I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word Labyrinth, my first thought goes to that classic 80’s Jim Henson/David Bowie film, where the main character is trying to rescue her baby brother by navigating a magical maze. The game I’m reviewing today does have a bit of a fantasy magical maze setting and was actually first made about the same time in the 80’s, but it is nothing to do with that film. Incidentally, there is a board game based on that movie that was released recently (in 2016), and apparently although the art and components are great, the game is terrible.
Since the Labyrinth game I’m writing about today was first released a few decades ago, a lot of people regard it as a classic from their childhood. I had actually never played it before this year, but after doing so I can see why people like it!
Now, to the game. This one is for 1-4 players and aimed at a slightly younger audience. Probably anyone from 6-plus could play, so it’s a great one for families with smaller kids. The unique thing about the game is the board, which is a card background with several evenly spaced out maze tiles glued to it. During the setup, you take more maze tiles and place them at random between the fixed ones to make a new unique maze every time! There are enough tiles in the box to fill the whole board, plus one extra.
Throughout the maze there are pictures of various magical items. There’s also a pack of cards with these same items. Each player gets a share of these cards, and the aim of the game is to traverse the maze and be the first to collect all of your items and return home.
Now for the cool part – on your turn, because of that extra tile, you need to push that tile into the maze horizontally or vertically, shifting all the tiles in a whole row or column and changing the layout of the maze! You want to do this in a way that makes it easier to get to your treasure, by opening up a path or literally moving it closer. Also on your turn you can move through the maze as far as you like, as long as there is an open path.
This maze changing mechanic gives the players a good feeling of power, as it can significantly change the board and may help or hinder other players. This also creates a good amount of engagement for the other players, as they need to keep an eye on where their objective is and change their plans of how to get there every turn. Players also need to use their brains in trying to work out the path and visualising how the maze will change if a whole row or column is shifted, so I guess it has a bit of an educational side to it too (like a lot of other games, see another of my blogs).
So, as I mentioned, we have had this game less than a year now. We generally get it out to either play with our kids (aged 6 to 10), or if the kids have friends over it is a great option for a quick to play, easy to learn game. Due to the moving maze element it can get frustrating for some players if others are getting a lot of items and they keep being blocked from theirs, but overall it is a lot of fun and definitely a good classic game to have in your collection if you have a young family!