Everyone likes to fancy themselves a closet intellectual; intriguing new puzzler IQ: Identity Quest gives you the chance to prove it once and for all. A globetrotting brainteaser that dares you to “master the power of the human mind” according to its creators, the outing – offering a middling presentation, aimed at a younger audience and more idle amusement that must-play – won’t set the casual gaming world on fire. However, it’s a largely stress-free and more than adequate way to unwind in front of your PC after a long and tiring day, especially if you’re looking for a low-maintenance way to keep the creative juices flowing.
Forget the storyline, a largely unmemorable, Da Vinci Code-esque pastiche of common adventure tropes (e.g. receipt of a mysterious package, a betrayed organization who seeks your help, mysterious devices to unlock, etc.) – the actual challenges it features are way more engaging. Certainly, we do dig the regular appearance of cartoon characters that help guide the tale along and pleasing musical score that accompanies you as you non-linearly explore attractive locales like Tunguska, Giza and Easter Island. But in all honesty, the real meat and potatoes of the saga – play-as-you-go Performance Mode options and underlying serial yarn aside – is simply main diversion Story Mode’s capable selection of mindbenders.
Scenarios are grouped into several categories (Memory, Language, Logic, Observation, Intuition and Harmony), each of which can be tackled in your own preferred order. Among the many activities you’ll engage in: Icon-matching amusements, word-building contests, Simon-style pattern repetition tasks, Minesweeper-like bomb-locating sequences, Sudoku showdowns and light-triggering head-scratchers.
Overall, the selection proves quite varied, but despite the presence of a steady learning curve that introduces new twists from time limits to 3D boards and the inability to mark dangerous areas, it’s hardly what we’d call compelling from a long-term standpoint. What’s more, difficulty levels are squarely aimed at beginners, meaning kids will likely get more from the outing than those who get their kicks wrestling with mathematical equations or completing the local Sunday crosswords.
Other minor setbacks are numerous, including the inability to input some commands with the keyboard and repetitious animations players are routinely forced to watch. But frankly, despite feeling like a random collection of activities kludged together to form a semi well-congealed grab bag of mini-games under one core banner, you won’t mind overly much. Play proves perfectly functional and amusing, there’s little sense of stress involved and all told, the presentation – while not particularly polished – fits the underlying subject matter well. Bearing this in mind, the title comes across as a perfectly innocuous diversion, specifically the kind parents could easily play in the company of younger enthusiasts.
No bones about it – IQ: Identity Quest is a squarely middle-of-the-road outing designed to be as inoffensive and mass market-friendly as they come. And far be it from us to take issue with the approach, which is sure to make the title a viable candidate for any family game night. Still, we’d have liked to see a little more oomph and pizzazz here in terms of overall design and audiovisual impact, not to mention singular game-related curveballs to help spice up the action. As is, you get a perfectly fun, functional little tale that’ll amuse at first, but slowly, over time, begin to leave the old grey matter hungry for something beefier.