This new solo or family game from London startup Sensible Object manages to be technologically interesting, dexterously demanding, mentally stretching, addictive and entertaining – quite a list of accomplishments. What is scientifically, even philosophically, fascinating about Beasts of Balance – and what makes it unique – is that it bridges the physical and the virtual realms, so is simultaneously an on-screen computer game and a Jenga-like challenge. It also bridges ages: it will be as much fun for many adults as for the seven-years-upwards children for whom it is nominally designed.
Put simply, Beasts of Balance is a stacking game, in which wireless NFC (near-field communication)-equipped shapes interact with a board that appears on an iOS or Android tablet – the bigger the better – or, at a push, on a phone. It’s far more than just a stack-as-high-as-possible challenge. The game is a portal to a little fantasy world I don’t actually understand (as I’m apparently too old, too dim and too generally averse to games), but I can tell it’s clever and creative.
Beasts of Balance is also exceptional value. It could easily sustain a 50 per cent higher price tag, so credit to the creators for keeping the price down.