life with his Elena wife and adventure with his potentially nefarious brother and father figure Sully.

As in other action fiction, there’s a tension between the warmth and humanity of the hero characters and the mercilessness of some of the violence: Drake can be quite charming with his quips, but he’s also a white guy who runs around exotic places gunning down hundreds of people, often neither white nor English speakers. Add this to the stabbing, spilling of blood and neck snapping and there’s a danger of the violence eclipsing coherence of both the entertainment and starring characters.

Though it touches on mystical themes with the dangerous artefacts Drake searches for, the series adopts the same agnosticism as the Indiana Jones films it draws from – the artefacts of many different faiths ‘work’, but the story doesn’t take a side. There’s also usually an element of pseudo-science to each macguffin, suggesting that the unusual events might be lost science or unknown natural phenomena rather than magic.

8. Why people play:

The Uncharted games are blockbuster adventure romps with spectacular action scenes, exotic places and strong stories delivered with great dialogue and acting. They’re a lot of fun and high-end entertainment, even if the frequent pauses for cover-based gun battles can sometimes become more of a slog than a joy.

Uncharted 4 offers more of the same, with an extra level of character angst and, as the title hints, a possible end to the series. Like his predecessors Professor Jones and Ms Croft, it’s hard to imagine Drake’s supposedly final adventure being anything of the sort.

Quantum Break – Quick Guide (PEGI 16+)

In collaboration with GRA for PEGI and Consumer Information, here’s our Quick Guide for Quantum Break.

1. Genre
Quantum Break is an action adventure game in which the player takes on the role of Jack Joyce, who gains time manipulating powers after an experiment goes wrong.

The game is played from a third person perspective and is built around shooting while using Jack’s time powers offensively and defensively, slowing down bullets in mid-air, freezing opponents, dashing forward and so forth. The breaking down of time causes hazards which the player has to work around, as well as puzzles which need to be resolved using Jack’s powers. The game has an episodic structure, a strong narrative element and is strictly single player only.

It’s similar to Max Payne and Alan Wake. The time altering mechanic is reminiscent of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.

2. Story
The game is set at Riverport University, where a time travel experiment goes wrong giving Jack and his nemesis, Paul Serene, different time related powers. Jack and Paul are played by X-Men’s Shawn Ashmore and Game of Thrones’ Aidan Gillen respectively, and the story is fleshed out by four twenty minute live action TV episodes, which will stream in between the playable ‘episodes’ of the game. These boast a good supporting cast including The Wire’s Lance Reddick and Lost star Dominic Monaghan as Jack’s brother. The TV episodes can be skipped if you’d rather stick to the action.

3. Developer
Remedy Entertainment are best known for the action games Max Payne and Alan Wake, both of which combine third person shooting with a reality-manipulating special power.

4. Format
Quantum Break is exclusive to XBox One and PC, costing around £40 or $60. Pre-orders via the XBox store will also include a digital download of the XBox 360 versions of Alan Wake and its expansions, which are playable on XBox One.

5. Duration and Difficulty
Quantum Break is likely to last around eleven hours to complete, although inexperienced players and secret hunters could take longer to finish them. Quantum Break’s accompanying TV series is made of four, twenty two minute episodes, so that will add another hour and twenty minutes to the experience.

6. PEGI Rating
In the UK and Europe, PEGI rates Quantum Break 16 for frequent scenes of strong violence and strong language.

Quantum Break includes live action episodes with the game. As these episodes are considered to be integrated with the game’s storyline they are covered by the PEGI rating rather than a separate rating by the BBFC. As such they reflect the same level and nature of violence.

7. GRA Consumer Information
The Games Rating Authority expand on their PEGI details by saying that ‘violence consists of close quarters combat and characters shooting at each other with a variety of firearms’ and that ‘between the live action scenes and computer generated scenes, the violence looks very realistic with blood and injuries depicted in detail.’ The GRA also says that ‘bad language is frequent’ including ‘fuck and its derivatives’.

8. Themes
Quantum Break has been described as a story about destiny, and with trailers showing Jack visiting the grave of his brother the game features a strong theme of grief, with the redemptive possibility that the collapse of time will allow Jack to change history.

The collapse of space-time is a strong thematic hook for a game, introducing a dose of speculative quantum physics into the story as well as creating disturbing, reality warping effects. The result is a shooter that is strongly character driven with some heavy ideas about choice and responsibility at its heart.

The use of Jack’s time powers can create a sense of cold blooded violence as Jack freezes his enemies in time then kills them, the bodies dropping as time resumes. However, the game keeps the playing field fair by outnumbering Jack to keep the player on their toes.

9. Why people play:
With Max Payne’s use of bullet time, and Alan Wake’s juggling of light and dark, Remedy have a long track record of shooting games with an unreal element that leads to clever, complex and cinematic action. Quantum Break pushes this pedigree further, with well-known actors and a built in TV show as well as smart gunplay that requires the player to juggle Jack’s time-twisting power set. Production values for both game and live action are high, and the jump from in-game graphics to live actors isn’t as jarring as it could be.

In a gaming landscape where science fiction usually means blasting aliens in the corridors of a space ship, Quantum Break promises a more thoughtful type of low SF which stays closer to reality both in setting and emotional content, while still delivering fast paced action.

The Division Quick Guide (PEGI 18+)

In collaboration with GRA for PEGI and Consumer Information, here’s our Quick Guide to The Division.

1. Genre
Tom Clancy’s The Division is an online role playing shooting game set in Manhattan after a viral outbreak has caused civil society to collapse. Players have to complete missions, either alone or in groups, to obtain supplies, rescue hostages and so forth to gradually restore order and save the city. Standing in the Division’s way are murderous factions bent on looting, murdering and purging in the chaos of a devastated New York.

The game is played from a third person perspective, and the player character is highly customisable in terms of appearance. Progress is rewarded by gaining experience and levelling up, allowing the player to improve their skills and use better weapons. In-game currency and other forms of loot can also be found on downed enemies and throughout the game.

Objectives will be more easily achieved by teaming up with other online players. Co-operative play is online only and there is no local split-screen option available.

The Division follows other Tom Clancy themed multiplayer shooters like the Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six series, but with its strong online multiplayer component and emphasis on progression and loot it’s probably most comparable to Destiny.

2. Story
A Smallpox outbreak in major American cities has brought down the government and thrown society into chaos. The only hope for New York is The Division, a secret organisation of sleeper agents living everyday lives, waiting to be activated in a major emergency. To save Manhattan the Division will need to take on three factions: the lawless Rioters; former convicts The Rikers and deranged former federal employees The Cleaners.

3. Developer
Lead developer Ubisoft Massive, formerly Massive Entertainment, previously developed the Ground Control and World in Conflict games, and have been assisted on The Division by other Ubisoft studios.

4. Format
Tom Clancy’s The Division is available for PS4, XBox One and PC for around £55 or $60. A season pass covering future downloadable content is also available for £33 or $40. Bundles including both the game and season pass are also available.

Two downloadable costume packs are available at launch, with more downloadable content to follow.

5. Duration and Difficulty
The Division will take a considerable time to complete. This is extended by Ubisoft’s plan to combine free and paid expansions, as well as frequent in-game events, to encourage players to keep updating their characters and going back into Manhattan long-term.

6. PEGI Rating
In the UK and Europe, PEGI rates Tom Clancy’s The Division 18 for Violence Towards Defenceless People and Strong Language.

7. GRA Additional Consumer Information
The Games Rating Authority expand on their PEGI details by saying that Tom Clancy’s The Division is ‘a mix of open world shooter with survival elements in which the violence is predominantly regarded as moderate and there are sustained depictions of death caused through the use of contemporary military weapons (firearms and explosive devices), although there is no dismemberment.’ Although enemies have similar weapons, some also have flamethrowers which cause characters ‘to be set alight and loud screams are heard with the associated thrashing of arms and legs, there is however no visible damage to the flesh and clothing of the character’.
The GRA considers ‘the worst of the violence [to be] during gameplay and cut scenes […] in which characters are tied up and placed in the kneeling position and shot or stabbed [and] there is no opportunity for the character(s) to run away.’ Dialogue includes the word ‘fuck’ and derivatives.

8. Themes
Whereas many games set in post-apocalyptic settings see a lone survivor acting as a free agent, Mad Max style, this being a Tom Clancy title the only people who can be trusted to secure the future are members of a secret, militaristic agency hidden acting as sleeper agents within their own country.

It’s an original premise, although the idea of a secret state as saviour may appear both implausible and distasteful. There’s certainly something disturbing about teched up military running through a crisis stricken city gunning down rioters, regardless how aggressive they’re portrayed.

9. Why people play:
The Division turns one of the most familiar and spectacular cities on Earth into a ravaged hellhole playground in which players can team-up to rescue hostages, kill baddies and level up their characters, and for many people the prospect of a deep online shooter set in such a vivid open world will be enough to get them through the door.

