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Codemancer

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Codemancer App Poster Image
Challenging magical adventure demands coding logic.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can practice coding logic as they work through the puzzles. 

Ease of Play

Mini tutorials help kids understand new code, but the interface doesn't always respond well (especially when rearranging steps). Help is available, but not always helpful.

Violence & Scariness

Kids will need to "attack" creatures using their magic in order to pass on their journeys.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Codemancer is a story-based coding game for kids. It's based in a magical world and asks kids to choose a "familiar." Tools are introduced slowly through the story so kids can see how they are used, but the available help isn't always useful. In one case, it replaced the user-written "code" with a portion of the correct code, which neither fully solved the problem nor helped explain what was originally incorrect. There's some violence as kids have to defeat foes using an "attack" command during their travels. 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?

CODEMANCER introduces kids to Aurora, a girl with magical powers who is starting her first day at a new magic school when her father is kidnapped. She sets out on a journey to find him, using her magic to battle creatures and help her along the way. Aurora's magic uses coding logic, or a set of step-by-step commands. Kids create snippets of this "code" to aid Aurora. They'll use steps like forward, left, right, and attack. There are also repeat codes that allow kids to repeat a group of other codes. The challenges get more complex over time, but kids can keep trying until they solve each puzzle. If their code is incorrect, they are returned to the beginning to edit their code and try again. Help is available, but it won't necessarily move kids past a difficult stage. 

Is it any good?

An interesting magical twist to typical coding games for kids, but with many of the same pitfalls. Codemancer frames the coding tasks within a magical story that may help draw kids into the experience. The tale isn't particularly strong, but it does at least provide some structure to the puzzles that follow. Much like other coding games, Codemancer doesn't actually teach any code, and there's no space for kids to create something. It's more of a logic game than a true coding experience. This means that it holds onto some of the tedium these games often create. Moving a character through a predetermined set of obstacles using a small set of commands is often slow and cumbersome. Codemancer provides some unique challenges and interesting maps to navigate, but the code gets lengthy and complex. If kids make a mistake partway through, they need to try to isolate what went wrong and then replay the entire thing to test their theory. The editing capabilities for the code are also limited, which makes it easy to actually create additional bugs while trying to fix a simple mistake. This is unfortunate, because if testing and editing were easier to do, it would make the whole experience more fun. There are kids who enjoy this sort of puzzle game, and Codemancer will be an engaging choice for them. Those who are looking to really learn to code may want to start elsewhere. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about facing overwhelming challenges in games like Codemancer. When Aurora's father goes missing, she sets out to find him. What would you do if faced with a large challenge? Who are some people who might help?

  • Talk about coding. Computers require step-by-step instructions to be successful. Can you give step-by-step instructions for a simple activity that a computer might be able to follow?

App details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love coding and STEM

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