A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Ease of Play
A fair amount of written instructions are involved, but the gameplay isn't as overwhelming as it may seem at first.
Violence & Scariness
Kids try to kill monsters and can gradually look more deathly as they lose points, but nothing too gory is shown.
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Products & Purchases
A paid option is available, but the app is generally ad-free.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The dealer appears to be drinking a mug of beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Card Crawl is a downloadable card adventure game for iOS and Android devices. It may require a few attempts to master, but it's a generally fun experience. Users can pay $4.99 to buy the game and unlock more modes, but otherwise they won't see ads or feel significant pressure to spend any money. There are also no limits on playing: They won't run out of lives and be locked out of the game. While monster attacks are technically part of the gameplay, they just involve moving one card on top of another and are generally not scary. Kids may assume the drink that the dealer dramatically swigs from at the start of each game is beer, although its contents are never clarified.
Is It Any Good?
The instructions for this solitaire-like game can take some time to figure out -- or at least to read. But once kids get the hang of playing Card Crawl, they may enjoy trying to survive based on what they're dealt. They need to clear three dungeon cards from the screen before they'll get new ones. That can involve using a weapon card to attack a monster, pulling coins into one of the spaces beside your avatar card, or making other moves. The game essentially involves counting, sometimes choosing the better of two not-great options, and trying to plan ahead. Much of kids' success will depend not only on which cards they use, but also on where they place new ones that are dealt. Dragging a potion card (which revives you when your energy is low) to either side of your avatar card will immediately put it into use. But it's often a better idea to store it in the backpack spot all the way to the right, where it'll be saved for later use when you need it.
The graphics are fairly simple: The dealer's motions are repetitive, and there are a limited number of cards, so kids probably won't see a ton of surprising new ones as they play. The functionality can also be problematic: Kids may need to drag a card more than once to its desired location. It isn't hard to run out of room, with shadowed-out cards you've used filling up available spaces and nowhere to put new ones, or no way to pull one out of the backpack space. Depending on where kids have dragged previous cards, they may have no other choice than to allow a monster card to attack because there are literally no other moves they can make. Patience can be required, particularly in the beginning when it can take a few rounds to figure out some effective strategies. But once kids do, the game's fun factor is significantly higher. Because their experience will literally be based on the luck of the draw, every round is truly different -- which makes Card Crawl's pace feel a lot less sluggish than its name implies.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.