A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tumble VR is a downloadable block-based puzzle game played in virtual reality. There's no violence, aside from a handful of puzzles that involve strategic placement of explosive mines to bring down towers or push blocks toward a target. Kids can use their real-world understanding of physics to work out solutions by examining the blocks in front of them and positioning them to achieve certain goals, such as building the highest tower possible. Parents should also be aware that virtual reality equipment makers don't recommend VR experiences for kids under 12 due to the potential impact the technology may have on younger players' physiological development.
What's it about?
In TUMBLE VR, players manipulate blocks, boards, mirrors, and mines in virtual reality. The game begins with a quippy robot that explains how to interact with objects and introduces the sorts of puzzles you'll encounter through a variety of play zones. Then it's up to the player to explore each zone, picking the types of puzzles they want to play. Some require players to pick up blocks of varying shapes and materials and carefully stack them as high as they can. Others involve laying the blocks across pillars to create bridges or arrange as many as they can on platforms under a moving limbo bar. A more explosive type of puzzle forces players to deduce where to place mines to knock over towers of blocks or push a primary block toward a target area. There are also puzzles that involve blocks with mirrors, which must be placed in just the right way to guide a laser beam to a goal area. The robot guide is a companion throughout, providing direction and the occasional joke as the player works through scores of block-based conundrums.
Is it any good?
With only a slightly better interface, this could've been one of the best puzzle games yet made for virtual reality platforms. Sadly, Tumble VR's controls keep it from achieving its full potential. Picking up blocks is intuitive and straightforward; Just point at the block you want to use and press a button to magnetically attract it to the virtual representation of your controller. But manipulating blocks once you have them can be a pain. You're supposed to just flick your wrist to reorient them, but half the time they flip around in a direction you didn't intend. And if you need to make a slight adjustment to, say, a mirror block you've already placed, you're out of luck. Touching a block will usually pull it all the way out of the puzzle and force you back into that annoying wrist-flicking routine to properly reorient it.
The shoddy controls are a shame, since everything else about Tumble VR is lovely. The physics feel spot-on, with objects of different textures behaving exactly as you'd expect. Big pieces of Styrofoam can be easily balanced between heavier wood planks, and smooth boards can rest diagonally against grippy rubber wedges without sliding. This opens up some great opportunities for creative thinking; smart kids are bound to invent all sorts of unexpected strategies to earn gold medals. Even the robot guide is a treat, delivering light jibes to the player in a manner clearly inspired by Portal's iconic GLaDOS. All of these pros mean Tumble VR is still worth a shot for serious puzzle fans. Just expect a bit of mild frustration to be your constant companion.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about learning with technology. Do you think a game like Tumble VR, which tries its best to simulate real-world physics, can help you better understand the properties of objects and how to build with them? Did anything you encountered in the game feel as though it didn't behave the way it should?
Talk about what you want to do when you enter the workforce. Do you enjoy physically manipulating and building things, or do you prefer solving problems in your head, on a computer, or with a notepad? Do you think virtual reality could be used to help people in certain types of jobs?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR
- Subjects: Math: geometry, shapes
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: logic, solving puzzles, strategy
Creativity: developing novel solutions
- Price: $9.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Release date: October 14, 2016
- Genre: Puzzle
- Topics: STEM, Robots
- ESRB rating: E for Violent References
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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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.