By Adele Chapline Smith | Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — Set in 1897, the horror adventure game “Close to the Sun” (Wired Productions) reimagines history and the real-life feud between two great pioneers of technology: Nikola Tesla (voice of Jannik Archer) and Thomas Edison.
While such a plot might potentially offer kids some indirect lessons about the past, visual and verbal content make this title inappropriate for them.
Gameplay unfolds primarily aboard a ship called the Helios, a floating city of scientists and inventors Tesla designed to expand the limits of innovation and enable him to prove that his theories are better than Edison’s.
Players take on the persona of Rose Archer (voice of Emily Moment) an intrepid journalist. The action kicks off when Rose receives a letter from her sister, Ada (voice of Rachel Marquez), a recent addition to the personnel of the Helios, indicating that something strange is happening on the vessel and that she needs her sibling’s help.
When Rose arrives on the Helios, however, its Art Deco interior appears to be all but abandoned. The quest that follows finds Rose navigating the craft’s labyrinthine corridors in the hope of reaching Ada and rescuing whoever else might still be alive.
The game’s highlights include gorgeous artwork, a spine-tingling atmosphere and a compelling narrative. But the clunky control mechanics leave much to be desired. And, though the story line is intriguing, experienced gamers will note many similarities with the “Bioshock” trilogy, points of resemblance that leave “Close to the Sun” open to the charge of being derivative.
Additionally, Rose’s path is littered with disturbing sights. She discovers various dead bodies, some of them dismembered. She also finds messages written in blood.
Such graphics are probably meant to reinforce the point this cautionary tale seeks to make about the evil and destruction hubris can unleash. But their presence suggests that even many grown gamers may want to look elsewhere for less grisly entertainment.
Playable on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows.
The game contains occasional acts of violence, frequent bloody effects, gruesome images and some rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M — mature.
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Smith reviews video games for Catholic News Service.