Release date: 2021
5 – 60 mins
Favouritefoe score: 8/10
Mazes and Maps!
Now, you would think having a map would help you find your way out of a maze. Think again. Mazescape from Devir Games is a series of series of single player puzzles with a clever, unique twist!
Available to buy this summer, Mazescape is a set of labyrinths which are revealed as you journey around them, looking for artefacts and ultimately the way out!
But, just like a map from those crazy pre-Google, pre-smart phone, pre-sat nav days, your journey literally unfolds before your eyes.
Beginning at the compass point, you place your wooden marker on the route your nose senses is going to be the correct one to get you to the impossible triangle at the end. You then travel as far as you can before coming to a crease and deciding which part of the map to unfold next. The big question is, will your decisions take you further along your journey, or will you end up forever lost in, well, the labyrinth?!
Click below to watch my Mazescape Rapid Review video!
Hunting for the symbol that will transport you back to reality, you will encounter obstacles and artefacts along your way. These could be locked doors for which you will need to find the colour coded keys, treasure chests to collect, or seemingly endless circles of stairs and bridges which you have to navigate in order to escape the maze.
Relief is short-lived, however, as you look down and spy a number on the cover of the map. Suddenly, your aching brain realises that you have another six labyrinths to go in each set before victory is truly yours, each one increasing in difficulty compared to the last.
Head in hands, the lyrics of that well know Eagles song, Hotel California, swirl around your ears; “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”!
The first two sets to be made available are Labyrinthos, a city themed puzzle staged over three distinct territories (the docks, a graveyard, and the mountain), and Ariadne, which is set in ancient Crete in the famous labyrinth of Daedalus and features a Minotaur. Each series has its own styling and ultimately builds to a final, brain busting challenge.
I was kindly sent a copy of Level #2 Labyrinthos and Level #5 Ariadne from the publisher for the purpose of this review, and I really enjoyed the different challenges.
Although both maze puzzles sharing the same basic concept, there was a definite change in terms of style, atmosphere, and crunch between the two. They also fold differently, making the challenge even trickier as you can’t use your previous mental mapping skills to help you out! And whilst there may be a few rare foldable puzzles out there somewhere, I haven’t come across anything as comprehensive and expansive as these.
Just to give you an idea of the building-to-brain-burn feeling, Level #2 Labyrinthos took me around 10 minutes (factoring in working out what I was meant to be doing and how I was meant to be doing it). But I was still flipping, flapping, and backtracking 45 minutes into Level #5 Ariadne with no impossible triangle in sight!
I didn’t have the official wooden stylus marker which I understand will come with the set, but a spare meeple worked well – in fact, walking them along the route amped up the pressure as it really felt like a little person was actually lost in the Labyrinth and I had to get them out!
Retail copies will also present each series of maps in their own nice small magnetic catch box with scoresheets to help you keep track of the objectives you are trying to achieve along your routes.
Lost in the Labyrinth!
By not physically marking the map with a pen, the sets can be replayed. And given the amount of map flipping and twisting going on, unless you are blessed with an eidetic memory, you will be hard pushed to remember your way out even after you have challenged the various Labyrinths and won.
For example, I looked back over Level #2 Labyrinthos in a proud display of aren’t-I-clever-nessfor my Bearded Moon’s benefit, having only just escaped it. And, as I went to show him my route using the meeple marker, I was already lost in the docks again, clueless as to what I did only minutes ago. I even got lost during the game itself simply because, having looked away for a moment, I then couldn’t remember for sure which staircase my meeple had scaled. Once again finding myself deep into the maze and seemingly further from the glorious end! That does make me think that perhaps the wooden stylus would be better than my ad-hoc meeple, or even a dry-wipe version for the less amaze-ingly gifted puzzlers amongst!. But then again, that would eliminate some of the super brain burn.
On the replayability point, I would mention that the paper maps are not the most robust component out there, and the amount of turning, folding, unfolding, and flipping going on did make me worry somewhat for the integrity of the creases. However, I am hopeful that the shiny new box fresh sets will be a little more play-hardy. And with a low price point of only £11 per set, you’re getting a lot of think-per-pound!
Maze-tastic Mind Melt!
What I like most about Mazescape is that, unlike normal maze puzzles, you can’t see the whole maze at once. You may be able to see the start and end points from the get-go, but they quickly disappear as the big picture is literally hidden. Reverse engineering from solution back to the start is therefore impossible. Cheaty-McCheaty-Pantswill have no luck here!
The back of each map also has a very simple set of illustrations showing your primary as well as secondary objectives to achieve as you go on your merry, mind-melty way.
But, Devir haven’t left you totally high and dry, doomed to endless circling and forehead slapping. Should you need it, the solutions are available through a QR code printed on the back of each map.
I think these puzzles are a great, unique, portable, solo player experience which are incredibly budget-friendly. If you like maze games or you know a gamer who does, then I think Mazescape definitely bring somethings new to the genre and to your table!