Hey kids, do you have four dollars and a ton of free time? Well then I'd say go and get milkshakes with friends or something, but if you're lactose intolerant or trying to lose weight you do have the option of Maze Bandit by Gamestone Studio. It costs about as much as a good game for your phone, and that's because it is. There is a freemium game you can download on your phone, which is good because it really feels like that's where the game belongs. That isn't the version I'm reviewing though, I looked at the PC port available on Steam. I'm just glad that they didn't have the audacity to charge an exorbitant amount for their mobile game for PC. It's a time waster, but not an entirely unpleasant one. The story is as uninspiring as the graphics and audio and the campaign goes from challenging to frustrating, but the PvP is for the most part well-executed and it is fun building a maze.
Maze Bandit is available on Steam for $3.99.
There's a great evil in the land putting all of the princesses to sleep and you, a lowly bandit must traverse his labyrinths and death traps in order to rescue the princesses and stop the evil wizard. A bandit whose quests must take him through mazes. A…Maze Bandit if you will. I don't know if there's some sort of satisfactory conclusion because it just got to the point I found the game too frustrating. I wasn't too torn though, because from a story standpoint there wasn't really any overarching narrative.
The campaign is a series of increasingly difficult mazes and death traps, with each new obstacle becoming an option to put in your own personal maze, which I will get to shortly. Many of the mazes were well-designed with decent puzzles, and if you're having difficulty you can spend some of the in-game currency to see how to solve it, though you will still need to solve it yourself, which means you can't buy your way to the ending. Though I wish you could use that item to just see snippets of the solution rather than the whole thing, in one particular level I was just having trouble with the last bit but I still had to watch the entire solution again. Sometimes that didn't even do much good though because many of the puzzles are based on split-second timing, and if you miss your incredibly fleeting moment you're met with instant death.
This brings me to another issue: There are no checkpoints in these levels. This isn't a problem all the time, but in a few levels that are just a few disjointed puzzles I would love to not need to keep on finishing a puzzle about twenty times just because I died in a completely separate puzzle in the same maze. When that happens, the game goes from difficult to frustrating or even infuriating.
BYOM (Build Your Own Maze)
One of the main selling points about Maze Bandit is the ability to build your own maze for other players to go through in order to pilfer the gold from your treasury. First off, your treasury is separate from your spending gold so that was a great way to be sure that you don't wake up and turn on your game to find that all of your gold has been stolen. As I said earlier, the traps and monsters you can put in your maze depend on what you've seen in the campaign and you can buy upgrades to how many tiles you can have and how many items you can put in it with gold. A lot of these puzzles were way too easy because it's expensive to have a good maze. However, there is one point on this I really feel I need to touch on. In order to save your maze each time to make it accessible for rival players, you have to complete it yourself twice consecutively. That is something I absolutely love about this. No one can just lock the player in an impossible puzzle or even just a locked room: it needs to be not only possible, but at the owner's skill level.
Unfortunately, there are ways around this. You could just keep your dungeon in a state of permanent renovation and you will never be able to claim revenge on those who stole from you. If you alter your maze but don't save it, it will be marked as under renovation and that will at least temporarily block other players from challenging your maze. I think it's only temporary though, as when i tried doing that I was only safe for a few days. I do know that it happens because when I was raided by about six people when I started (it never got to that quantity ever again), four of those people couldn't be retaliated against. If you just always had a saved maze that would be preferable, the user base takes advantage of that grace period like crazy.
And when I say "User base" I mean "all six of us." I kept coming across the exact same mazes by the exact same users, and when I decided to check the leaderboards I found I was number two for the day only because there was only one other person active and this was probably at about 10 at night.
Why can't a princess protect herself?
Finally there are the princesses. First off, you need to finish either one of the marked levels or pillage another player's maze. Then you need to pick one of three doors. One of them has a princess. If you don't get her that's rough luck, buddy. Better luck at the next one. After you've rescued a princess, you have to wait a certain amount of real time in order for her to fully awaken. After they've awakened they'll give you a piece of clothing or a new hair color to wear, nothing really game making. I would have hoped that the rewards would have gone beyond a minor cosmetic difference, but I suppose in a game this small where you're not even guaranteed a princess even the smallest buff could make some puzzles far easier than they should be.
Graphics and Audio
There is nothing inherently wrong with the graphics or audio of Maze Bandit, but I found them overall unmemorable. It looks and sounds like a mobile game, even if you play it on PC. The only problem I have with the game aesthetically is that there really is no character customization. You always have the same clothes and hairstyle, only the colors vary. You could get a hat, but with that money you could add another trap to your maze.
There is nothing inherently wrong with Maze Bandit on PC, it's just a freemium mobile game outfitted for a four-dollar steam release. I didn't find it offensive, but some of the puzzles were definitely designed to make you need to buy new lives. I would say overall, the word for Maze Bandit is "competent." It is a competent game. Solid C work. I would say overall I found the experience akin to getting Chinese food. It was cheap and good for the price, but now I find myself craving something with a bit more substance.
|+ Fun maze-building||– Easy to avoid being singled out in PvP|
|+ Skill-based PvP||– Inactive player base|
|– Challenging campaign becomes frustrating|