(OSV News) — The now-sprawling universe of “Dungeons & Dragons” got off to a modest start in 1974 as a tabletop game. Currently owned by Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast, the franchise continues to flourish and exerts a significant influence on the digital world of the 21st century.
One recent addition to D&D’s multifarious iterations, the turn-based, role-playing fantasy adventure “Baldur’s Gate 3” (Larian), is notable for artistic and technical excellence. Yet it involves an amount of mayhem and sexual content that make it unsuitable for any but a few grown-ups.
Players are initially presented with a variety of characters before choosing one to control. Whichever protagonist they settle on, things don’t start out well since their selected persona is a prisoner of the Illithid Empire, an evil power populated by beings aptly nicknamed Mind Flayers.
Endowed with attributes heavily influenced by novelist H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulian mythos, these tentacled humanoids kidnap the denizens of the titular city and infect them with a parasite that transforms each new victim into a Mind Flayer. After being infected but before mutating, the lead character manages to escape captivity.
It’s then a race against time to prevent the dreaded metamorphosis. There are other evils brewing in the plot and gamers freely decide whether to combat these larger problems or just concentrate on their own plight.
Before the opening cutscene, users are prompted to select their preferences and are thus given the opportunity to tone the game down by disabling nudity and sexual interaction. In its unfiltered form, however, the storyline presents players with opportunities for both heterosexual and same-sex encounters.
Nor is self-censorship an option where this title’s harsh visuals of torture and dismemberment are concerned. Although nonlethal combat is available, such images cannot be entirely avoided.
Mature players willing to take on such material will discover top-tier graphics, a stunning soundtrack and impressive narrative storytelling. Highly regarded actor J.K. Simmons, moreover, leads the roster of quality voice actors lending their skill to the project. The inclusion of fewer seamy elements would have made these assets enjoyable for a much wider audience.
Playable on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series and Windows.
The game contains warfare violence with frequent blood effects, gruesome images, strong sexual content, including potential aberrant behavior and both male and female nudity, occasional rough and crude language and nonscriptural religious concepts. The OSV News classification is L — limited adult audience, material whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M — Mature.
Adele Chapline Smith reviews video games for OSV News.