When I was a kid, I would have loved to be on The Price Is Right. Granted I would have probably sucked at the pricing games (I’d probably even find a way to screw up Plinko), but I’m sure a lot of people would have loved to be on a game show at some point. Imagine if said game show had you navigating a maze of hedges, bushes, and mechanical hazards that tried to kill you. Welcome to Man in a Maze Deathmatch.
The goal of Man in a Maze Deathmatch is rather simple: traverse each “maze” while collecting all of the gems to open the gate out of the maze and onto the next maze…and maybe collect a fabulous prize in the process, courtesy of Man in a Maze Deathmatch (yes, they remind you of that every time you complete a maze). Each maze has enemies and traps you have to avoid or defeat (though defeating them isn’t required to leave the maze). You’ll also have to collect crystals that pop up in the maze and collecting all of them will allow you to leave that maze and move onto the next one. Lather, rinse, and repeat for 40+ mazes and you’re set.
In terms of the enemies and traps, they get introduced over time as the game progresses. You’ll begin with yellow bots that will chase you down if you get within their field of vision and soon move onto red bots that will downright gun you down if they spot you. There are also bots that will constantly home in on you and later on they’ll shoot plasma shots at you that are lethal to the touch. So with all of these bots running around while you’re collecting crystals throughout the mazes, surely you have some sort of weapon to deal with them, right?
Well, you do. You have a ball. Yep, a nice bouncy ball. You can aim the ball in any direction before throwing it and it’s useful for breaking open crates that contain coins and an occasional gear, both of which I’ll get into in a moment. However, alone the ball itself won’t do any damage to the bots unless it’s charged up. To charge up the ball you have to first hit a couple of pillars that will pop up after a certain number of crystals are collected, then once all of the pillars are lit up you’ll see a triangle in the room glow green. Walking over that triangle with the ball in your hands will charge up the ball, allowing you to destroy any bot with a single hit. However, the ball must be recharged between hits and the ball doesn’t return on its own, though you can purchase an upgrade that allows you to return the ball instantly.
The ball isn’t your only offensive tool however. While you get the ball automatically around the third stage or so, there are three more power-ups you can purchase: the Cloak, the Freeze-O-Matic, and the Mine. The Cloak will turn you invisible for a limited amount of time allowing you to pass through enemies harmlessly, the Freeze-O-Matic will temporarily freeze all bots on the screen, and the Mine will let you set…well, a mine to destroy bots when they run over it. You can use the coins you’ll find in the mazes to purchase upgrades for all four items such as extra uses of the items to actually refilling said slots since they don’t refill automatically, including the aforementioned auto-ball return upgrade.
I did mention something about gears as well as the coins a bit ago. Each stage has two extra goals to achieve beyond just getting out alive: a time goal and a gear goal. The time goal is achieved by escaping the maze before the timer at the top-left of the screen reaches zero (most of the time easier said than done), while the gear goal is achieved by getting every gear in the stage. Gears are found by breaking open crates (a few will contain a gear), collecting gears that pop up automatically during the course of the stage, and defeating enemies. Getting enough gears as well as beating enough times will open up new Bonus and Frenzy stages, the latter of which are basically some of the toughest stages to get through as the main goal is to defeat a certain number of enemies. You have no time limit though, it’s just a matter of staying alive while numerous bots attempt to gun you down. Not incredibly difficult, but definitely some of the most fun mazes in the game. In one you even get to take down bots with a machine gun. That was awesome.
On the whole, Man in a Maze: Deathmatch sounds like a fairly simple game to understand, and it is. It’s not without its faults however, and the first one I noticed was that the difficulty seems to waiver a bit. While a lot of the early stages are rather simple, as they should be, I’ve encountered later stages that were easy, the next one frustratingly difficult, and the next one was a bit more on the easier side. It’s not too terrible of an issue, but it does play into my next issue: the items and upgrades.
Outside of the Ball Return upgrade and a few extra slots for it, I never once bought any of the other items, and this harkens back to the difficulty. I never once encountered a maze that took me more than a few attempts to clear once I knew what was going on and how the bots AIs worked. A lot of the time you can manipulate the bots to go where you want them to, so as long as you just pay attention to what’s where, especially the red bots that will gun you down on sight, clearing the stages isn’t all that difficult with just the ball. Heck, if you’re aim is good and you’re quick enough you really don’t even need the ball return item, though I also bought the upgrade that shows where the ball will go when you aim it, which has proven really helpful.
What I would have done with the items was give you the items automatically throughout the course of the game, then just offer the upgrades. For instance, the main part of the game is broken down into four themed areas of ten stages each. I would have done five sets of ten with a new item being introduced in the first stage of the first four areas and having that item be essential to getting through. Once you hit the fifth area you’d have to put all of that to use to get through. The items wouldn’t be required to finish, but the stage would be that much more difficult. Then you have the Bonus and Frenzy stages which could put everything together as well, but make it much more difficult than the main stages. As it is, outside of the ball return, a few slots, and the aim-upgrade, I never spent a single coin on the other items because I’ve never need to use them.
Overall, Man in a Maze: Deathmatch isn’t a bad game by any means. In fact, given its cheesy gameshow-like nature (I mean, who smiles that much when going into a maze filled with deathtraps and bots), it is a pretty fun game. At the same time though it is something akin to what you would find on a mobile device, which is ironic because it can be bought on mobile devices (Apple devices to be precise). As such, $10 might be a bit much for it, but it’s still worth picking up if you can find it on sale or like these types of games. There is a bit of replayability to open up all of the Bonus and Frenzy stages, but outside of a few frustrating stages, the game didn’t seem all that difficult and the items never really came into play for me outside of the ball which is required. It bit on the easy side, but one I’m still glad I got the chance to play.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.