Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective Review
As children, hours drifted away as we scoured pages searching for the striped shirt, spectacle sporting man named Waldo. The intricate world packed with personality was delightful and allowed us to lose ourselves in a wonderful paper puzzle. Taking influence from the series, Pierre the Maze Detective evolved the formula adding clues, a narrative, and other elements, helping to make the book a hit with modern audiences. Now looking to take the franchise to the virtual realm, will Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective keep you glued to the Nintendo Switch?
Called to Opera City, you are tasked with tracking down Mr. X, the antagonist of the series, who has stolen a magical artifact from a museum. With this stone, he can transform the environment into complex, MC Escher-like mazes that you must decipher in order to capture the thief and reclaim the relic.
Your goal is simple, venture through beautiful landscapes to reach characters who are dotted throughout. Although they are often in plain sight, traversing the environment to reach them is not a simple task. Obstacles will block paths, hindering your progress, meaning you will have to take elaborate routes to get to your goal. Due to this, the game is steeped in trial and error as you try to find your way through the labyrinth.
Getting lost is part of the fun and never becomes tedious due to the luscious world you are pottering through. Wizards are scattered within the world and will guide you on your task by summoning arrows. Neatly and subtly, nestled within the background are hints and tips on where to go, ensuring that frustration never ensues during your adventure.
Each area is littered with detail, making your trip through the whimsical world an absolute joy. The dense, congested areas are inhabited by odd and diverse characters, all of which are entangled in some sort of minor narrative. It’s these little eccentricities that help to bring the picturesque city to life. Although most of the area is static, there are people you can talk to and odd environmental puzzles that require you to interact with particular objects in order to progress. Even though the objective remains the same throughout the game, I never grew tired during the relatively short runtime due to the incredible design that permeates throughout.
The beautiful hand-drawn art style is jaw-dropping and oozes charm. As if lifted directly from the page, Labyrinth City faithfully captures the franchise’s visuals and other ‘search and find’ puzzle books. Cutscenes are lovingly crafted to amplify the narrative. The comic book style framing helps to accentuate the storybook feel of the game, further anchoring the title with its source material. Adding to the endearing feel of the game is the upbeat, merry music that backs each step of your journey.
Fans of the series will recognize scenarios, as these have been taken directly from the books; however, this is a completely different way to experience the universe. Moving through paths on paper is nowhere near as immersive as in this interactive format. Going through one door only to emerge somewhere completely different on the map is always delightful and helps to add layers to the mysterious puzzle at hand. In addition, the dynamic camera has been excellently implemented to enhance the maze, zooming in and out at key moments and canvassing the world to make the objective clear to the gamer.
From the Page to the Screen
Darjeeling has successfully reinterpreted the famed children’s book series; however, some compromises have had to be made. Although it may appear like an open world, there are set paths that you must stay on, stifling exploration. The directed experience can be a little frustrating as you can feel too restricted at times. Although this does help to keep you on track and ensure you don’t get too lost, it does this at the detriment of freedom, making the game very guided.
Labyrinth City: Pierre, the Maze Detective, is an enjoyable experience that combines intelligent-level design and a charming art style. The lovely setting, packed with detail, is a joy to explore even though it lacks any real challenge. With several collectibles in each level, there is some replayability. However, I would be surprised if many revisit the game after completing it. That being said, each moment of the roughly 3-hour story was an absolute joy. Although a little repetitive, I loved perusing the world, inspecting the oddities, and marveling at the landscape. Fans of the franchise will be enamored with this interpretation of the books, and newcomers will fall in love with the world. Due to this, I would recommend getting lost in Labyrinth City.
*** A Nintendo Switch key provided by the publisher ***
- Incredibly Intricate Level Design
- Gorgeous Visuals
- A Relaxing Adventure
- A Little Repetitive
- Lacking Challenge
- Too Guided