Prune

App review by
Patricia Montic..., Common Sense Media
Prune App Poster Image
Coax trees toward the light in absorbing, artful puzzler.

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A lot or a little?

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

Ease of Play

Though some levels are more intuitive than others, it's super simple to start playing and coaxing your tree toward the sunlight. 

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Prune is a deceptively simple game that requires players to plant and prune a tree to grow around obstacles and reach a goal. There are no instructions: Kids figure out what to do by tapping, swiping, and generally guessing how each gesture affects the growing tree, and each level's skills build on the level that came before.

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What's it about?

PRUNE is a puzzle game that requires players to grow and shape a tree to grow toward the "light" on-screen. To reach the light, users must prune their trees by swiping to lop off certain branches and encourage more branches to grow. Kids explore how this works as the game goes on, and they'll encounter several obstacles as the game progresses. When they've completed a level, the tree's top-most branches flower and a forward arrow appears at the bottom of the screen. There's no losing: You can start over as many times as is necessary.

Is it any good?

Between the serene sounds and minimalist graphics, this unique take on a strategy game is engrossing and beautiful. At first, some gameplay is mystifying, and it can take a few levels for kids to understand how to use each new object (such as a black sun or a red orb). Luckily, there are very limited consequences for failure: Kids can easily cut a tree off at its base and start again. Over time, kids will discover how to use helpful objects and how to avoid harmful ones. Once they get the hang of it, some kids may not want to stop. Overall, this app is an engaging, absorbing game for anyone whose fine motor skills are ready for tiny, controlled swipes and who have the critical-thinking skills to decipher the challenge. However, because it does require patience, subtle movements, and a love of simplicity, it's not for everyone. Kids won't learn anything in particular about nature or conservation, but it's powerful to play through each level and meditate on how tiny gestures can help coax a tree to reach for the sun.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how you figure out the rules and objectives in a game like this, where there are no written directions. How do you get started? What clues do you use to understand what to do next?

  • Talk about how the trees in this game are similar to real-life trees. What kinds of things might be obstacles for real trees? What might the objects in this game (such as the red orbs and the black light sources) represent? 

  • Take a look at how the trees grow in this game, by branching into multiple limbs. Go outside and take a look at how real trees grow. How do they look different from what you see in the game? How are they the same?

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For kids who love exploration and strategy

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