InCell VR (Cardboard)

App review by
Patricia Montic..., Common Sense Media
InCell VR (Cardboard) App Poster Image
Fun racer has dazzling visuals, limited learning potential.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

While kids might learn the names of some key organelles within the cell, there's not much baked in to help kids learn about how viruses work or how cells function. Still, the great visuals and fun gameplay may inspire kids to learn more.

Ease of Play

It's great that you can control your movements with or without a VR viewer. There's quite a bit of reading to figure out what to do, but gameplay is pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that InCell VR (Cardboard) is a virtual reality (VR) game that takes kids on a roller coaster ride into the cells of the human body. It’s mostly a racing game where you tilt your head or your device to earn points and avoid obstacles. While kids might learn the names of key parts of the cell, the stunning visuals and engaging gameplay are the main attractions, and any science content is secondary. Read the developer’s privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

It's the year 2134 in INCELL VR (CARDBOARD), and humans and robots have worked together to develop technology to shrink down to size to battle viruses that attack human cells. Your goal is to travel to the center of the cell -- the nucleus -- as fast as you can while pursued by the dreaded virus. To play the game, you race forward on a long path toward the center of the cell, dodging obstacles and collecting points along the way. The more you play, the more complex the game gets. You can race more effectively by choosing different organelles: Mitochondria produce energy for the cell and help you travel faster, while vesicles transport useful material and let you gather more bonus points along the way.

Is it any good?

Kids won't learn much cell biology here, but the virtual world is gorgeous. In between races, it's worth taking the time to look up, down, and around at the brightly colored world inside the cell. It's also nice that InCell VR (Cardboard) works just as well with a VR viewer as with a device on its own. While the gameplay is fun, it can get a little repetitive. You can choose to add upgrades that make you faster or let you earn more points, but ultimately you're always just tilting and leaning to hurtle forward on a roller coaster through the cell. Also, though the organelles' abilities in the app mirror their real-life functions in the cell, there's no built-in explanation to help kids learn that information, so it's possible that kids will miss the science. Overall, this is an engrossing, speedy racing game for VR, and it's a good start for helping engage kids' imaginations about science and technology.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about virtual reality. What are the coolest things about it? Are there drawbacks? What are they? What might be some really helpful uses of virtual reality? Do you like using InCell VR (Cardboard) in VR or not? Why?

  • Talk about screen time. InCell races last only a few minutes, and it can be easy to keep saying to yourself "just one more race," but what’s a good strategy to ensure you stop playing to find balance with other activities?

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