Windosill

App review by
Patricia Montic..., Common Sense Media
Windosill App Poster Image
Imaginative journey through surreal, richly drawn puzzles.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn problem-solving skills as they figure out what each level's challenge is and how to reach their goals. Though the game doesn't have educational intent, kids can certainly exercise persistence and critical thinking as they play. Each level poses a new problem, and kids will use trial and error, data gathering, and hypothesis testing as they progress. Overcoming frustration as they play also is a good way to learn resilience. Windosill doesn't aim to be educational, but its high engagement, tricky puzzles, and solve-by-trying model definitely includes learning potential.

Ease of Play

Some levels are harder than others, but overall it's easy to get started and move the locomotive forward.

Violence & Scariness

Some kids might find the monsters and surreal images scary or disturbing, but there's no violence.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Windosill is a sandbox-style puzzle game for the iPad from the makers of Metamorphabet and Levers. No words appear on-screen (other than the game's title, briefly), and users have to figure out what they're supposed to do on each level just by tapping, dragging, and exploring. The visual style is a bit dark and foreboding -- think Tim Burton meets Maurice Sendak -- and some kids (and parents) might find the monsters and the more surreal elements (such as disembodied tongues and legs) disturbing. However, the monsters are harmless, and the imaginative visual style likely will be more appealing than distressing. Some levels are pretty challenging, but there are no penalties or time limits. 

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What's it about?

WINDOSILL is a 10-level puzzle game with no instructions; instead, users have to figure out how to unlock each level's door and move the main character (a woodblock-style toy locomotive) on to the next level. Along the way, users will encounter endlessly interactive, imaginative illustrations that users can tap and drag to reveal their capabilities. Once kids get a sense of what the objects or animals on-screen can do, they can work to figure out how to manipulate them to solve the level's puzzle.

A settings menu lets users explore sketches and concept drawings that helped the developers create the app's singular visual style. After completing the game, users can revisit and retry each level. Users also can enable complex gravity, which lets kids tilt the device to move objects on-screen, and turn on a "See-Thru" option that makes on-screen objects translucent and gives users an inside look at the objects' construction.

Is it any good?

Once you start, you won't want to stop playing Windosill. Users quickly catch on to its central goal -- unlock the door and move the locomotive forward -- without any instructions or guidance. Though some users might find the lack of guidance off-putting, overall the result is an immersive experience that's especially accessible to prereaders and an easy fit for speakers of any language. The challenge ramps up nicely on each level, culminating with a challenging Rube Goldberg machine in the app's final stage. It's nice that you can revisit levels one at a time after you've completed them; some levels aren't especially interesting on the second try, but others remain rewarding after repeated play. Features for further exploring the artwork are a nice touch too -- this could be a great starting point for parents to talk about artwork, creativity, and imagination with their kids. In addition to the artwork, the active physics of the game are quite amazing: Each object responds to tapping and dragging in an exceptionally accurate way. Though some challenges are more interesting than others, and the gameplay is relatively short-lived for the price, the great sound, great visuals, and engrossing gameplay make Windosill a worthy one-of-a-kind experience for kids and their parents.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what to do without instructions. How do you figure out what to do on each level? What's it like to explore a game without knowing exactly what you're supposed to do? What kind of clues can you use, and what kinds of assumptions can you make?

  • Play with the complex gravity setting and see how it affects the objects on-screen. Talk about what gravity is and why the gestures you make with the device have the impact they do.

  • Turn on the see-through feature and explore the gallery of early sketches to see how the images on-screen were digitally created. Talk about how you can draw your own mysterious monsters, giant flowers, or fantastic machines. Talk about how the app's developers used their imaginations and technology to turn their ideas into the world you explore.

App details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love exploration and physics games

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