Do you ever just sit and wonder what it would be like to combine an octopus and a bear? Well, it’s called a Pawpoise and it’s strangely adorable.

These nifty cross-breeds of strange animals are achievable in a virtual world in Beasts of Balance, from Sensible Object, a stacking game that uses an app to allow kids to create a world of new creatures while trying to maintain a physical balance of the objects that are stacked. The goal of the game, which can be played alone or with others, is to earn as many points as possible before the stacked objects collapse.

Once the Plint—the piece onto which players will stack all the pieces—is connected to the app, kids can start with the tutorial that takes them through how to start their world. When they choose what they want to stack, players can scan the Glyph—almost like barcode—on the Plinth and the app will register it. Once you have multiple beasts, the bigger beast will start to take energy from the other creatures and this is where the balance within the world, and not just the physical pieces, comes in.

To keep a creature from becoming endangered, players must use the proper element to give it more energy. For example, if the octopus is starting to lose its energy, scan in a water element. The element pieces are either all one element, or mixed with another, so choose wisely so as not to waste an element that isn’t going to be used.

There’s also this neat little pal named Firefly, who can help out your beasts when they’re struggling. If Firefly is hovering around a certain beasts, try adding a fire element to the pile of “artefacts” to help them out.

Other artefacts have stranger powers, many of which either combine two creatures or migrate another to create new beasts. This is how I discovered the Pawpoise, with the legs of a bear and a face of an octopus and its tentacles, and how my octopus migrated to the land to make a Rocktopus. I’m tellin ya, not all octopi have to be in water to look weirdly cute.

There is also the Miracle of Distraction, which will capture all the points that the beasts lose in a turn, but players must perform challenges to keep them. Most of these challenges ask you to do something while still adding to the Plinth. If the challenged is failed, the miracle ends and no points for you, Gretchen Weiners.

And just when you’re getting into it, meticulously adding the right elements to keep your Pawpoise and your Rocktopus happy, you try to add that precious cross artefact again to make another little buddy. But, that’s when it all comes tumbling down. If the pieces fall off, there’s a very limited amount of time to try to rebuild, or else the game is over.

Because of the need to balance, gameplay is not terribly long, allowing for kids to play a few times without feeling like they’ve been on the iPad for too long. The music mixed with the visual effects creates a calming and entrancing state while playing. There are more than a hundred beasts to unlock, and kids can go back to look at all the mystical creatures they’ve created in their new world.

About the author

Kristen Nelson

Kristen Nelson

Kristen Nelson is an assistant editor at Adventure Publishing Group. She does weekly toy reviews for The Toy Insider and contributes to the trade magazines The Toy Book and The Licensing Book. She is an expert in Penn State sports, as well as with numerous cooking techniques. Kristen has been crowned the Queen of Potatoes, but her friends call her Lady Spud. When not yelling at the TV during football or hockey games, she is often binge-watching virtually any cooking show. You can delve into her witty mind and follow her on Twitter @Krypton_87.