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Score: 88%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: ShadeTree Games
Developer: USM
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Puzzle/ Board Games

Graphics & Sound:

Ingenious is an interesting board game that rewards players for even and balanced gameplay. The graphics of this game aren't exceptional, but they don't need to be since all the information you need is clearly displayed.

The board and its six different types of pieces come through nicely. All of the tile types have a distinctive shape and color on them so you won't easily place a piece in the wrong location because you thought the orange hexagon looked too much like the yellow circle. As for any kind of HUD, the only thing you really need is the tiles in your hand and a meter for how many points you and your opponent have for each symbol. Both are displayed simply and effectively.

To be honest, I don't remember much about the game's audio. The music was low key and stayed out of the way while the simple sounds of placing tiles was also non-distracting. I guess in a game of strategy like Ingenious, these are admirable traits to have.


Ingenious is a board game similar to others I'm sure you've played. At first glance, it seems similar to Dominos in that you are trying to match up like tiles. For instance, you want to place a tile with a purple ring next to another purple ring. But the limited types of tiles (only six) and the scoring rules makes this game drastically different.

After placing your piece on the board, the game looks at the tiles next to your new one. It then attempts to draw straight lines from the six sides of your tiles (well, of both tiles on the piece). The longer the line, the more points that particular tile shape/color gets and those new points are added to the existing points for that tile. Basically, each tile type has a different score and you want to lay down pieces to maximize each tile's score.

Now the really tricky part. Unlike most games, the winner isn't determined by the person with the most tiles on the board, or even the tiles with the most points. Instead, it is the player who has the highest number of points for his lowest-ranked tile. This means that you can have five of your tiles maxed out, but not have a single point attributed to the red star and lose the game.

All of this sounds really complex and probably requires a few re-reads just to understand, but when you get into the game and start actually playing, it makes perfect sense and gets to be fun.


Ingenious seemed to have a difficulty setting just right for me. I found that I could win about 70% of the games I played against the A.I. Between the many games I played, I figured out a few different strategies to use against my computer-controlled opponent, but none of them worked all the time. Instead I found myself having to change up my approach a few times, but in the end, getting all of the tile types on the board as quickly as possible and trying to maintain them all at the same level, instead of ramping up each one at a time, seemed to be the most solid approach.

When playing against more than one opponent, things ramped up, but as you would expect, the real challenge comes when playing other humans.

Game Mechanics:

Ingenious is a strategy game. Had it not been for the little detail on how exactly to win (the fact that your score is based off of your lowest-scored symbol), the game wouldn't be very hard.

Instead, since you have to consider building up all of your pieces while trying to keep your opponent from adding points to his lowest-valued symbol, the game gets much more complex.

This might all sound like it belongs in the Gameplay section of the review, but its this core mechanic that really gives Ingenious the twist it needs to be noticed.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP/2000/Vista, 750 MHz CPU, 256 MB RAM, 16 MB Video Card, DirectX 8.0 or Higher, 170 MB Hard Disc Space

Test System:

Alienware Aurora m9700 Laptop, Windows XP Professional, AMD Turion 64 Mobile 2.41 GHz, 2 GB Ram, Duel NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS 256MB Video Cards, DirectX 9.0c

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated