By Adele Chapline Smith | Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — “ARK: Survival Evolved” (Studio Wildcard) is set, like many other games, in a post-apocalyptic future.
More unusually, it happily mashes up all the potential benefits of advanced technology with the obviously anachronistic, but fun, presence of dinosaurs.
This open-world title also includes some visual and spoken elements, however, that make it inappropriate for the little kids who tend to be those ancient creatures’ most ardent fans.
The primary focus here is not on the narrative’s backstory. The need to preserve life — and humanity — away from a dying planet Earth merely serves to explain the development of the titular type of vessel. Inspired by Noah’s craft, they are space stations containing self-sustaining environments.
Each of 10 maps represents a different ark and each contains a unique biome but also predatory dinos. Landscapes vary from snowy plains to volcanic mountains.
Players begin with nothing except a minimum of clothes and must harvest resources and craft tools. Their success as survivors amid their new surroundings is measured by meters showing current levels of health, stamina, oxygen, food and water. Distastefully, the game’s realism extends to the portrayal of the other end of the digestive process.
One of the more exciting features consists in gamers’ ability not only to fight and trap dinosaurs but to tame them as well. They can be ridden into battle or used to exploit raw materials more effectively. Combat against them can result in some gory sights, but these are relatively restrained and never seem gratuitous.
Single-player mode is available for those interested in a solo adventure. But gamers also can take on either the environment or opponents — and whole tribes can compete for supremacy on the map.
Other options include vying with friends in a password-protected group or taking on random strangers. As ever, the latter possibility risks exposing impressionable players to unwelcome behavior. Taken together with the considerable scatological material within the game, that makes “ARK” safest for grown-ups, though probably acceptable for older adolescents.
Playable on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox One X/S, Google Stadia and Windows.
The game contains mostly stylized combat with mild blood effects, frequent crude humor and revealing clothing. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is T — teen.
Smith reviews video games for Catholic News Service.