Mind Maze (Xbox One) Review with stream

Mind Maze is a simple puzzle game where you and your opponent alternate placing lines on a tiled grid.  The player who completes the square, essentially the 4th line, gets a point and another immediate turn. In other words, it is exactly the same pen and paper game called Dots And Boxes only here it is digital and the boards are different shapes as opposed to a standard large square.

Like playing Dots And Boxes at recess with your classmates, this game pretty much comes down the final move. Both players alternate turns until there are no placements left, giving the opposing player a huge combo of boxes to complete.  The AI, regardless of the difficulty setting, can easily destroy you if you do not compensate for this in some way.  There are times when the AI seems like its feels bad and will occasionally place a line to not complete a box when it easily could.  Just don’t expect much mercy on the higher settings.

While the AI difficulty situation can be excused (there are only so many moves anyone can do when the board is almost full) the biggest gripe actually comes from the play control.  Since the player is controlling a cursor, highlighting where the line will be placed, it gets really awkward when Up doesn’t move Up.  Instead, it might move to the Right.  Or pressing Right might actually move the cursor Down.  There doesn’t seem to be any consistency with the directional taps and it never goes in the position you want.  In fact, you might need to press a combination of directions to simply select the top area of the box, for example. Figuring out the cursor control can actually be more difficulty than trying to best the AI. If this digital download had better cursor control, a very simple task, it would immediately be a way better and more fun game to play.

The Tron-like visual appeal leans into the whole sci-fi theme in which they are aiming and the soundtrack also makes the player feel like they are playing on a game board that has been placed somewhere in outer space.  Unfortunately, each musical track skips a beat when it loops and happens quite often, so it ruins the overall presentation a bit.

Even with the low cost, the cool Tron visuals, and hot-seat multiplayer mode for up to eight players, Mind Maze is nothing more than a board game with unintuitive play control.  Although there are a few easy, big point Achievements to snag, you might be better off using pen and paper or checking out Dots And Boxes on Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics on Switch.

Also available on Switch, PS4, PS Vita, and PS5.

SCORE: 4/10

Also Play: any of the three Active Neurons games
Don’t Forget About: the free demo of Clubhouse Games on Switch  
Play It Instead: Arkan: The Dog Adventurer  

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief
Twitter: @ZackGaz
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