Welcome to my first science game review!
In Code Fred Survival Mode you are Fred, who is lost in the wilderness and needs to use different parts of his body in order to survive the night. You can watch the Code Fred: Survival Mode Game Trailer for another look at the game, which was created by the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. The target age group is 13-18 year olds. I was left with some unanswered questions like who is the person with the huge long white beard? How did Fred come to be lost in the forest? Doesn’t the wolf have better things to be chasing than poor Fred?
Visuals: While the game is very simple in its design, the designers have done a great job. The location is based on Yosemite National Park (which I was happy to be able to recognise due to watching many rock climbing videos). According to the Yosemite National Park website wolves don’t live in the park, so that inclusion is a slight mistake.
I quite like the use of geometric patterns that make up a natural landscape, something that has been used in other games as well (Shelter series). The design team Helpful Strangers have produced other works, all which look very visually interesting. You can see some early Code Fred Design Sketches from the project on their website.
The game makers have done a good job at keeping simple icons and making every challenge easily understandable.
Music: Catchy and interesting. Good choices.
Gameplay: The game consists of a series of simple challenges that use different parts of Fred’s body (Heart, liver, lungs etc.). It is a linear storyline with the ultimate aim of helping Fred to survice all night. Code Fred isn’t a game that you can really play many times. I have played it 3 times now and that is probably enough for the moment.
There could probably be a greater explanation of all the various bodily processes. Links to explanations outside of the game might have been nice, but as it is you get a good snapshot of what they do. I was using a laptop with no mouse, and it would have been more fun using a mouse as clicking things is very important, as is coordination. I thought that the game became a bit more about clicking the mouse than using the science in some levels.
It took me 7:10 to save Fred, with a few tries in some of the various challenges. On my first try I kept dying because I didn’t understand what to do. There is only a limited amount of time in which to complete each task, but if you fail you can repeat the task without going back to the start. On further tries I began to understand exactly what the game makers were going for, and found they challenges easier. Some better feedback could have been more useful.
Impact: The topic of Code Fred is inherantly important for players, as it involves things that are happening constantly in their bodies. The use of the physiological processes and the highlighting of the interconnectedness between systems are things that players can learn from the game. While the examples given are simplified, they act as a starting point for learning about these topics.
For a short, fun game for a wide range of players, Code Fred: Survival Mode is one of the few games that deals with the topic of human body processes. If it included more educational content, or links to explanations I would have learnt more, but as a gateway game into the human body, Code Fred is good fun for a few plays. It is a pity that the beautiful graphics aren’t backed up with more educational content.
Cost: 5/5 (free!)
Contribution to science: 0/5
I discovered Code Fred: Survival Mode through the Games for Change website. Games for Change is a non-profit corporation which convenes, highlights, incubates and channels investment into social impact games that aid humanitarian and education efforts.
You can play Code Fred: Survival Mode yourself and see how many times you allow him to die, or how long it takes you! Enjoy!