The Pack - NYSCI
By Christy Matte,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Unique environmental game marred by lack of instructions.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this app.
Kids can work on logic and learn some basic coding principles when building algorithms to help with their tasks. There are also embedded messages about balanced ecosystems and restoring the environment.
Ease of Play
Navigation can be challenging in the 3D space, help is vague, and the overall goal isn't entirely clear.
Parents Need to Know
Where to Download
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The Pack - NYSCI
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What’s It About?
In THE PACK - NYSCI, kids set out on a journey to heal the land. They will need to collect resources that look like different colored fruits and use these to befriend various creatures along the way. The creatures will work for food, and each has a special ability, such as a Digger or a Grabber. As kids befriend more and more creatures, they can use them to create algorithms that help them complete tasks more quickly. For example, a group of creatures might go out to find a specific resource, grab it, and continue looking. Or another group might dig a canal to help spread water. Water is important in The Pack - NYSCI. Nothing can grow where there's no water, and the main character is unable to travel across wide stretches of desert. While the gameplay feels like a sandbox, there's a goal to find all of the resources (seeds and fruit) and creatures, explore the map, and help set another traveler free.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the environment within The Pack - NYSCI and in real life. Why is water important? What happens if there isn't enough water?
Talk about the logic of coding. What's an algorithm? Are there algorithms you use in your daily life? How can algorithms help you in the game?
Families can talk about learning with apps. Do you think this is a good app for learning? Why or why not? What can you learn?
Try planting some flowers, vegetables, or herbs of your own. What do they need to grow?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
- Subjects: Science: ecosystems and the environment
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: hypothesis-testing, logic, spatial reasoning
- Pricing structure: Free
- Release date: May 2, 2019
- Category: Educational Games
- Topics: STEM, Science and Nature
- Publisher: New York Hall of Science
- Version: 1.0.5
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 11.0 or later
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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