A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Ease of Play
Solid instructions, which include voice narration, make the gameplay basics very clear.
Violence & Scariness
Fighting is the main activity, and kids use a number of weapons, but the battles aren't bloody.
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Products & Purchases
In-app purchases are offered but not required.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Catalyst Black is a downloadable action game for iOS and Android devices. The game has a notably detailed and easy-to-understand initial tutorial, and players get additional instruction when new elements are introduced. They can buy a number of types of in-app currency and other items in a store, which range from about $1.99 to $99.99, but those purchases aren't mandatory, and they're not heavily promoted. Kids will engage in quite a bit of violence, though, while playing the game. They periodically receive and use high-powered guns -- and shoot them at someone until the person or creature falls down and perishes. Kids can also utilize other attack methods, and their character can be killed, although they'll end up back in the game a few moments later.
Is It Any Good?
This game offers a lot of fast-paced action -- yet also a lot of guns and violence, something parents may not be too enthusiastic about. Compared to a number of other shooting-centric games, though, Catalyst Black has an above-average format. Kids unlock five different modes as they play. In Slayer, for instance, kids are asked to try to kill as many foes as they can without dying. The Hydra game mode offers three ways to win: killing each enemy three times, collecting shards to enable a cannon, or destroying a large Overseer creature. Thanks to an informative tutorial, kids should be able to pick up the gameplay basics quickly. The app also provides brief written descriptions of many of the available fighting abilities and items you can upgrade.
The strategy you can use in battles isn't extremely nuanced -- it primarily involves deciding who to shoot at, with a few different attack options to choose from. Kids will need to use both hands to simultaneously maneuver the left-side directional control and the attack options on the right -- and at times, there can be so much happening at once that they may find that even locating their avatar in battle scenes is difficult. Generally, though, the game modes offer an entertaining experience. The app doesn't immediately throw ads at kids or push kids to buy things, and they can engage in battles, earn rewards, and unlock new modes fairly steadily. The visual elements, too, are commendable. Some, like the fiery shots that emerge from guns, heighten the drama. Others help the gameplay -- such as blue lines that guide kids in the right direction in tutorials, and the red rings that encircle the enemy, making them easy to spot. Violence is an undeniable aspect of Catalyst Black -- a narrator, for instance, gleefully yells out "Double kill!" when you defeat two opponents in a row -- but the deaths aren't gory, and a number of the targets are fictional monsters, which might ease some parents' concerns about the focus on fighting.
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.