Nok Syllables is a cute new reading app that teaches kids reading by breaking down words into syllables. The game features two little green aliens in a factory. They take green goo and turn it into other items. How much green goo is used is where you come in. There are four different activities, each of which has three levels of difficulty. The activities include identifying the number of syllables in a word and, conversely, identifying which word has a given number of syllables. The other activities are completing words by using the correct syllable, and creating an entire word with a hint as to how many syllables it has.

You complete these activities by filling the appropriate number of vats of green goo. That goo drops into a bowl and then turns into whatever the word described. If you use too much or too little goo the aliens will shake their heads and move on to the next word. Once you’ve successfully completed 10 of the activities in all difficulties you’ll earn a star.

While Nok Syllables is cute, it feels like there’s too much education and not enough fun. The way the words are broken down effectively teaches syllables from a variety of perspectives, which helps kids better understand the concept. However, filling the vats is the only gameplay mechanic, and it gets boring pretty quickly. Getting a star doesn’t feel like a great reward for going through all the words.

The game also has a life system and game-over element that’s odd in an app for kids. If you make a mistake you lose a life. If you lose all of your lives, you get tossed back to the menu to start over, meaning any progress you made toward the star will be lost. Being punished for something that’s not that engaging in the first place will likely make the kids set this one aside for an app that’s more fun.

I genuinely wanted to like Nok Syllables because it’s cute, and syllables specifically aren’t covered in a lot of reading apps. But in the end filling the vats felt like working in a real factory where you do exactly the same thing every day.

This article was written by

Nicole has been playing games her entire life. Now that she's a mom, she's passionate about promoting games as a healthy pastime to other parents around the globe. She has been an editor at IGN, where she launched and hosted the Girlfight podcast. In her spare time (which is not very much, honestly) she enjoys gaming, reading, and writing fiction. Most of the time she’s a mom to a crazy, intelligent, and exhausting little girl.