Far Cry Primal Quick Guide – (PEGI 18+)

In collaboration with GRA for PEGI and Consumer Information, here’s our Quick Guide to Far Cry Primal.

1. Genre

Far Cry Primal is an action adventure game set in the Mesolithic period. Played from a first person perspective, the player must explore a large open world while fighting enemies and savage animals. While previous Far Cry games have been first person shooting titles including modern firearms and grenades, Primal provides a unique prehistoric twist on the genre with stone age weaponry like bows and stone hatchets.

As well as exploration and combat the player must craft weapons, build up their tribe and encampment, as well as undergoing shamanic spiritual journeys and training animals to assist them. As with the most recent Assassin’s Creed game, Far Cry Primal is single player only and has no multiplayer component.

A follow up to Far Cry 4, Far Cry Primal shares many features with other Ubisoft open world series like Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs.

2. Story
Far Cry Primal casts the player as Takkar of the Wenja tribe, who has to help his people against two rival tribes while also dealing with threats from wild animals and the harsh environment.

3. Developer
Far Cry Primal’s development is led by Ubisoft’s Montreal studio, responsible for many previous Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed games as well as Watch Dogs. Ubisoft studios in Kiev, Shanghai and Toronto also contributed to the game.

4. Format
Far Cry Primal is available for PS4, XBox One and PC for around £50 in the UK or $60 in the US. More expensive editions featuring downloadable mammoth missions and a collectible box are also available. No season pass has been offered for the game, although the bundled digital content may be made available separately at a later date. With no multiplayer mode a PSN or XBox Live Gold account is not required.

5. Duration and Difficulty
The main campaign of Far Cry Primal may be completed in around 15 hours, although less experienced players may take longer. Completing every side mission and task in the games open world may push playing time up to 25 or 30 hours.

6. PEGI Rating
In the UK and Europe, PEGI rates Far Cry Primal 18, suitable for adults only, due to strong violence..

7. Additional Consumer Information from GRA
The GRA expand on their PEGI details by saying that the player can use a range of weapons, but that ‘bladed weapons and clubs will cause the worst of the violence’ and when used will cause ‘lots of blood effects’. The effects of violence might be obscured by the blood and speed of the action, but once a fight is over inspection of bodies will reveal that ‘heads and limbs can be missing.’ Ritual sacrifice, cannibalistic behaviour, and sexual intercourse can all be seen in the game.

8. Themes
The Far Cry games have always featured a lead character surviving against the odds in a hostile, exotic environment, and taking the player back to the Stone Age, depriving them of any of the technology and weapons available in modern day shooters, certainly raises the stakes. Running on a day/night cycle the game’s open world becomes more dangerous at night, as wild animals hunt and prowl, and the use of fictional but rigorously worked out languages for the three tribes increases the sense of alienation.

The theme of helping your tribe survive and prosper in prehistory, of establishing the very beginning of human society, is a strong hook for a game. Shamanistic religious experiences are an unusual feature for a game, as is the strong bonds Takkar can form with animals, creating a strong sense of wilderness.

9. Why people play
Stripping the Far Cry formula of all the trappings of modernity – and real world extras like multiplayer and season passes – make Far Cry Primal a stripped-down, focussed installment. The prehistoric world is an entrancing one, one not seen often in games. That exotic and, yes, primal backdrop will entice many.

Underneath it all this is an Ubisoft open world game where areas can be opened up by locating and taking down specific key locations, and where mapped areas are filled with side quests and distractions. It’s a common structure that underpins Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed games as well as this series, and may feel overly familiar, even down to geographical similarities to the map of Far Cry 4.

How well you like Far Cry Primal may rest on how often you’ve taken this ride before – and whether you’re minded to do so again.

Yo-Kai Watch – Mission and World Guide

Yo-Kai Watch is monster collecting game similar to Pokemon for the 3DS but only in theme, the games plays in a very different way, and within a very familiar world. We look how this rather simple battle system in which you are almost a spectator can and does actually become a very challenging and busy job of healing, purifying switching yo-Kai in and out of battle and performing their special and soultimate moves!

The world of Yo-Kai watch is huge and you have to spend a lot of time talking to people to find out information that may help you in solving the side quests that are all around you! And there’s a lot of them and they just keep coming!

As yo-Kai perform differently depending oh who they are with and the addition of special books, items and the ability to fuse together Yo-Kai, there is a real ability to create a very personnel and challenging team for you to battle with.

And a fun ability to take photos of your family to catch new you-Kai and use them in your game, this really is a fun and yet very challenging game!

Hope that is all ok! The first set of videos has been sent so I am just sending the next batch