Title: Island Maze
Developer: Drageus Games
Publisher: Drageus Games
Genre: Puzzle, Strategy
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 20/09/2019
Price: £2.69 (£1.34 until the 13/10/19) – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
I’ve been impressed with the selection of Drageus Games’ titles so far, so when we were kindly given codes for Island Maze, I was more than happy to review it. I was drawn in by the soft art style and by it being in the puzzle genre. I think I speak for everyone when I say there’s nothing like sitting down to play something that gets the brain whirring, whether that be Tetris, Portal or even Candy Crush. The aim of this game seemed simple; get the cube to the end of the maze. But I soon found out all was not as easy as it appeared.
You are a block, and in each level, you are on an island. Your goal? To reach the glowing exit. Sounds easy, right? However, there are certain pathways blocked by coloured gemstones in the ground or walls. To get through these without crumbling to rubble, you need to pick up the matching gem that is somewhere on the island. All you need to do is make sure the face of the block that you picked the gem up with, touches the matching stone. It still doesn’t sound too difficult so far.
The challenge comes in when you have multiple gems to pick up with two stones to pass through in a row, for example. This means you have to make sure your cube is facing the right way, with the gems on the right faces, so that it touches both the matching stones consecutively as you roll. This involves having to manoeuvre the block, using trial and error to see what movement allows you to be in the right position. If you mismatch a gem, you break and must either restart the level or undo your last move. Hopefully, the gameplay trailer will give you more of an idea of what I mean.
The game also introduces spheres to pick up, which you must connect with black plates on the walls to climb up to other platforms. The levels get progressively harder, adding more and more gems to match and rows of climbable slabs. Admittedly, after the first couple of levels, it already got me scratching my head. If you’re looking for an easy puzzle game, this is not it!
Luckily, the controls are super easy to pick up. Left joystick or d-pad to move, then right joystick to swivel your point of view around to see the whole island. 28 levels doesn’t seem a lot, but when they’re as brain-teasing as this, you spend more time on the game than you’d expect. I wasn’t expecting hundreds of levels for the price of the game, but you get more than your money’s worth with the challenge.
Usually, I can get pretty agitated when I’m stuck on a challenging game and want to give up. However, this is counteracted by both the visuals and the audio. The shapes have soft edges with no harsh outlines, the animation smooth and the colours muted, already making you feel more relaxed. The waves of the sea are almost hypnotic, and I especially liked the triangular effect as it rolls up and down.
Pair this with a lulling instrumental soundtrack, and it spurs you to keep trying to succeed, putting your mind at ease. There’s a satisfying noise as you click into the right place and pair the gems, partnered with a glowing light. An upbeat soundtrack would not work particularly with the visuals being so calming. Though the game can be frustrating, this helps you stay relaxed.
There is an aspect of replayability too, as the fewer moves you make, the more diamonds (like a star rating) you receive. These diamonds then go towards unlocking the later levels. I’m sure some keen puzzle enthusiasts will challenge themselves to get three diamonds in every level!
Island Maze is definitely for those with logical brains looking for a top-level, challenging puzzle game. I would say for me it’s a little too challenging just because I have more of a creative brain! But you are getting so much more out of the game than you’re paying simply because of the challenge. Despite its difficulty, the visuals and audio keep it a relaxing, enjoyable experience.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Island Maze from the Nintendo eShop on the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Island-Maze-1640593.html
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.