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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Autocraft is a downloadable vehicle-building game. It provides players with vehicle parts and lets them use both logic and their imaginations to piece cars, rockets, and other types of craft together however they want to achieve specific objectives. Vehicles can break apart, sending their human occupants sprawling in rag-doll fashion, but it's not suggested that they're seriously injured. There's no blood or depicted injuries, and the drivers respawn with their vehicles. Online interactions are limited to vehicles that players have created, uploaded, and shared in sandbox mode.
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What's it about?
Players get to design, build, and drive their own vehicles in AUTOCRAFT. Combining elements from games such as Minecraft and Bad Piggies, this Mac- and PC-exclusive indie provides players with a collection of vehicle parts and tasks them to build a ride that will let them achieve one or more environmental-traversal objectives. That includes goals such as reaching a finish zone in a set amount of time. Typical parts include metal frame pieces, wheels, and a human rider. More fanciful elements include rockets, light but fragile glass frame pieces, and hot-air balloons. Some parts can be edited, allowing players to change their specifications or the button used to work them. The more building puzzles you solve, the more pieces you unlock for sandbox mode, where you can build anything you like. You then can share your creations with the game's community or download vehicles created by other players.
Is it any good?
Autocraft is pretty rough around the edges. The 3-D presentation is very rudimentary, and the physics system is a bit wonky -- especially during crashes, where pieces often endlessly rattle in place as though they were sitting on a giant vibrating platform. Steering controls can be pretty finicky, too, which takes some of the joy out of your joyrides. Plus, there are noticeable problems with the sandbox mode, where you can download other users' vehicles before you've earned all the parts for them, resulting in gimpy, half-functioning rides.
Get past these problems, though, and you'll find a wonderfully imaginative, fun, and often funny game full of emergent play possibilities. Figuring out how parts work together to build the right sort of vehicle to meet objectives is a blast, and doing it in innovative ways the game's designers may not have considered can be quite satisfying. What's more, the ability to edit the properties of specific pieces will appeal to kids who really enjoy tinkering with and perfecting their digital creations. Autocraft is an easy recommendation, warts and all, for kids who enjoy creative play.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what this game gets right and what it gets wrong in vehicle design. Would you have preferred more intricate relationships and connections among parts, or would that have made the experience needlessly complex?
Discuss online privacy and Internet safety. Do you enjoy sharing your creations with the community and seeing what other people have made? Have you ever run across another user's creation that was in some way inappropriate? What did you do?
- Platforms: Mac, Windows
- Subjects: Science: engineering, momentum, motion, physics
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: hypothesis-testing, problem solving, solving puzzles
Self-Direction: achieving goals, self-assessment
Tech Skills: digital creation
- Price: $9.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Alientrap
- Release date: October 15, 2014
- Genre: Puzzle
- Topics: Cars and Trucks
- ESRB rating: NR
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.