Review: Little Labyrinths

ByteSize Games’ Little Labyrinths isn’t looking to re-invent the wheel. They simply want to create an entertaining variant on a classic pastime. Reeling from the success of their previous game FlipShip, they’ve released a collection of mazes for gamers who love an accessible challenge…but only if you love mazes. Yes, of the pen-and-paper variety.

Little Labyrinths serves up a multitude of mazes that you’re expected to complete in as little time as possible. This is achieved through tracing a line from your character at the start of the maze to the end, deciphering the correct path to take to get you there in the shortest time possible. In a Pac-Man-like bid for collectibles, you’re able to gather a variety of items along the way that act as time bonuses and other boons in your quest to finish with the fastest time. Of course, simply finishing one maze won’t net you the coveted finish – a new maze will replace the old as soon as you complete the last. The cycle repeats until the timer ticks down to zero, when your game ends.

As you progress through the game you’ll unlock more robust game modes and additional time-attack arenas where you’re given three minutes to see how many mazes you can zip through, and an additional practice mode where you’re no longer racing against the clock. And if your problem-solving skills are a little rusty since your school days of helping Mickey Mouse reach Minnie in the coloring books of yesteryear, you’re going to need some help if you want to continue improving on your solving times.

New characters and maps prove to be a light at the end of what at first seems like a mediocre tunnel, and it’s entertaining to see what types of items can be mixed up to throw a little variety into what could otherwise quickly become a stale endeavor. There are pirates, if that’s your thing. Dragons too. There’s something for everyone if you play long enough.

Speed and accuracy are key, and you’ll often find yourself fighting with some sensitive tactile controls. It’s nowhere near as intuitive as taking a pen to paper, which is understandable, but tackling corners and zipping through mazes is a bit cumbersome and unforgiving at times. Usually you can coast right through with a certain finesse, but it does take a little practice. It’s not something you want to have happen on your third maze when you’ve made excellent time throughout the first two or so. I could see this working a little better on a console with a stylus where your finger isn’t the only metric for success – perhaps a DS would better suit the game style?

You’ll explore several locales, from greenery-rich jungle areas to darkened suburban-appearing areas, all the while determining the fastest route to the finish. Overall, the presentation feels a bit underwhelming when compared to ByteSize Games’ previous effort, FlipShip, which boasted top-notch visuals and designs, where Little Labyrinth feels as if it were envisioned and finalized in Photoshop in a matter of hours. The standout unlockable FlipShip items were a treat, but as far as aesthetics, Little Labyrinths is more than a little lacking. I did however enjoy its jovial soundtrack, which lingered in my head a little longer than I felt it was welcome to.

In the end, Little Labyrinths will most likely only appeal to a limited audience – the very same who get their kicks from the accelerometer-based mazes that litter the App Store and those who need a quick, simple diversion on the commute home or while waiting at the doctor’s office. There’s plenty here to satisfy the craving for puzzle fun, but I can’t help but wish there had been more here from such an ambitious studio – at the very least, a more professional presentation in the visual department. As it is, Little Labyrinths is a serviceable purchase, but one that could certainly benefit from a few much-needed updates.

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