A-Maze-In is a very polished, casual maze game from MAROBI Entertainment Inc. You play as Mino, a teenage Minotaur, and have to use his special abilities and potions to progress through many mazes, overcoming a range of enemies and obstacles as you do so. It’s currently available on IOS and is a free pickup.
A-Maze-In looks great and has quality production value. I love the cartoony-feeling art style and the sound quality is just as good. You can really feel that time and effort has been put into polish and as a result it feels nice and solid. The main menu has a couple of simple settings for sound and some social media buttons.
The game starts with comic book style narration that outlines the premise of the game. You’re Mino and your princess Mina gets kidnapped by another evil Minotaur and your adventure is to save her. It’s a neat way of introducing the player to the game; it’s much more engaging that a wall of text.
And now we’re into the main screen of the game, the map, and it’s huge! There’s over 110 unique mazes in the game so there’s plenty of content to go at. My first nit-pick with the game comes here though and it lies in the ad. At the bottom of the map screen there is an ad and I think it’s a shame it’s there blocking the nice graphics. It’s also there every time you view the screen which is a bit of a pain, I feel there’s other places it could be placed that’s less in the way.
Gameplay is a very traditional maze game; work your way through each maze, find the key and get to the end. No awards for innovativeness but it’s certainly a solid implementation of the genre. As you progress through the levels there’s continuing running dialogue from Mino and cast which ensures the story doesn’t get lost along the way.
The controls feel great. I was worried when I saw the virtual D-pad as I’ve played games with a pretty awful implementation of it, but A-Maze-In’s is nice and fluid. Abilities and potions are used via 4 icons in the bottom left which is nice and simple and the quality of art is consistent with the rest of the game.
There are various enemies and obstacles throughout the levels that you can either avoid or fight and various pickups that give you score. Each level also has a number of objectives that you have to accomplish to get a maximum of three stars on each. I also believe there’s a number of unique bosses that you fight after X levels. I didn’t reach one myself, however I’ve been informed they add some interesting variety to the game and the screenshots I’ve seen certainly seem to hint at this. A-Maze-In is fun, but is certainly designed for a casual gaming audience. I think the gamers out there looking for a real challenge would be left somewhat short-changed.
My main problem with A-Maze-In lies in the fact that once you run out of lives you have to either buy more, ask friends on Facebook or simply wait for 30 minutes; the whole social-coupling and pay-to-play game model. It’s a tricky subject. You can’t say ‘You wouldn’t have to buy lives for [insert AAA title here] so you should here”; they’re different markets. You don’t spend millions on an IOS title and making money in such a saturated market is hard and these are tried and tested techniques that have become a common feature in this type of game. I do however think that neither in-app purchases nor social integration should hold-back gameplay and in this case it does. If you want to add those things to extend gameplay to those willing to pay then fine, I’m still not a fan but I understand. I think however when it actively stops you playing the game a line has been crossed.
One item in the app-store I do like is the ability to remove ads. I like the fact that the game is free to attract an audience then you have the ability to pay and remove ads. That’s a good way of gaining an audience as opposed to having separate free and paid versions of the app.
I’m going to give A-Maze-In a solid 8/10. If I were to change my ways and become a social gamer A-Maze-In would be one of titles I’d download. As it currently stands however it’s a bit casual for me. Production value is there, it’s definitely a quality app, just I’m not a huge fan of social-media coupling and pay-to-play mechanics interfering with gameplay so directly.