Online, Apr 2020
An upfront warning for this game: clueQuest’s title ‘Print + Cut + Escape’ is accurate in all its parts. Before the Escape and after the Print, there is a great deal of Cut – you need to go through the game’s pages and cut out a great many components to prepare for play. You won’t spend as long cutting as escaping, but you should set aside half an hour at the very least for the preparation.
Both the printing (24 pages, greyscale but with plenty of images) and the cutting are pretty essential to play – it would be very tricky and laborious to play without a printer. Be warned that one specific puzzle might be rendered unsolvable if your printer’s output is faint – if in doubt, check back against the original PDF version.
Stolen IQ is set in clueQuest’s usual world with familiar characters such as Mr. Q (your mouse boss) and Dr. Blacksheep (the dastardly villain). When ready to play, you enter an activation code into an online portal, which also provides a game timer, additional story and context for the puzzles, and the answer verification system.
The game’s three chapters ramp up nicely in both quantity and difficulty of content, going from a reasonably straightforward starting point to more challenging later sections – though still thoroughly accessible. (The one step we struggled with was due to trying to solve it without realising that a couple of the following pages contained information critical to what we were trying to do.)
Despite being a game consisting almost entirely of printed paper components, Stolen IQ comes across as very slick. Moreover, it has a surprisingly physical feel to it – it’s easy to imagine the same puzzles translated into a physical game, with paper scraps replaced by more substantial components. One step in particular was highly satisfying in the way the components came together.
Given the current global lockdown, one important drawback is that the game works much better when all players are in a shared location. It’s entirely possible to play it with remote teammates, and in fact that’s how we did it, with each person printing and cutting their own copy. But a video link makes it cumbersome to pore over the same items and manipulate them into the right solution.
For that reason I’d recommend this game more strongly to those who can play it with others in their household. But it’s an easy game to recommend either way, a satisfying game that’s easy to get to grips with, where the only real weakness is the amount of preparation work needed to cut everything out beforehand.