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An Earth Story is an E+10 rated game made by PROJECTGAMES.NET. However, despite its E+10 and rather bright and cartoony graphics, this game is probably the darkest and most bittersweet title the company has ever made. Many parent and religious groups were shocked at how dark and disturbing this game could get, so much so that they demanded that the game should be rated T or even M. Neither change was made.
Despite the rather lukewarm reaction from those people, the game was almost universally praised by critics and regular gamers alone. Many praised the story aspects of the game and how it managed to be one of the most Adult titles of the year without resorting on cliches such as gore and curse words. Others praised the gameplay aspect and how it was easy to learn yet difficult to master unlike PROJECTGAMES.NET's earlier titles.
It was also their first game that wasn't a spinoff or sequel.
The game is centered around three main protagonists. Mike, an ex criminal who wants to reform, Jason, an office worker who feels like he's a giant waste of space, and Jennifer, a woman who's convinced she has suppressed memories.
Mike's story is about him growing suspicious of a claimed Superhero named Clint. He eventually finds out Clint's true nature and must stop him before the world is altered for the worst.
Jason's story is about him saving a girl one day from losing her life and eventually falling in love with her. Thing is however, the girl claims that God wanted her life in his hands, something Jason is all too familiar with.
Jennifer's story is about her as a loving wife and caring mother. She has two wonderful children and a great husband. All that will change once she finds a dagger hidden underneath her bed. Once he holds it, memories come back to her, memories she suppressed earlier in her life.
The gameplay is slightly different for each character's story. Mike's story is centered around stealth, the goal in all of his missions is to never get caught and never throw a punch. The game however works with these goals and creates a playable system that would only fail because of the player's incompetency.
For example, most of the moves Mike can do are defense like and can only do damage if not done properly.
Jason's gameplay is more of a platform type. He can wall jump, walk on tightropes, and climb on certain platforms. Some missions require him to side walk on narrow passageways so he won't fall off and die.
Jennifer's gameplay is action oriented, in her dream state she'll often fight projections of her suppressed memories so she'll attack with her fists and any weapon she has. In combat, the player can't just mash buttons win, they have to strategize the enemies and the environment around them in order to win.
One of the main controversies of the game are the many dark themes that are planted throughout the story. Most of them are pretty obvious like how Faith can be more damaging than people think, the constant apathy of modern society, and then idea of your past haunting you no matter how hard you try to ignore it.
However there are also very dark themes hidden within pieces of dialogue, sometimes they're main parts of the game. Clint's plan to create an entire race of supermen while mistreating or killing those who aren't chosen is obvously inspired by Hitler's plan to create a master race and the Holocaust.
There is also a subtle theme of incest with Clint, who some times reminisces his dead mother but heavily hints that their relationship is more than just one of a Mother and her Son.
Another theme is of Blame, Mike's story ends with the public going ballistic over him destroying Clint, to the point of beating him to a pulp. But the way their chants are worded, it's almost as if they secretly knew Clint was up to no good but chose to take it out on Mike because he was easier to deal with, easier to let their out on.
Another example comes from Jennifer, she constantly blames the cult she was in for making her do awful things but fails to realize that she volunteered to be a member in the first place.
The E+10 rating
The game may have dark themes and very intense moments but it also doesn't have many conventions that games with these type of themes normally do. Not one curse is uttered in this game, the violence is often offscreen and the onscreen violence are simple punches or stabs.
The game is essentially bloodless as well. The cartoony graphics and rather bright color scheme also help. Plot elements like Jennifer originally being part of a cult, Clint maybe having a sexual relationship with his mother, and Mike murdering people in the past are never outright said.
The game was almost universally praised for its dark and mature storytelling and easy yet challenging gameplay. Most critics called it the most adult game of the year while others called it a fun game with a great story.
However, it didn't escape criticism either. Many parent groups were outraged with the game getting an E+10 rating yet still containing content that was more suitable for an M-rated game. A parenting site said: "The game tries to hide it's M-rated interior with bright graphics and bloodless violence all for the sake of getting more customers to buy it."
PROJECTGAMES.NET however said: "The game being rated E+10 had nothing to do with young gamers. The reason was because we wanted to prove that you can still make a mature game without gore, violence, etc."
That still didn't stop the parent groups from petitioning to get the game banned or at least a T rating. The petitions stopped once the ESRB stated that the game passed all the requirements it needed to pass for it to be rated E+10 and that it won't be given a higher rating.
Religious groups were also attacking for its sheer amount of anti-religious themes, many pastors claimed it was practically teaching Children to hate God.
This was also refuted with the the company saying: "The isn't attacking religion on a whole. It's only attacking the extreme aspects, the people who are willing to do anything for their God, even kill for their God, even if it means going against all their moral code.
That's the aspect of religion the game criticizes."
Overtime, the game had also started getting criticized by people who thought it was overrated.