Play-Doh's new toy-to-life app is pointless, but fun

Your initial creation is just the first of dozens of components you can add to the environment. Each world has five character cans (for adding new creatures) and 10 environment cans. The latter let you add whimsical trees or cannons or waterfalls to the background, and these can even interact with your virtual friends. A cannon can blast your pal onto a higher platform, while a bouncy drum on the ground propels him upward. I was impressed not only by how accurately the app scanned my lumps of clay, but also how well it integrated those misshapen, colorful blobs into the background of whatever world I was in.

Those using the Studio set can also use stamps to create balloons, wings, musical notes and potions to make the characters fly, dance and multiply. These differ in style based on the color of Play-Doh you chose. For instance, using different hues for the music note changes the background song to which your creature dances.

For an app that’s designed for kids four and older, Touch is a tad confusing. During a demo, scanning and dragging a musical note over my character made him groove, but I couldn’t recall how to do that during my own playtime. After looking at the in-app tutorial and the included instruction sheet, I still couldn’t figure out how to do so and had to ask a Hasbro rep to clarify. That’s not a luxury most kids have.

Speaking of luxuries, while it’s nice that you don’t have to invest in the Studio set to enjoy the game, there are benefits to getting it. You can use the included character stamps to unlock five more worlds, bringing the total to six. Each world houses 15 more cans so you can add more characters and wacky backgrounds. That’s a lot of combinations with which to explore and personalize the Play-Doh Touch universe.

Discovery and expression are going to have to be enough to maintain your child’s attention to Touch. There’s no real objective to the app, other than encouraging the player to be creative and artistic. No score is kept, nor are there levels to advance. You’ll only need to collect orbs of light to have enough energy to unlock new cans to add more to your world. And while that doesn’t provide a lot of motivation to keep returning to the game, it’s not a bad thing either. What Play-Doh’s Touch provides, just as its modeling compound has done for decades now, is a way for kids — or maybe even adults — to be imaginative for hours on end.

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