Toca Mystery House

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Toca Mystery House App Poster Image
Eerie exploration and playful puzzles appeal to older kids.

Parents say

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Free-play exploration, decision-making, prediction, motion, shapes, counting, basic concepts of science experimentation.

Ease of Play

Easy to play, although some kids may find it difficult (especially at first) to navigate around the house and find all the various rooms and play options.

Violence & Scariness

No violence, but some monster figures in the house are mildly creepy, and the game itself has an overarching spooky mood that may feel scary to some kids, especially younger Toca Boca enthusiasts.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Toca Mystery House features a spooky house filled with surprises meant for a slightly older crowd than the popular existing suite of apps. Younger kids will certainly be interested, but the overall feel is a bit spooky, and the activities are more involved than those for little kids. The free-play app encourages kids to explore the house's rooms and floors, going up and down the elevator and stairs and through darkened doorways. Because it's all about exploration and trial and error, some kids will love the process of discovery, and others may get frustrated by the nonlinear process. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

To play TOCA MYSTERY HOUSE, tap the play icon and swipe the screen to view all areas of the room you've entered. Tap an object that interests you: doors, clocks, eyes, windows, anything that catches your eye. Tap the elevator button and tap to walk in, and pull the lever to go down. Tap the door to open. See what surprise (such as a disembodied disco dancer) is there! Tap the door to close and go to another floor. Exit the elevator and explore another room, like the kitchen. By tapping and swiping, you can make potions to feed and change monsters, vacuum messy things inside the refrigerator, go down stairwells, solve puzzles for aliens, and more.

Is it any good?

Familiar free play is aged up in this spooky exploration app. Toca Mystery House continues the free play and fun characters for which Toca Boca is known, but it has a darker vibe than other Toca apps. It may require a few play sessions before many kids will feel like they know their way around this dark, cavernous house. (Hint: There's a map on the wall as you enter the house.) Then they can start digging into the fun "what does this do?" exploratory features that are more science, less spook. Some of the rooms offer a really rich -- and seemingly endless -- set of "puzzles," though there's not always a set logic to them. It's less about figuring things out than poking around and trying things. The alien area (up the disappearing stairs) will be particularly rewarding -- or frustrating -- for kids as they try things, so linear-minded kids looking for concrete solutions may feel stymied. If you encourage kids to slow down, spend time on those features, and not expect clear rules, they're likely to find a much more rewarding play experience.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Toca Mystery House uses darkness, colors, and sounds to create a spooky mood. How do the lighting, music, and little details make you feel a certain way?

  • Encourage your kid to slow down and spend time on the more creative, experiment-based features of Toca Mystery House. What happens when you tap in different places? What about tapping and holding?

  • If this app is too spooky for your kid, check out other Toca apps on our Best Toca Boca apps list.

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