The Academy: The First Riddle

App review by
Paul Semel, Common Sense Media
The Academy: The First Riddle App Poster Image
Puzzle adventure game fails its test with annoying flaws.

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

Ease of Play

The game has some controls that are simple to use, while others are more complicated and don't work well. Some puzzles are tricky.


The game has some semi-scary imagery and themes, but no blood or gore.


While the first installment is free, players have to spend real money to buy the other two, which are $5.99 each or $7.99 for both.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Academy: The First Riddle is a puzzle-based adventure game for iOS and Android devices. While it has some scary imagery, it otherwise has no other questionable content: no blood, no gore, etc. Also, while the first part of three is free, the other two are not, and players will have to shell out $5.99 each, or $7.99 for both, to complete the story. 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?

In THE ACADEMY: THE FIRST RIDDLE, you play as Sam, a first-year student at a prestigious prep school. But what they conveniently left out of the brochure, and your entrance interview, is that something strange is going on at the school, something...unnatural. That's why you have to explore the grounds, talk to your fellow students and teachers, and solve lots of puzzles, to figure out the mystery of The Academy. Players will face more than 200 puzzles and riddles in their exploration of the school, and will interact with various different students, many of whom can help you in your quest to uncover the secrets of the school.

Is it any good?

While this puzzle-driven adventure game seemed promising with an intriguing premise, the flawed controls and unfair puzzles really hold this game back from making the grade. In The Academy: The First Riddle, you play as Sam, a new student at an elite private school. But while this could've been a great opportunity for you to better yourself, you spend much of your scholastic energy solving the mystery of the school, one that may be paranormal in nature. That's why, instead of reading, writing, and 'rithmetic, you spend your time exploring, talking to people, and solving various intellectual puzzles.

As enticing as this all may sound, though, it doesn't always work well. While it's easy to navigate school grounds by tapping, this also has virtual joystick-type controls that are frustratingly awkward. Similarly, while some of the puzzles are clever, and there's a wide variety of these brain teasers, some of the bonus questions are unfair (though they're also easily bypassed). The first one, for instance, has a pencil broken into four pieces, and asks how many pieces of tape it would take to fix. But if you answer 3, which is what you'd need to reassemble the whole pencil, you're wrong; the answer is 1, since you only need the point and eraser parts to work. All of which is why, after playing the free version of The Academy: The First Riddle, many players won't spend the real-world money needed to re-enroll for the second and third parts of this game.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about spending money. While the first part of The Academy: The First Riddle is free, you have to pay for the other two to get the whole story, but why would you pay for something when you can get it for free? Or is the real question: Shouldn't you pay for something to support the people who made it?

  • Though it's not exactly a horror game, The Academy: The First Riddle does have some scary imagery designed to put you on edge, so why do you think people like being scared? 

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPad, Android
  • Price: part 1 is free, parts 2 and 3 are $5.99 each or $7.99 for both
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: July 3, 2020
  • Category: Adventure Games
  • Size: 821.20 MB
  • Publisher: Snapbreak Games
  • Version: 1.0.4
  • Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 13.0 or later; Android 7.0 and up
  • Last updated: October 20, 2020

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