Vandals

App review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Vandals App Poster Image
Express artistic side in stealthy street art strategy game.

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A lot or a little?

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

Ease of Play

Although difficulty ramps up over time, controls are simple, intuitive. Plus, thanks to turn-based nature of gameplay, players have plenty of time to plan moves.

Violence

Players are painting graffiti in public areas, avoiding police, other authority figures, some of which appear armed.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Vandals is a turn-based stealth strategy game available for download on iOS and Android devices. Players are tasked with trying to tag various cities with street art graffiti while avoiding getting caught by authorities. Although the game isn't violent, some of the authority characters do pull out weapons when they detect a player's presence. While it does seem to encourage illegal behavior (vandalism, hence the game's title), it also gives players an opportunity to express themselves artistically when designing and sharing the graphics they paint on the walls. The puzzles get more intricate and complex over the course of each level, though the game's turn-based play and occasional option of multiple solutions give players plenty of opportunities to think through their moves and act accordingly.

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What's it about?

Some people wait a lifetime to leave their mark on the world, but with VANDALS, you just need to wait for your opening. Here, you take on the role (and the spray paint) of a street artist, tagging buildings with your unique guerrilla style, all while avoiding the watchful eye of police and security. It's a global art affair as you take your painting skills on a road trip through the streets of Paris, Tokyo, New York, and more. Distract the guards, sneak through the shadows, and leave your mark for all to see in more than 60 different challenges spread across five different cities. You can also save all your best works to your virtual gallery and share them worldwide via social media. Do you have what it takes to become a new urban art legend?

Is it any good?

This unique stealth strategy game taps into your creative side and your puzzle-solving skills for a unique experience set in the shadows of major city streets. Vandals gives players the opportunity to rebel against authority as street artists making a name for themselves. The game mixes stealth and strategy elements with a board game feel, which work very well together. The turn-based gameplay gives players plenty of time to try to plan their moves, but that doesn't mean it's a cakewalk. Players still need to think a few moves ahead to sneak past the authorities and make their way to that perfect spot to leave their mark. It's a real challenge with a steadily increasing difficulty curve. Still, no matter how challenging things get, it never feels impossible.

Once players finally make their way to the objective, Vandals taps into a player's artistic side. The game opens up a basic painting interface, complete with a variety of colors and three different spray sizes. Players can take as much time as they want using these basic tools to craft all kinds of cool imagery. Admittedly, the available toolkit doesn't lend itself to much in the way of intricate details. It would have been nice to allow for just a few more options, but with a little ingenuity and a lot of creativity, players can put together some amazing works of art. They can also save their best works in their personal art book and share their favorite masterpieces online via social media. While Vandals isn't quite perfect -- there were a couple of minor control glitches that occasionally popped up -- it's still a fun way to experience the street art lifestyle and a great showcase for individual creativity.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about crime in gaming. When video games like Vandals promote illegal activity, can it influence younger players to commit similar behavior? What are some potential consequences of re-enacting similar behavior in the real world?

  • Talk about art and artistic outlets. What is the appeal of graffiti street art to both the artist and the audience? What are some positive (and legal) ways for someone to showcase their artistic talents?

App details

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For kids who love strategy

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