By Nigel Walker
One thing must be distinctly understood before I embark on my review of Encleverment Experiment. I am not clever. The recent boom in games designed to stretch the mind to acrobatic levels has left me rather cold, mostly due to their ability to make me feel cranially inadequate. Having said that, the initial impression I had of this game filled me with hope, its cute graphics suggesting that it may be aimed at five year olds, which is fairly close to my operating age.
The game consists of a number of different mini-games that can be accessed in a few different ways. You can play in a ‘Game Show’ mode which pits you against a CPU opponent or your friends, either locally or on Xbox Live. Allegedly, each game tests a different part of your brain, but I somehow doubt that neuroscientists were involved in their development. You can also play in ‘Test’ mode which logs your progress and improvement (if you achieve any), or ‘Marathon’ mode which offers you a go at every mini-game available, as long as you manage to get three correct answers in each round.
The games are actually fairly original in themselves, and are not all mathematically based. Some require pattern recognition, visual acuity and memory tests, but all have to be completed at speed to earn points, which helps to create a frantic nature in the game. In multiplayer this will be the main source of competition as the tests are easy to complete correctly, but not necessarily always in good time.
Once you have amassed enough points or completed certain challenges you can reward yourself with a cute and cuddly looking mascot who accompanies you throughout gameplay. These consist of blue bears, ninja cats, karate-suit-wearing koalas and such. They are completely and utterly pointless. Their only role is to sit under your avatar and dopily wander around, occasionally playing a small part in a few games. Your kid will love them though, but this reveals the game’s main problem.
The graphical style of the game seems to be aimed at children, but I can’t imagine any child below the age of nine or ten being able to play the game with any success. This means that all that lovely cuteness will be wasted on most players, and may descend into irritation for some. To further frustrate you, you are instructed on your journey by an amiable but overly vocal scientist character who I can imagine will send a good portion of you running for your dashboards. He has a Timmy Mallet sense of humour. It aint pretty.
Unless you are a dedicated party game player you will find very little to keep your interest as there are only sixteen games included. You have the option to place them in any order you wish, thus effectively creating your own version of the ‘Game Show’ mode, but this does not alter the fact that there is too little content here. I can imagine this being a hit if you have your friends round for a quick after dinner challenge, but there is no meat to keep you going back after a few tries.
However, if you are a massively intelligent, slightly deafened six year-old with a penchant for collecting beanie babies, knock yourself out.
Encleverment Experiment is out now on Xbox Live Arcade for 800 MSP