Picky Kid Rating: 3.3
Creativium is a colorful and calm exploratory app based on the concept of a paper theater. If you’re looking for an app to engage in free-form imaginative play, or for a toddler simply to explore by tapping, Creativium is worth looking at. However, it’s likely to disappoint children who expect more structure in their games, especially in its current, partially-finished state.
When you first start the app, be patient! It can take a little while to load… Luckily, you get to look at a cute fox while it’s loading. Soon, soft, dreamy music will start playing, and you’ll come to a title screen. Photos of the fantasy world you’re about to enter float gently under the word “Creativium”. Tap the photos or swipe left to advance to the next screen, which shows a castle swinging from a string. Swipe again to see that there’s another world “Coming Soon”. Swipe back to the castle and tap it to start playing. Be sure to tap it, not swipe it!
After more loading, you’ll arrive at a friendly-looking pastoral scene, where stars and clouds float by a rainbow, flowers meander down a stream, and several animals expectantly gaze at you. Almost every element in the scene is interactive, start tapping to see what happens. Some things can be dragged as well. Scroll the scene left or right to explore and find different animals. On the far right side of the scene, you’ll find a castle. Tap it!
When you tap the castle, you can use it as a stage for the characters and objects found in a panel on the right-hand side of the screen. Drag and drop to put items on the castle. You can drag them around to position them, use a two-finger pinch or pull to make them smaller or larger, and rotate them with two fingers. Lots more objects are available than initially show in the palette… if you tap an object without dragging it, it will be replaced with a new object. There are about different 35 things that can be placed on the castle. And we say “on” the castle that’s pretty much what we mean. You can get characters to stand in front of the castle or on various balconies, but they won’t go inside.
To go back to exploring the surrounding countryside, tap somewhere in the sky or around the edges of the castle. This is not immediately obvious. In fact, the first thing I tried was a pinch motion! The first thing B tried was tapping the camera icon, probably because it’s in the upper left of the screen, where a “back” or home button is often found in other apps.
When you tap the camera icon, the scene will zoom out slightly, and you can take a picture by tapping the camera that appears at the bottom of the screen. You’ll see your picture on the screen after it’s been taken. It will also appear in your photo album. Tap it to return to your game.
From the castle or the landscape scenes, you can tap the night sky icon in the upper right to return to the main menu area. If you’ve taken any pictures, you can now access your photo gallery by tapping the pictures underneath the hanging castle. You can swipe through your pictures to view them, but careful! An errant swipe (or any tap off the photos) will close your gallery.
The game-play in Creativium is not directed at all — which for some kids could be really fun because you can tell your own story with the characters at whatever pace you like… But (for better or for worse) B expects more structure in her games. Several times she asked “What do you do?” and my answer, “Play however you’d like, or make up a story” wasn’t really satisfactory. This app would be more interesting for these type of kids if it included some more structured interactions — for example, if you could feed fruit to the characters after picking it. Or if the people in the castle scene would hold the guitar or sword.
We love the graphics in this game. They are friendly and engaging without being overly cute or too cartoonish. The color palette is rich and varied (and it’s a fantasy world, so trees can be pink!). The animations, especially of the animals, are well done. Everything has a floaty, relaxed sort of feeling that lends itself to exploring in a leisurely way. We like the sound too. In the pastoral scenes, you’ll hear birds and bees, and the scurrying little footsteps of animals as they move about. There are no voiceovers (none are necessary) and there are no options or settings for this app.If you want to turn the sound off, use the iPad volume control.
In terms of content, there are a few things in the castle that could be frightening, like an ogre, a plunderer with raised sword, a fire-breathing dragon, and a pirate with a cutlass. But since you control the play, they don’t make any noise or do anything violent on their own accord. The content is a bit limited though. We’d love to see this game expanded more interactive items and areas to explore! On that note…
Creativium feels like an app half-finished. Not only is the nighttime world Coming Soon, but we can only find five characters in the castle (the description in the app store says there are 35! Including a “pink pony” — but where is it?). [Update: the current version of the app has 20 characters, including the pink pony, hooray!] As the app store screenshots say, “Buy now and wait for free updates” — but the problem with doing that is if this partially-completed version doesn’t capture your child’s attention now, they may not be interested in returning to it when (and if!) the updates are released.
Bottom line? Creativium is a well-designed and calm free-play app that could capture the attention and imagination of 2-5 year olds. But you may want to hold off purchase until the second scene is finished, and more characters are added, which will offer a richer experience.
[The developer of this app requested a Picky Kid review. No fees were paid.]Review: Creativium iPad App,
Played on: iPad2, iOS6
- Innova Co.