Mazescape Labyrinthos Review
You might remember Icarus from Greek mythology, who flew too close to the sun and melted his wax-covered wings. What you might not remember from that story, is that Icarus’ dad was Daedalus, and being an inventive chap, he made Icarus’ wings. He also built the famous Labyrinth, used to imprison the Minotaur. Mazescape Labyrinthos drops you into a series of mazes more devious than anything the Minotaur faced.
The Mazescape games, from publishers Devir and Kosmos Games, are a series of small box games. They’re designed to be played solo, and use a novel game system. Each level of the game is a piece of paper, folded up like a map. Your aim in each level is to navigate the ever-changing maze, visiting as many of the collectibles as possible, before finally heading to the impossible triangle at the end of the maze.
Stick to it
How you navigate the maze is what makes this game different to any I’ve played before. The map/maze starts folded up, and you press the end of the included stick on the starting point. From there, you just trace a path along any white path, following any tunnels or stairs, but never taking the stick off the paper.
This doesn’t get you very far before you hit a dead end, or the edge of the paper, so what then? When that happens you unfold or refold a part of the paper and retrace your steps onto a new part of the crazy maze. Mazescape’s maps will see you folding horizontally and vertically, inside and out, but never lifting your stick off the path. If you’ve ever played the mobile game Monument Valley, you’ll know how these paths works.
If you want to see how it works for yourself, there’s an online version you can play right now, by clicking here.
What a tangled web we weave
There’s really not much more to Mazescape Labyrinthos. Pick a map, get going, and see how quickly and thoroughly you can solve it. The mazes start fairly easy, but by the time you get to the seventh – and final – sheet, you’re in for a stiff challenge, especially if you want to tick off all the collectibles on the included checklists. If you don’t like mazes, this probably isn’t a game for you, but if you enjoy exercising your little grey cells, you’ll find these puzzles really engaging.
It’s not a massively deep, or long-lasting game, but it’s not competing for that space on your shelf. It’s the sort of thing you could take to the pub, or your parents’ house, and spend an hour exercising your brain. You’ll find yourself telling yourself little stories – “I need to get here, and to get there I need to go here first, but how do I get there?” – and trying to reverse-engineer the parts of the maze you want to get to. By the time you finish one of the more difficult mazes, you’ll feel mentally drained, but very pleased with yourself.
Mazescape Labyrinthos is a really unique little game. I’ve never played anything else even remotely like it, and when I did some detective work online, the closest thing I could find was Friedemann Friese’s Folders. Amazingly, the two games were developed concurrently on opposite sides of the world. Mazescape’s designers in Chile, however, created a much more involved, and polished game.
I think there’s a wide range of people that Mazescape will appeal to, and that group of people includes gamers and non-gamers alike. It would make an excellent backpack game for a weekend’s camping, or a gift for someone who likes puzzles. I really like the fact that there’s no setup and tear-down time, and that I can easily play a maze or two inside half an hour. You’ll glimpse the end of the maze and things you need to find as you’re folding the pages back and forth, teasing you, compelling you to complete it.
The graphic design is great, and the concept and execution is very clever. The satisfaction you’ll take from finishing each maze is a great feeling. Just remember that these are quick-fix games, designed to be played casually and quickly, by yourself. If you’re looking for a game you’re going to get hours and hours of involved play from, get yourself something else from Devir’s catalogue, like the excellent The Red Cathedral.
If you want something a bit different however, something to fill a special niche, or if you’re looking for a gift for the gamer who (probably) has everything, Mazescape Labyrinthos is a great choice. Especially when you consider it’s only going to set you back just over £10. What a clever, unique little game. Top stuff.
Review copy kindly provided by Kosmos Games. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
Mazescape Labyrinthos (2021)
Designers: Pablo Céspedes, Víctor Hugo Cisternas
Publisher: Devir Games
Art: Ivana Gahona
Playing time: 5-90 mins