Everyday Genius: SquareLogic

For what feels like decades now, people have rolled out of bed to retrieve their newspaper and start putting numbers into boxes so that there were no repeats in any row, column, or square. Sudoku has become as common in the morning paper as typos in my local sports page (yeah, it's that bad), with a few rare variations floating around. But what if you could have the benefit of solving a sudoku variant puzzle everyday... for the next fifty-five years? Everyday Genius: SquareLogic aims to bring that experience to you, with thousands of sudoku-like puzzles that incorporate the extra twist of mathematics.

You might already be familiar with Everyday Genius: SquareLogic's puzzle format, known in some places as "Kendoku". You're given a square grid (of varying sizes) and have to fill in the grid so that each row and column has one of every number from 1 to x. However, instead of having to solve the puzzle by observing pre-placed numbers, you've got to use the mathematical operation given in each individual cage. If it's a plus sign, all of the numbers will add up to the target given. If it's a minus, their difference will match the target. The same applies for multiplication and division. Plus, there are also hints such as cages filled with strings of greater-than and less-than symbols, odd or even numbers, and "straights" of consecutive numbers in some order (123, 234, 345, etc.). You've still got to follow the traditional "one of each number in each row and column" rule, but you're allowed to have a number appear more than once within a cage.

To place a number into the grid, mouse over the desired box and click on the number you want; clicking again will erase it. If you want to eliminate a number as a possibility from a box, right click on it. When you put all of the numbers in their correct places, you've won, and you're straight off to solve another puzzle.

As you progress through the puzzles, not only will the grids you face get larger, but you'll also encounter some tricky twists as well. For example, some puzzles don't start with the operation cages fully formed, and it's up to you to paint in their boundaries. Other puzzles require you to work back and forth between two grids, where a number put in one grid goes into the matching spot in the other. Some puzzles use a combination of both of these twists and other obstacles, meaning there's no shortage of challenges to tackle.

Analysis: One of the first things you might notice when looking at the Everyday Genius: SquareLogic collection is how much you're getting for your money. With over 20,000 puzzles included in this pack, there's no doubt that you're getting a pretty fantastic deal, with hours upon hours of puzzling pleasure.

On the flipside of that same coin is the fact that while you've got a ton of puzzles at your disposal, you still need to unlock them all in order, starting with several rounds of the baby 4x4 puzzles. You're given about a dozen practice puzzles, despite the fact that it only takes the final one to unlock the next stage (which you can jump to right away). This is necessary as a tutorial, but annoying if you're trying to jump straight into the harder puzzles.

Similarly, there are thousands of puzzles to play, but the only obvious order to them is that they increase in size as you move through the different "regions". There's no search function to help you find the levels you want right away. So if you want, say, a bunch of 6x6 puzzles with double grids and no greater-than clues, you'll have to look into each puzzle grouping separately before you can find what you want (if such a combination even exists). On the other hand, if you're looking for a variety of puzzles, you'll have to switch between puzzles manually because you can only bring up one type of puzzle at a time.

Each puzzle is presented rather simply, with a little bit of ambient sounds paired with the theme of the region you're on. When you solve a puzzle, there's no tremendous animation, just one puzzle sliding off before the next one pops into view. This inornate style is hardly a bad thing though, as it's quite easy to get lost in the zen-like calmness of the game as a whole. As a word of caution, don't play this game in bed. Not once, but twice I've fallen asleep while playing this game, mouse still in hand and laptop still balanced on my stomach. And that's not a bad thing! These puzzles are perfect for relaxing.

Another nice quirk to this game is the hints-to-solution system. If you find yourself stuck in a puzzle, you'll find a handy Solving Tips button that will point you first to the row(s) or column(s) where the next logical move can be made, along with some guiding directions. Click it again, and it'll narrow your search down to the relevant boxes, and so forth, before you eventually hit straightforward directions on what to do next. There's no limit to how many times you can use this function, so it's practically impossible to become irreversibly stuck.

You'll also find that as you mouse over certain types of cages, you'll see a small box pop up showing you all the possible mathematical combinations to correctly solve that cage. Those in red are impossible, and those in green are still possible... sort of. While this is a helpful feature, it doesn't work entirely properly. If all of the necessary numbers for a possible solution are still available, it will be listed as green, even if it's actually impossible to place that combination into the grid considering what's already been in place or eliminated. It's still a handy guide, even if you need to continue with a little more mental labor.

Between its simple and relaxing design and plethora of puzzles to tackle, there's plenty to enjoy about Everyday Genius: SquareLogic.You're definitely getting a ton of bang for your buck, and a friendly, relaxing environment means you can enjoy all of it in your own little world of tranquility. Just please don't play this game while operating heavy machinery.

Windows:
Get the full version (via Steam)

Mac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.

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