Let's start off with some positive words, because there won't be too many in this review. Mazecraft has the building blocks of a great game, in having you create mazes, pepper them with hazards, and share them with the world.
Immerse yourself in the community, and there's potential for almost limitless entertainment, playing other people's mazes and experimenting further with your own creations.
The problem is in the execution, which repeatedly punches you in the face like an angry minotaur wearing a boxing glove.
The game looks fine. It's all blocky pixels, like it's been squeezed out of a SNES. The faux-3D viewpoint occasionally hides hazards behind walls, but otherwise Mazecraft is charming. The music's also quite nice.
The controls, though, appear to have been designed by a sadist. You swipe to move, which should be simple enough, but on every device we tried during testing, swipes would too often be misinterpreted, sending the little hero the wrong way.
If Mazecraft were more forgiving, that wouldn't be a problem, but by design the mazes often have instakill hazards or solutions that require precision moves.
This is frustrating enough when you hit such a thing on first entering a maze, but it's infuriating when you've spent five minutes carefully picking your way towards an exit only to get killed by something you couldn't avoid.
Some of this could be fixed in an update, but much of the problem is down to the people creating the mazes. The developer should have provided a few dozen amazing examples at the very least, separating those out from user-submitted mazes.
As it stands, venture into the 'Popular' or 'Latest' lists and you'll find too many people clearly delighting in one or more of the following: creating insanely hard mazes; fashioning mazes you can only beat by following and contacting the owner, to get a key for password-protected barriers; and gaming the in-game currency system through mazes filled with gold that must otherwise be collected far more slowly, earned by watching ads, or paid for.
With the lack of cross-device sync (no iCloud, and during testing connection to social networks didn't work), you're also lumbered with separate accounts across devices, which is absurd.
During play, you get the feeling Mazecraft wants to be breezy old-school arcade lark — a zoom/collect/avoid title along the lines of Boulder Dash, but opened up to the world.
Instead, it's more like Rick Dangerous, with instant deaths aplenty. Combined with the spammy nature of so many submissions, this is crushingly disappointing, because there's plenty of fun to be had creating mazes, and the foundation is there for something genuinely brilliant. Right now, though, Mazecraft just feels lost.
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