NEW YORK (CNS) — Excessive violence and muddled morality tarnish "Far Cry New Dawn" (Ubisoft), the latest spin-off of the "Far Cry" franchise that began in 2004. As a result, only discerning adults with a high tolerance for mayhem should consider purchasing the game.

"New Dawn" takes place 17 years after the conclusion of "Far Cry 5," which saw bombs devastate the entire United States, including the series' setting, fictitious Hope County, Montana. In the wake of nuclear devastation, the residents of the area emerged from their underground bunkers to rebuild their lives in a base called Prosperity.

Simultaneously, a gang called the Highwaymen moved in to claim what resources remained for themselves. Villainous twin sisters Lou (voice of Leslie Miller) and Mickey (voice of Cara Ricketts) have narrowed the world down to two types of people: "problem solvers" and "problem makers." The former are forced to join the Highwaymen while the latter swiftly meet a violent end.

The main character in "New Dawn," and the persona players take on, is the Captain, a security officer and relative newcomer to the region. He was part of a group of people who traveled to Hope County with the intention of helping it recover. But the twins derailed the train in which they were all riding, killing nearly everyone.

Now a stranded survivor, the Captain helps the residents of Prosperity resist the Highwaymen by liberating outposts and rescuing specialists with valuable skills.

Graphic mayhem is characteristic of all "Far Cry" games and "New Dawn," alas, is no exception. The first weapon the Captain crafts is a "saw launcher," the gruesome effects of which can easily be imagined. Other armaments include flamethrowers, hand and machine guns, assault rifles, rocket launchers and bows — many of them decorated with the colorful graffiti found throughout the county.

Unfortunately, the ethical dividing line between the Captain's band of defenders and the Highwaymen fades steadily over the course of the game. Exacting carnage across a wasteland becomes the main priority for both.

The pernicious assumption is that, in acting as the Captain, players are assuming the guise of a hero and so will inevitably occupy the moral high ground. But, while he's not as obviously evil as his opponents, the Captain operates on the profoundly flawed principle that the ends justify the means.

Continuing a theological tradition that originates with St. Paul's Letter to the Romans, St. John Paul II warned against such reasoning in his 1993 encyclical "Veritatis Splendor." "Circumstances or intentions," the pontiff reminded his readers, "can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively' good or defensible as a choice."

"New Dawn" does better with its portrayal of religion than with its delineation of morality. The game continues the story of Joseph Seed (voice of Greg Bryk), the leader of a cult called Eden's Gate. As players familiar with "Far Cry 5" will remember, Seed — known to his followers as "the Father" — believes himself to be a prophet sent by God. Yet he is clearly depraved and his message perverse.

The narrative establishes a clear contrast between Seed and Father Jerome, a Catholic priest who has pledged himself to protect his flock. Father Jerome struggles with a crisis of faith, but ultimately remains a believer and a follower of Christ — albeit one willing to carry a shotgun along with his Bible.

Overall, the story line of "New Dawn" is an intriguing one, especially for anyone who wants to see what becomes of Joseph Seed and the remnants of Eden's Gate. But a surfeit of bloodletting and vulgar talk, as well as misguided ethics make it unsuitable for all but a few grown-ups.

Playable on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

The game contains skewed values, intense gory violence, much coarse language, sexual references and a narcotics theme. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, material whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is M — Mature.