iPhone Life magazine

Review: Maze Runner by 11Apps

I have nothing against simple games – some of my favorite iPhone entertainment has been easy, casual experiences.  I’m really not sure what to make of Maze Runner, though.  Unfortunately, it feels more like an embellished textbook example project than a fully fleshed out game.  The controls are awkward, the different game play modes don’t really add anything to the mix, and the aesthetics are basic and bland.  As a programmer I’d actually be more interested in seeing the behind the scenes of this game than the final results, and I love games.

Run, Boy, It's A MazeBasically you run around a 2D maze collecting the required number of gems to finish a level.  There are some traps along the way such as pits that you can fall in, and there are sometimes items to help you like teleports.  On many levels there are even hidden passages you need to find.  On paper it actually sounds kind of cool, but when you look at things developers have done with a simple concept like the ball in the labyrinth, this becomes quite dull in execution.

There are three modes to the game, but they don’t really improve the situation much.  Explore mode lets you take as much time as you want, which actually makes the game real boring.  Time Trial mode pits you against the clock, but you don’t actually lose if you go over your allotted number of seconds.  In Race mode you have three difficulty settings, and you must beat the level in the allotted time in this mode.  I don’t really care for the two timed modes because the maze zooms in and you no longer see the player.

To move through the maze you swipe the screen.  This seems like a no-brainer, except they never mention that you actually have to swipe in the opposite direction of how you want to move.  Even when you realize that’s what’s going on it doesn’t seem natural, and I often find myself accidentally swiping the wrong way, which is bad both in timed modes and when you’re inadvertently heading for a trap.

The graphics basically look like they came from a game toolkit starter pack.  The floor tiles are bland, the gems don’t sparkle and the maze runner looks like he jumped off of a street sign.  There is absolutely no animation or any special effects to speak of.  Sadly, the visuals are better than the sound.  General movement sounds like you’re scraping sandpaper against something, and the only other real noises are a chime when you pick up a gem and a scream when the guy falls down a pit.  There’s no music, but at least you can listen to whatever you have on your iDevice.  Normally I wouldn’t consider this acceptable, but in this case it’s almost necessary to distract you from the fact that there’s not much of a game here.

Ultimately, MazeRunner is not my cup of tea.  I’m all for a basic maze trolling game, but if there’s not going to be much content to the game, at least make it look and sound good.  In it’s current state MazeRunner has little to offer unless the developer wants to share the source code.

Overall Score: 3/10
App Store Link

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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.