Do you remember the old times? The times when games were simple but fun. And over the years, they got more complex: more side missions, more details in the environment, and a ton of loot. At first, this complexity worked quite well, and more features meant more fun and a well-thought-out game.
But nowadays, I feel overwhelmed and bored with all the details. I wanted to experience a simple game created with passion. And as usual, I found myself exploring an indie game. At first glance, I was happy to find Maze Mayhem. A 2D maze game where I can feel nostalgic for a few minutes and miss my childhood. And after fulfilling my need for nostalgia, I would delete the game. But this time, I didn’t, and I was happy that I didn’t. Why? That’s what I’ll be talking about today.
Maze Mayhem is a 2D maze game with many challenges. The game was developed by Matthew McClymond, an indie developer who has learned game development over the past six years. When he started, he had a project just for learning. But as he worked on and off for six years, he saw potential and built a game enough to release it on Steam last year. Since last year, he has polished the game (V0.85) in the past few months. And now, the levels are updated with music remastered. And now, thanks to his efforts, we have an interesting, unique title. What? Unique?! There were a ton of these games back in the day. Hold on! And hear me out.
Maze Mayhem offers easy gameplay with arrow keys. There are no gadgets or weapons, just elements for and against your benefits. And this is where Maze Mayhem started to impress me: a clever way of teaching.
The game teaches simple mechanics very well. In many titles, you need to read through a set of rules. But the Maze Mayhem teaches its mechanics by using clever symbolism. Maze Mayhem uses marks and shapes that gamers have been familiar with for a long time. Like a double arrow with a circle meaning, “This thing will give speed.” And red areas glow and fade, showing whether it’s safe or unsafe to pass. So, when I started the game, I didn’t die trying to figure out most of the features. There are 50 levels of challenges that get more difficult with every step. After completing all of it, you can play Sadistic Levels. I don’t enjoy commercial breaks either, but I need to explain the story before presenting what the sadistic levels are.
There is no complete story in Maze Mayhem. It’s not like a premise we follow. And this is why I wrote the story in italics. Because I want to talk about what the story (more accurately, the ”conversation system”) adds to the game.
After every 10 levels, you will be talking with an entity. Their conversations play a crucial role in the gameplay. You can even skip mazes if you pick the correct answers. That’s a feature I never imagined seeing in a 2D maze game. How did the developer think of this? I have no clue. But it’s so creative. Because of this, the player can replay the game and explore the game’s secrets. Also, these conversations aren’t just for shortcuts or finding secrets, but getting to know what or who this entity we are talking with is.
Lastly, I want to mention Sadistic Levels. It is basically the more difficult and evil twins of the first 50 levels. Honestly, I wasn’t able to reach them. But like me, you can check out the gameplay footage posted on his Youtube channel. They look horrifying. I am genuinely curious about how developers test these levels and approve my thoughts, like “Yeah, this is torturing enough. I have completed it after 137 times. So it’s doable alright!” I do enjoy challenges, but they are something else.
It has been rough, playing through many levels. But it was entertaining. Not because I am a daredevil or fond of maze games. Because of how unique it was. Even after playing Maze Mayhem and finishing this review, I am amazed at how the developer thought of adding a system that changes your gameplay and makes a “simple” maze game replayable. For maze fans and gamers like me who want to drift away from the modern genre, don’t miss Maze Mayhem. You can find it on Steam. As IndieWod, we appreciate developers sharing with us their games and the thoughts they have put into the development. It’s great to see indie titles rising and bringing light to the new rising developers.