Published on February 27th, 2017 | by Dean Love0
City Mazes, Oxford – Star Breaker
Our first two experiences at City Mazes were average games each marred by one huge problem, so I’m happy to say that the third and final room we played at least manages not to have some huge cock-up in it. It also has two pretty good puzzles. Unfortunately those two puzzles are literally all it has.
In Star Breaker you’re trying to enter the cosmos and see the meaning of life. Yeah, me neither. Again, it’s a game of two distinct halves, with two distinct settings. This time each half has but a single puzzle. To be fair, they are somewhat involved puzzles, in each case once you’ve figured out what to do you’re solving four variations on that puzzle, then taking a final step to put everything together.
The first of those puzzles is in a narrow but long room – it uses the space well, and it factors into the puzzle in a neat way, requiring some good teamwork to do it with any sort of efficiency. But said puzzle itself isn’t too interesting. The second room is a lot more impressive, with a properly huge mechanical puzzle making up the centerpiece of the room, with a couple of other things dotted around. And it’s a good puzzle, being fairly straightforward but requiring a certain logical leap at one point which works well.
But you solve that, and you’re done. I’ve written two paragraphs and have already explained every single puzzle in the game. In many ways I’ve spoiled too much. So I don’t know how to write anything more about this room. Two rooms, two puzzles, out in about half an hour. They were good puzzles though.
City Mazes in general seems to be an odd operation. Doing some post-game research, they have 11 games spread over two sites. Those games are all apparently designed by a single person. And in all three games we played there were good ideas and good puzzles. I can’t help but think if they focused their design efforts on three or four games and replicated those games across all their sites, putting in all the good stuff and cutting out the chaff and adapting and refining the games based on player feedback, they’d have a really strong offering. As it is, the good ideas are spread too thinly. But a game that started with the split team communications challenge of Control Room 54, moved onto a room using the setting and environment of Pandora’s Escape and ended with the same final puzzle as Star Breaker would be a damn good room. There are great concepts here, they’ve just not been turned into great rooms.
Result – we escaped in around half an hour
Date played: 29 October 2016
Team: Dean, Jim, Andy, Jamie, Sam
Summary: Two strong puzzles, but literally nothing else. A good room but you'll either beat it quickly, or get frustrated just banging your head against the two puzzles for an hour.