In The Land of Venn, the revered inhabitants are Kabouters, colorful characters who guard pools of liquid known as the Magic Juice. Unfortunately, an evil wizard covets the Magic Juice and tries to steal it by sending in straw-carrying bugs to suck up the juice. The bugs, known as Bookkenriders, look like little monsters. The player is tasked with eliminating the monsters in 30 puzzle levels and does so by drawing geometric shapes. The Land of Venn - Geometric Defense has a bold art style, funky music, and a silly narrator.
How to Play
Kids defeat the monsters by drawing lines between them to form geometric shapes. Players are slowly introduced to their weapons --new, more powerful shapes-- as the monsters get progressively more difficult to eliminate. You win a level if you eliminate all of the monsters before they suck all of the juice out of the pool.
At first, players discover the power of a point (a dot). If they touch a monster with a point, it disappears. Next they realize that if they connect two monsters with a line, they both dissolve. Over the 30 levels, kids will wield the power of 13 shapes: point, line, open shape, triangle, isosceles triangle, equilateral triangle, right triangle, quadrilateral, trapezoid, parallelogram, rectangle, rhombus, and square.
The monsters enter each level from all different directions, and are sneaky about how they plan to put their straws into the juice. At times, you need to wait for them to form the geometric shape that has the most power; then you quickly connect the monsters to eliminate them from the level. Some monsters won't die after your first drawing, so you will need to recombine them into a new geometric shape.
When you remove a monster, you earn coins to buy special monster-eliminating power-ups called spells. One sends a powerful wind sweep across the surface. Another brings in more magic juice, delivered via a fire truck. You can only carry four potions at a time.
Brilliant Blend of Gaming and Education
The basic concept of The Land of Venn - Geometric Defense, that of finding geometric shapes among the throngs of baddies on the screen, is brilliant. It allows the game to introduce each new shape as a weapon; and it does so with hands-on tutorials where kids practice drawing the shapes around monsters. Then, when kids draw the shapes in the game and thus neutralize the baddies (they disappear in a cartoony response that leaves gold coins), players feel powerful. This means that learning math makes them powerful! The game builds in ways to reinforce the learning by placing the definitions of the shapes below the trophies won, having a silly voice announce the shape drawn, and giving kids a quiz before a gate to the next area of puzzles opens.
Tight Game Design
The Land of Venn
also succeeds well as a game, because it is designed so that kids periodically fail. After failing, kids must reevaluate. They will modify what they do, based on what they tried before. This kind of trial-and-error strategizing is key to getting kids vested in what they learn. The game also watches how kids play and automatically adjusts if needed.
This game has the same lure as Plants vs Zombies
, one of our favorite tower defense games. In both games you are defending your territory while taking on amusing opponents who get wilier the longer you play. And in both games, your weapons increase in power to match your more challenging opponents. As in Plants vs Zombies
, players will feel the same "bring it on" attitude at the beginning of each level. There is also the same frenetic quality of having to make split-second decisions. Plus failing is never disheartening; it simply brings out your resilient confidence that you can get them next time.
We also appreciate the ability to use coins (earned in the game) to buy limited power-ups. Giving kids this separate arsenal to use when in a desperate situation also helps keep the balance between the good and evil, which is necessary for this kind of game to succeed.
The Land of Venn is a great game for all kids in the targeted age range of 6-10, regardless of their predilection for math. Since the levels do get more challenging when taking on the stronger baddies, it might be a little hard for kids in 1st and 2nd grade to get all the way through. The sweet spot appears to be kids in 3rd and 4th (and beyond!).
This The Land of Venn - Geometric Defense app review was written by Jinny Gudmundsen.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.