The Impossible Test: Frustration Can Be Fun

Some games help you relax. Other games challenge your mind or reflexes, but what if you just want to be completely frustrated, and maybe a little annoyed?

It turns out that there’s a game for that, too.

The Impossible Test, from Pixelcube Studios, is a free puzzle game for the iPhone and iPod Touch available from the App Store.


The Impossible Test is sort of like the nightmare version of a timed IQ test. You are presented with a series of visual, word, and math puzzles, consisting of simple directions accompanied (usually) by a picture. The directions may say what to do, but they never really tell you how. That part’s up to you. If you guess wrong, the game penalizes you. If you guess wrong often enough, you fail The Impossible Test and have to start over from the beginning. Fun times.

Title Screen
It looks harmless.

High Points.

Although The Impossible Test is pretty brutal and unforgiving, it’s easy to play and doesn’t require more than a little thought, and a few simple motions.

It’s the perfect distraction when you’re trying to solve a real-world problem, and feel mentally stuck. The correct action in the game is rarely obvious; when it is, it feels like a trick. You’re forced to think in different ways in order to solve the puzzles. After a few minutes, you feel a tad smarter and you are thinking more laterally. (At least, that’s how I justified playing the game.)

Things that could be better.

The Impossible Test gets frustrating very quickly. It’s supposed to. If you have a temper, there’s probably a risk of throwing your phone. You’ve been warned.

Keeping in mind that frustration and difficulty are desired features here, the main problem with The Impossible Test is that it’s an eyesore. It’s very hard to look at Marker Felt (the default font for Notes) on a yellow background for a long time, which is what you’re doing here. The game could be made less ugly without making it less difficult, and it would probably get more play.

Wait, what diamond?

If you’re colour-blind, have trouble with basic arithmetic, or are not a native English speaker, The Impossible Test is even harder. That might not be an entirely bad thing, given that the game’s mandate is to be as difficult as possible. Other people with normal colour vision had trouble differentiating between the game’s “orange” and “red” when I asked their opinion.


I’m glad The Impossible Test is a free app, because I’d hate to have spent money on it. That being said, it is fun in small doses. I’ve been playing with it for days, and by the looks of it, I’m nowhere near done.

Maybe I’m not as smart as I think I am after all.

No way I’m showing this to my mom.