Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Beasts of Balance

Beasts of Balance

Fall 2017 Games
Ages: 7 & Up
Manufacturer: Sensible Object
Price: $99.00

Beasts of Balance is a game that challenges children to create balance simultaneously in both a physical world and a virtual world. In the physical world, players pile up irregularly-shaped pieces representing animals, elements that help the animals, and special operations into a tower that grows ever higher and more precarious. Virtually, an associated mobile app records each of the pieces as the players pile them up (recognizing them as players scan them before piling them on the base) and places them into a world that includes space for land, sea, and air creatures. The app assigns point values to each piece as it's added to the base; players have the goal of keeping the physical and virtual worlds point values in balance. As one of our UX designer moms put it: the app-enabled experience and physical-digital interplay is extraordinarily well designed.

On each turn the most powerful animal (if there is one) causes other animals to lose a point each, and animals that diminish to zero points become extinct. Players maintain and improve points by scanning elemental pieces that boost animals in a given area; additional pieces can create powerful imaginary cross-breeds, or help maintain the point values of weaker creatures. Some of the special operations pieces have associated challenges in the app that require the players to complete a task to earn the result. If the physical tower topples (or if players add un-scanned objects to the base), a volcano erupts in the virtual world, and the world comes to an end, unless players can very quickly rebuild the tower.

Beasts of Balance can be played solo by players wanting to plan and construct their own towers and worlds, or collaboratively with up to five players, but it gets very crowded when more than two or three players work together. Because the ordering of the pieces being added to the tower is different each time, the outcomes in the virtual world are also different every time, and players will enjoy seeing a wide range of fantastic beasts added to their menagerie. The game is not inexpensive, but the quality of both the physical game and the associated app is very high and the long-term play value is strong; this is a game that children will return to often.

Emily Crawford   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Share This