Remember when everyone used to think that games were just for kids? It took ages to convince the mainstream media that people of all ages can play them too. Sure, some still offer very child-like experiences, but many are complex, interesting, often violent adventures that should really only be played by adults. Thing is: just because these games aren't made for kids, they still need to acknowledge that human beings aren't born fully grown and ready to murder aliens with an RPG.
In fact, some of the most thoughtful, mature, games often take time to explore what it's like to be a child in a very adult world. They even let you play as these children to give players a glimpse of life from their perspective. The results are often emotionally powerful, sometimes shocking, and occasionally funny. Here are seven examples of adult games where you play as kids.
The Walking Dead: Season 2
In Season 1 of Telltales The Walking Dead, you play as Lee, who feels his sole purpose is to protect Clementine from the many dangers of their zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic world. In Season 2, Clementine comes into her own as the new protagonist. As ever, you have to avoid hordes of zombies, but its often the dark side of humans you have to be most wary of. After all--in the post-apocalypse, its all about survival. Its them or you; doesn't matter how old you are.
With Season 2, Walking Dead shifts the focus to what its like to grow up as a child with no family. Its about learning harsh lessons on your own, whereas the first series was more concerned with shielding Clem from the brutal reality she lives in.
Among The Sleep
There are loads of first-person survival horror games out there, but Among the Sleep is one of the most unique. For one thing, you dont play as a grisly dude with a gun and scarce ammo. Instead, you control an ickle baby, whose only companion is a cuddly teddy bear.
The young protagonist and cutesy setting shouldnt lead you into a false sense of security though. As a baby, everyday household items are huge and terrifying, and a simple chest of drawers becomes a huge mountain to climb. To make matters worse, your comforting mother is nowhere to be found, taking you back to the time you got lost in the supermarket as a child and peed your pants. That happened to everyone, right?
South Park: The Stick Of Truth
In The Stick of Truth, you play as the New Kid (nicknamed Douchebag by Cartman), and must help the boys of South Park, beating up plenty of elves along the way. If you ever moved to a new school as a child, youll know what its like trying to fit in with the cool kids. Other than the main objective, one of your side goals is to make as many new friends as possible.
Nice touch. The smartest aspect of the game, though, is how well it apes the humour of the TV show, which is very much adults only. Theres something shockingly funny about how the show (and game) depicts the kids as mini-adults, often reversing the roles between offspring and parents. It all makes for a PERFECT example of how child protagonists can be more complex and funny than their grown-up counterparts.
This one is easy: in Bastion you play as 'The Kid'. Thats about as on the nose as you can get. Our protagonist never talks. Instead, the story is told through the old narrator, Rucks, who is almost powerless to help the child succeed. The city of Caelondia and its surrounding area is falling apart, and its up to The Kid to put it back together.
He might be young, but hes got the entire weight of the world on his shoulders... well, whats left of it anyway. Despite that, he still finds room for a couple of weapons on his back, and uses them with great skill too.
Much like The Stick of Truth, in Bully you play as the new kid in town. Here it focuses even more on what its like to be a child in a new environment. If you dont want to give your kids bad ideas about how to behave in school, keep this one away from them until theyre a bit older.
When youre not skateboarding in the corridors, or hurling stink bombs at the nerds, you have to attend class. Boring as this might sound, itll actually help you in your endeavours. Chemistry provides you with new weapons, and English will improve your speaking skills to NPCs. If only real school was this interesting. And consequence-free.
In Limbo, we are once again controlling a nameless, mute boy. Hes searching for his missing sister, which is depressing enough in itself. However when you consider the name of the game, the reality is that hes probably dead, and she is too.
In this black and white world, there is little comfort. Only faint glimmers of hope arrive in the form of other people, but they too soon fade away. Limbo does not directly give the player any story cues, but the events weave a dark tale that is much heavier than its child protagonist should have to bear.
The Last Of Us
While the main protagonist in TLOU is Joel, the game focuses on his relationship with Ellie, a young girl who must be smuggled to a rebel group, the Fireflies. In one act, you get to take control of Ellie, as she finds herself in a town filled with cannibals. Suddenly, roles are reversed and she must provide and care for him. The sequence demonstrates how much Ellie has grown up, and how the world has changed her.
Ellies backstory is highlighted further in the Left Behind DLC. Here shes the main playable character, as you explore an abandoned shopping mall stuffed with relics from the pre-infection days. Its a beautiful examination of how people--especially children--adapt to their environment, even if it means growing up too fast. Oh, I made myself a bit sad there...
Not that sort of kid!
Haha--I made a joke about Goat Simulator. Because young goats are called 'kids'. Geddit? Yeah? Damn, you're a tough crowd. Look, this feature turned out a bit darker than I planned, so I wanted to end on a joke. Can you think of any more mature games where you play as young whippersnappers? Let me know in the comments.
Hey, we're not getting any younger. Don't waste your life on the mediocre stuff other sites put out: read more GamesRadar features. Here's one on The Video Game Characters No-One Ever Picks, and another on the Top 7... Games Where The Bad Guys Win.