‘Magic Maze’ Board Game Review: Simple & Quick, But Dull

Hi guys, I’m here again with another board game review brought to you by AnyGames, and this time, it is a quick and simple game called Magic Maze. Magic Maze is a real-time cooperative game where the players are fantasy characters that break into a mall to steal some adventuring equipment and escape before the time runs out. Additionally, the players can’t talk to each other, and the only way to signal to each other for help is provided by the game. It is a silent and quick game played between 2 to 4 players.

Like always, I preface the review by saying that the game is new to us and we have not heard of the game prior to us playing it. We have played silent games and we have played real-time cooperative games before, but this is something new to us. Therefore, I am going into the game completely blind without knowing the rules outside of reading the manual and playing the game a few times before writing this review.

The Game

The game starts by letting the players choose a colour of their choice, signifying their character classes in the fantasy setting. The players will then get a “Movement Tile” with arrows telling the players where they can move their meeple, and most of the tiles have some special actions.

The players than place their meeples on the starting “Mall Tile” and shuffle the rest of the stack of “Mall Tiles” according to the scenario provided by the game. The goal of the game is to get the player meeples to the equipment spaces somewhere in the “Mall Tile” and after all meeples are in that space, they have to head to the exit as quickly as possible. All this while time is running against them, as they will be caught when time runs out and lose the game.

Once the Timer is flipped signifying the start of the game, everyone will silently move their meeple around the mall according to the Movement Tiles and open up more Mall Tiles as they go to certain squares. Each Mall Tile has squares that takes one movement and some squares have certain icons that allow the players either to open new Mall Tiles, Teleport, add more time or Escalators, while the players look for their Equipment square. Once the players have reached their Equipment Square, it is time to look for the Exit square and head for it.

Later in the scenarios, the players will then learn that each character has their own abilities like the Elf that can talk after revealing new tiles, the Dwarf that can go through certain passages, the Barbarian that can turn off security cameras, and the Mage that can reveal new Mall Tiles anywhere in the mall. Each scenario also ramps up the difficulty with new securities, an exit for each character, and other problems the players will have to silently face.

What did I like?

The game is very quick to learn, set up, and play as there are not many pieces to the game itself and the rules are self-explanatory. The game also brings something new, being a silent cooperative game where you have to work with each other as a team, yet cannot communicate with talking.

Again, only talking is prohibited, thus the players can use other methods to express their communication with each other like eye twitches, hand gestures, or other funny movements while being quick and witty about it. As the players play along, I am sure there will be comedic grunts and noises coming out of the players’ frustration trying to communicate while also keeping silent.

The game as mentioned is easy to learn, especially with how the scenarios are laid out for the players. As mentioned, as the players get further into the scenarios, they learn new aspects about the game including security cameras, abilities, and other rules that are laid out to them handily.

The game also gets more interesting as the scenario progresses as the Mall Tiles starts to shift and turn with different obstacles for the players to silently overcome. It is a great game for four players and can even go up to eight with expansions that makes a great silent game for big group of players.

What didn’t I like?

I admit, I am little picky when it comes to board games, as there are a variety of games out there, be it serious board games like Castle Ravencroft or party games like Exploding Kittens. Picking a good one among them becomes difficult as these developers try out new things. Alas, although I think this is a good attempt at a silent cooperative game, in my opinion it has failed to do so.

One of the reasons being the sand timer, where the players are pressured to decide what to do and where to go, that there is no time to even consider the actions of the other players. Even more so when there plenty of Mall Tiles to explore and each action requires one step of a square on a Mall Tile, which constrains the time of each player, leaving out room for any meaningful communication. It took my group four attempts to beat the first scenario and it was not because of a miscommunication, but because there was no communication at all during the given time.

The game pieces are simple; in fact, too simple, as the meeples are just cones with colours instead of pieces that represent your character. Sometimes, I as a player got confused about which was my cone. I had to move and remember the colour, while at the same time, be quick in my actions and witty enough to communicate with the other players silently. In my opinion, although it was a good idea, a cooperative game should not be silent as the players have to communicate in order to try to win the game with the best possible methods.

The Verdict

Overall, it was a good attempt for a different kind of cooperative game with a solid idea that the players have to communicate silently on what to do, but it is stifled by the Timer aspect of the game. It is a great game to try out at a boardgame store or cafe, but not one I recommend buying for yourself. I give it a 2 out of 10 pies.

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