Parents love to fret about screen time these days, but it’s not all Netflix and YouTube. There are some excellent, wholesome educational apps for smartphones and tablets if you know where to look. Take Thinkrolls.

Initially released in 2014, Thinkrolls is a fun, polished physics-puzzle game that teaches logic and fine motor skills by chucking a cast of distinctive characters into a series of maze-like levels.

Thinkrolls made a splash upon release, earning a place in USA Today’s 10 Top Kids Apps, among other plaudits. It was followed by Thinkrolls 2 and Thinkrolls: Kings & Queens, and the series has amassed an impressive collection of awards from app stores, websites, and magazines. Thinkrolls 2 won the 2016 Google Play Award for “Best Families App” for example.

The latest entry is Thinkrolls Space, and it looks like the best yet. The aim, as ever, is to steer a cast of characters towards a goal – in this case a UFO that beams you up and zips you off to the next stage.

There are over 200 stages in all, set across seven distinct planets where you’ll meet goo monsters, soprano aliens, robots, cheese monsters, and more.

Learning through play

Each character type has a specific role to play. For instance, goo monsters guard passages. The only way to get past a goo monster is to feed it a cake. Soprano aliens concertina up and down, handily functioning as elevators, while cheese monsters gobble up cheese and clear pathways for you to escape through.

There’s a lot of different scenery to traverse, too. Vanishing rainbow bridges disappear as you cross them, plasma fields need to be turned off – often with unpredictable results – and anti-gravity zones upend the whole “what goes up must come down” thing.

Along the way your child will unlock 24 alien Thinkrolls by gathering up hearts and stars. More importantly, they’ll learn logic, problem solving, memory, strategic thinking, and perseverance – all while having a good time.

Not bad for $3.99. Check out Thinkrolls Space on the App Store now.