The Game: Reiner Knizia’s Labyrinth
The Device: Droid X
The Price: Free (ad-supported) on Android, $0.99 on iOS
The Basics: Famed board game designer Reiner Knizia has an absurd number of titles under his belt- over 500 and counting. He’s made acclaimed board games of every possible style, from the abstract Ingenious to the HeroClix Star Trek Expeditions to the innovative co-op Lord of the Rings board game that came out in 2000. So when he turned to mobile games, fans were excited to see what he would come up with, and in that field he’s been as prolific as you’d expect.
Of his many games already available for iOS and Android (ClusterMaster! City of Secrets! Samurai! Deck Buster 100! Money! Etc., etc., etc.) Labyrinth is perhaps the best.
The Review: If you’ve played Carcassonne, the great tile-laying board game, this plays almost like a solitaire version of that. Your whole goal is to make a safe path from the entrance at the bottom of a map to the exit at the top. The game board is laid out on a 4X4 grid in which you place randomly drawn tiles that have various patterns of walls and items on them. You choose a tile, pick a place to put it and then rotate it to connect your path. You’ve got to make sure not to block off your exit while hopefully blocking off the various mosnters that inhabit the tiles.
Making a path to the end isn’t hard but getting there without getting killed by monsters, and with the most treasure for a high score, is the real challenge. Every time you connect a monster to your path you lose a Sword (life counter), of which you only start off with three. Fortunately Swords can be found on tiles as well, and connecting them to your path lets you deal with more monsters before you lose the game. Treasure chests are also scattered around, giving you points that only really matter for your high score at the end.
It’s really a clever little puzzle game. The trick is to get the path to the exit set up first and then worry about getting all the treasure you can. Swords are imperative if you want to get to the end of the scenario, because later tiles come almost completely littered with monsters.
Three scenarios (Hedge Maze, Castle Ruins, and Dungeons) offer increasing challenges, with new enemies showing up later on, although the basics stay the same. There’s not a whole lot of variety here. The random tiles do ensure that the game is different every time you play but it might irritate some gamers who don’t like luck mixed in with their strategy. This game is all about the draw.
Labyrinth is a lot of fun, but it’s also fleeting. Once you have made your way through all the scenarios there’s no real reason to go back. Even the high scores don’t offer much of an incentive because unless you let your friends play the game on your phone you’ll only be competing against yourself. An online leaderboard of some sort would have given this puzzle game much more replay value.
The Final Grade: B-