Parents' Guide to

The Pack - NYSCI

By Christy Matte, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Unique environmental game marred by lack of instructions.

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It's always fun to find a unique, educational game set in a beautiful environment with fun and funky characters like this one, but clearer direction and supports would increase its value. In terms of its appearance, the colors are soothing, and the creatures and environment are certainly quirky. Gameplay itself, however, isn't soothing. Navigating a 3D environment on a touchscreen device can be kind of a pain, and it can be challenging to orient yourself properly, especially if you're standing in a ravine. Highlighting other characters and moving them around is another frustrating experience. There are often times when you'll need to spread water to help things grow, or to be able to traverse a desert patch. While this seems like an easy feat -- to dig a stream or a river -- the water doesn't always continue to flow, and getting it to travel across a hill requires a lot of digging. The idea of using algorithms to simplify things is a pretty cool one, but once again, implementation doesn't always match promise. There are no conditionals, so your creatures who are seeking a particular fruit may just dance around in a spot where there are buried fruits rather than continuing on to grab fruits on the ground. If you add a digging creature, they'll dig every step of the way. It would be great to have an if/then option to specify which creature should act in a given situation. But the most frustrating part of all is the lack of proper help. Your character has thought bubbles that suggest certain behaviors, but it's not always clear what they mean. Also, sometimes you need a resource that you haven't yet discovered. If you haven't discovered it, your creatures can't find it, but the map is fairly large to roam around looking for an unknown fruit. There's so much promise in The Pack - NYSCI. It just needs a little more work to get it to a place where it's consistently fun and not frustrating.

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