I have to start this review off by saying that I might be a bit biassed. Mostly because I’ve spent way too much time playing minesweeper during classes.
Maze Frontier is a mobile game about a girl who died and a silent boy that wasn’t about to let go. Throughout the game you are accompanied by a fragment of her soul while searching for crystals in hopes of bringing her back.
The game mixes in minesweeper with puzzles during the levels, so you do have to do some thinking. The game recommends playing with headphones and I have to agree with that because the music is very soothing.
The isometric camera adds some nice detail to the game, although at times it does feel unnecessary. Realistically it could easily be a 2D game, 3D is a welcome design choice, but it could be better optimized because the game feels a bit sluggish at times. Maybe a 2D mode would have been a useful addition during the development process.
Another thing is that you can expect your phone to get hot and really slow unless you have a more powerful phone. But that’s not uncommon for mobile games. The style is eye-catching without being too flashy, so I can’t really hold it against them too much.
The story is a bit basic in all honesty and it’s told in a simple way. You are told who you are and what you have to do, that’s pretty much it. Between levels you get a thought or two from the silent boy and it would make you feel bad for the entire situation if it weren’t for the fact that his emotions feel forced upon on you.
Gameplay is for the most part simple, all you have to do is click where you want to be. The minesweeper part of the game plays out well, you have tiles with numbers on them telling you how many traps are in contact with the tile and all you have to do is hold down click on the trapped tile to mark it.
The puzzles aren’t too complicated, but from time to time there will be puzzles that you will mess up and have to go back a checkpoint and try again. The puzzles are usually a combination of buttons and falling platforms, moving boxes without blocking the exit or yourself and rolling stones to buttons they need to be on. Some of the shortcomings in gameplay are the movement and fixed camera.
The movement pathing is going to cost you a heart or checkpoint from time to time. If you click too far the game is going to map out the movement a lot differently than you hope it will. Also for some reason, it sends you diagonally across tiles, so if you didn’t mark a dangerous tile you will take damage from it. This can also cause you to get stuck, instead of going around terrain your character will be trying to cut through it and get stuck on its edge. You really have to hold the characters hand and move him only a few tiles at a time.
The other annoying thing is the camera. The camera is fixed on the player during most of the gameplay. You can’t move the camera around to get a feel for the map or to see if there’s a spot you haven’t checked for coins or hearts. So if you want to get all the coins, have fun walking around the entire map.
And after you finish the story mode, you have an endless mode waiting for you.
Previously it was mentioned that the music is soothing and it really is. It fits right into the gameplay and makes a nice atmosphere for the player. Well, it is a nice atmosphere until you pick up a coin. When you pick up a coin it hits a high note that really cuts through the atmosphere (and your eardrums). The chests are even worse because the note is repeated for every coin in the chest.
The different levels have different color palettes, never anything strainful on the eyes. The worlds are well built and clear with a few odd ones that feel like there are too many detours just to add to the size.
In conclusion, it’s a pretty game and you can’t take that away from it, even though it’s rather basic beyond that. The gameplay can be a bit finicky at times but nothing too bad. The story, in my opinion, isn’t as thought-provoking and emotional as the developers would probably like it to be, but it might sit better with you. The atmosphere is on point if you can handle the high note from time to time. And if you just care about what happens at the end of the story: he comes back to her grave where her soul/ghost gives him a hug and moves on to the afterlife, yeah I saved you a bunch of time.