Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective
Genre(s): Casual, Hidden Object, Adventure
Platform: Switch (also available on Steam)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 15/07/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Finding Your Way
It’s been a long and stressful couple of years, and finding distractions has been a difficult business. The most effective games I’ve found have fallen into one of two categories. My first category includes involved games that require you to pay attention, like The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk. As for the second, it’s been peaceful, hand-drawn games like Wind Peaks.
Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective falls firmly into that second category. Based on a children’s book series, Labyrinth City tasks you with tracking down the nefarious Mr X, who’s stolen the Maze Stone. If he’s not stopped, Mr X will turn the entire world into a giant labyrinth.
Honestly, that’s probably not the worst fate – Labyrinth City is a fun game, and more of it would be quite welcome.
Lost & Found
At first glance, Labyrinth City looks an awful lot like Where’s Wally? – however, while it does involve looking for hidden objects, it works in a different way. As the name suggests, the levels are all mazes, and you need to navigate each while keeping an eye out for treasure chests and other concealed items.
Levels are also littered with interactive features. Some will help you on your way, such as using magnets to pull wrench-wielding mechanics out of your path. Others are just flavour, like activating a mechanism that sends a nearby turret rocketing off into space.
Each level also has its own minigame, ranging from helping a caged gorilla grab flying bananas to dodging timed waterspouts to reach your target. While I may have had a minor bit of trouble with the balloon-blowing one, they’re still lighthearted bits of fun.
I mention that specifically because Labyrinth City is, as I said at the start, a peaceful game. While the mazes do go up in complexity little by little, they avoid being frustrating, and this makes the game a pleasure to play after a long and difficult day at work.
Searching in Style
Of course, I shouldn’t really ignore the actual target audience – it’s based on a children’s book series after all! Each level is introduced by a colourful comic book cutscene that’s very much in the style of old children’s cartoons. The sense of humour is gentle, and even the main bad guy seems mostly just eager to have somebody to play games with.
It’s also peppered with references, many of which I recognised, and some of which I expect I missed! I do have to dock the game five points for the “arrow to the knee” reference, which I guess puts the review at -1…
Well, since we don’t have an image handy for that score, I guess I’ll let it pass this time.
Visually, Labyrinth City perfectly captures the style of the books. Admittedly, I don’t own them, but I did take a look and it’s a faithful recreation of what I saw online! Everything is animated nicely, and there’s a particular charm to its style – lying somewhere between Where’s Wally? and Professor Layton.
Now it’s time to tear the game apart. Or, well, I would, but there’s really not all that much to complain about. I suppose I should note the following, just for informational value:
Labyrinth City is not particularly long, and the replay value isn’t all that high. I didn’t find any extra modes on completing the game with all the hidden items, so unless I missed anything, you’re restricted to the ten levels.
However, I should point out that the game sells for roughly the same price as the book, which seems fair!
Performance-wise, the game largely behaved, but I did notice it struggling in a few of the busier scenes, especially if the camera was panned out.
The Route of the Problem
Speaking of the camera, I didn’t find a way to zoom in – just to zoom out. Some of the details can be a bit tricky to see at times, though I guess you can always just step closer to the TV…
As for the rest of the controls, moving around can be a little odd. Rather than just running wherever you want, it feels like Pierre is locked onto invisible rails (generally hinted at by lighter floor surfaces). While this is generally fine, it can be a bit wonky at times, especially where there are crossroads.
It’s difficult for me to explain why it doesn’t quite feel natural, but the very opening of the game is probably a good example. You start out on an open path into the museum, but you can only move directly up or down. If you try to move Pierre to the right, for example, he’ll either stop dead or awkwardly slide up or down.
This isn’t a game-breaker, but just something I felt could have been done a bit better. Hopefully, there will be a sequel with a touch more freedom!
Oh, and it’s really not a very difficult game. Some items can be a bit trickier than others to find, but if you’re here for some sort of mind-breakingly complicated maze to wander in for hours, you’ll be horribly disappointed.
A Great Find
Overall, I found Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective to be a pleasant and soothing experience. While it’s not the longest or most challenging game, it offers a fun way to pass the time. It’s the kind of game you can play, forget, and then revisit a few months down the line and enjoy all over again.
4 out of 5
You can purchase Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.