Castle Burn

App review by
Paul Semel, Common Sense Media
Castle Burn App Poster Image
Deep, amusing fantasy strategy tosses story for tactics.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

Simple touch controls, but gameplay can be initially complex, especially for newcomers to this genre.

Violence

While players attack characters with a variety of weapons and explosives, the cartoony visuals and long-distance top-down perspective keep this from being bloody.

Sex
Language

Opponent comments are limited to tame preset choices like "Prepare Yourself."

Consumerism

Players can use real-world money to purchase currency for character upgrades and other items. Players can watch ads to get a spin of a roulette wheel, where they can win in-game currency and, yes, other items.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Castle Burn is a strategy game for iOS and Android devices. It doesn't have any mature or inappropriate content, and messages between opponents are limited to such pre-established taunts as "Prepare Yourself." Though characters attack each other with swords, bows, explosives, and other medieval weapons, the game's high top-down perspective makes things too small to be seen as bloody or gory. Even when the viewpoint is pulled close, which you can only do momentarily, the action is still cartoonish. Players can spend real-world money on in-game currency for character upgrades, to play solo matches, or to buy card packs and other items. Players can also watch ads to get another spin on a roulette wheel that gives you in-game currency and other prizes. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

While CASTLE BURN has some lore, and its characters have backstories, there isn't an overarching story to this game. Instead, you engage in a series of skirmishes against opponents both offline and on. These battles -- and, indeed, every aspect of this game -- are steeped in fantasy lore, from the goblins and cat magicians to the use of "mana" (aka magic) as the resource you use to call forth troops or build your command post.

Is it any good?

While this is a fairly typical strategic action game, what makes it stand out is the level of depth and seriousness that will appeal to hard-core fans of this kind of game. In Castle Burn, you have to build medieval structures and send fantasy characters into battles against both fellow players and the computer. With mana as your resource, you have to send archers, goblins, and other standard Dungeons & Dragons-like characters to attack enemy forces and structures in one-on-one battles to the death against other players ... or four rounds if you're playing solo.

But while some characters are cartoony, and this game has less blood than an animated movie, there's depth to the gameplay. In fact, unlike other strategic action games for tablets and phones that go for simpler controls and play, there's some complexity to be found here.That isn't to say that novices will have difficulty playing Castle Burn, but they will need to pay attention when playing the tutorial. And the first couple rounds. And the first solo fight against the computer. It's too bad that the game doesn't have a compelling story driving its single-player battles. But if you're the patient type, and don't care too much why there are cats with magic powers as part of your army, you'll have fun, and maybe a couple chuckles, commanding the forces of Castle Burn.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. How is the violence in Castle Burn affected by the top-down perspective of the camera, which limits its intensity? Would the violence be easier to take if you were fighting against creatures instead of people?

  • How much is too much to spend on a game like this? How do you decide how much to pay so designers will be motivated to make more games like this, versus spending a lot for things you don't need or can earn by playing?

  • Why do you think watching ads is a popular thing in mobile games? Do you ever click to watch an ad but then don't watch it? 

App details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love strategy

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