Magic Maze - Tile Game Review

Magic Maze is a, hmm, well it’s a real-time, manic, cooperative exploration game. It uses variable player powers in the form of what direction each player can move the pieces. Looking for a family weight co-op game with some utter insanity thrown in, read on dear fellow tabletop gamer.

So the story to Magic Maze is a bit of fun. A mage, elf, warrior and dwarf lose all their gear and need to hit the mall (yeah, the mall) in an effort to replace all their gear. Problem is it’s a magic maze mall, so players need to work together in real-time to move through the mall, open new areas, locate each characters item and then the exit.

If you can’t picture it imagine a tile game, you move to exits on the side of a tile, flip a new tile, connect it and continue opening up new tiles until the mall is complete. On certain tiles a particular characters item will reside, you need to get that character to that spot on that tile. Traversing corridors and at times an escalator to get there for each character. You then need to get to the exit.

Here’s the thing though, each player can only move in certain directions and do certain things. For example perhaps you can only move characters up, someone else will be able to move them down, someone left and someone right (and there’s an escalator and portal move also). You now have to do all this within a tight time limit and whilst unable to speak to one another, nor motion hints at the play area. There’s no ‘turns’, just frantic grab a pawn an move it mayhem. There is one saving grace, there’s an extra large player piece that you can place in front of a player who is missing they need to “move my damn character already!”… ahem.

I don’t like using other games as a comparison in reviews, because what if you haven’t played that particular game, however for those who have played Escape: Curse of the Temple, this sort of rush / discover gameplay will be familiar. Unlike Escape though you’re waiting on all the other players to move you in the directions you need to go.

The components in Magic Maze are great, sturdy tiles not only for the maze / mall itself, but also for the various player power movement tiles too. Four player pawns that you can sticker with different weapon icons denoting each piece (to aid color blind players, so it’s a nice thought). There’s a 3-minute sand-timer, some X-tokens for use on the board when you utilise a time space (enabling you to flip the sand timer) and of course some rules (that are really easy to understand). There’s not a lot to it, but what is there is good quality. The artwork on the mall tiles is also super cute, though I'm still not sure why it's a mall and not a maze in a dungeon, but that's a personal gripe.

Overall I’ve really enjoyed all the games of Magic Maze I’ve played so far, it’s absolute mayhem and there’s been a lot of laughs for the most part. Not everyone I’ve played with has felt the same level of love for the game I have, but we all agree it’s different, simple and even a bit of a brain burner at times. There’s no downtime, it’s fast to play and easy as pie to teach. Definitely a game you should try and check out, it didn’t get nominated in this years Spiel des Jahres for nothing.

As far as I'm aware out sponsor The Big Game Theory is going to be stocking Magic Maze, so head on over to their store to order it.