Common Sense Review
Updated September 2014

The Lost Function

Pricey attempt to meld role-play and math feels unfinished
Common Sense Rating 1
Teacher Rating
Not Yet Rated
  • The story begins when the player's friend disappears.
  • Townspeople have forgotten how to do math.
  • Characters ask the player to solve problems.
  • Students get drilled on a series of Algebra topics
It combines several modes of learning (such as reading and video).
The game is priced way too high for what's offered. There are basic playability problems that will frustrate.
Bottom Line
It could be useful for students trying to find a more fun way to go over previously learned material, but the clunkiness and price make several other tools more appealing.
Paul Donovan
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 1
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 1

It plays like an unfinished game. The graphics are unpolished, it's clunky and runs slowly, and the math games aren't integrated well with the story. Students expect more from a game than what this delivers.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 2

It's not designed to help students learn new content, only to practice and review what they've already learned. Students can access information through videos or a more traditional text-based approach.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 2

There's no progress tracking, and each student must have a separate copy of the game. Instruction on concepts is delivered outside of play rather than contextualized. 

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How Can Teachers Use It?

There is a teacher login, but it only seems to work if a school buys a classroom set of licenses, so a single teacher or parent will not have access to the teacher dashboard to follow the progress of their student. However, for teachers with students who work well by themselves and want to review material at their own pace, or for a small group that wants to work together, this game could have some value as a tool to review or brush up on previously learned algebraic skills.

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What's It Like?

The basic premise is attractive to gamers, especially those who like role-playing games. The story follows a boy named Pi who mysteriously loses his friend in a cave. When he escapes the cave, he finds a little town where all the citizens have forgotten to do math. Pi goes on quests to help the townsfolk with their math problems, and gets clues to the fate of his friend along the way. Some of the math problems are in a "traditional quiz" format, and some are posed to the player through the story itself. The missions are quick enough that it makes you want to do another one.

Like many games of this type, however, the story is not integrated well with the math topics. The skills are tested in a traditional manner, and if students want to relearn the material, they have the choice of reading a textbook or watching a recorded whiteboard lecture. All of this could be forgiven if it worked, but it doesn't. It freezes often, basic movement seems to work on and off, and the design is showing its age severely. Most students expect something more sophisticated and user-friendly than what this game offers.

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Is It Good For Learning?

The math drills themselves are effective. The concepts match with what algebra students should know. However, it's assumed students know the material, and it's up to them and the teacher to use resources if help is needed. It's not recommended for students learning the concepts for the first time; if they've never seen some of the topics, they're likely going to turn to Google to find other ways to learn the material. Given The Lost Function's technical issues and price point, it would be an easier sell if material were better scaffolded rather than leaning on prior knowledge or outside resources.

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See how teachers are using The Lost Function