You don't know why you came to this place, the Labyrinth. Oh there are foggy recollections, romantic tales of daring do and narrow escapes and riches beyond the dreams of mortals. There was also laughing and music and other adventurers clapping each other heartily on the back.
And mead, of course. You realize that your worst decisions always seem to involve mead.
You focus upon the task at hand. Get in, get the treasure and get out. Simple, yes? Only, the Labyrinth is no child's maze and its twists and turns have swallowed up many a greedy treasure seeker. Worse still is this cursed place's resident demon, the Minotaur. Half bull, half man, this beast is more clever than the Sphinx by a hundred-fold, and he has laid his puzzles and riddles throughout the dark twisting tunnels.
This is not your average dungeon crawl, but instead an online riddle, similar to not pr0n, or God Tower, only with more than a few twists and turns to set it apart, and a horde of fiendish puzzles that just may trap you for eternity.
If you've never played an online riddle before, this is how it goes. You are presented with a single page with a picture or some sort of central image that could include words, numbers, grids, etc. From that and the title, you must deduce a password in order to proceed to the next level. You can just guess, but be careful. You only have a limited number of tries for any one level before you are locked out for a brief spell. This serves to deter people randomly guessing their way through the game, as well as giving you time to think about the problem and rework it properly before trying again.
So, what is your fate to be? Will you emerge from the Labyrinth victorious, treasure in hand? Or will you crawl out, thankful to have your very life? Or will you, like so many others, fall victim to the Minotaur's devices, never to be heard from again?
Analysis: There are a ton of online riddles on the internet, and we tend not to feature them, but the Labyrinth stands out in so many ways and is so well done that it was destined to find its way here. In fact, there are three principle ways in which it deviates from the norm.
The focus of online riddles tends to be on intensive Google searches, high-end image manipulation, and even a little HTML usage. In the Labyrinth you'll definitely find yourself on Google a few times, and you'll have to manipulate some images, but you won't have to mess with HTML, the searches rarely get in-depth, and all image manipulation can be done easily enough in MS Paint. No, the focus of this riddle lies in code breaking and logic, which makes it more accessible to people who may not have supplemental skills, while at the same time opening new avenues of mental challenge. You'll find that you'll spend more time with scratch paper and home-made models than you will with a search engine.
The second thing is the community and support provided in the forums. Spark Plug, the game's designer, did an outstanding job of making the Labyrinth as self-contained as an online riddle can be, and that includes the extensive versatility of the forums. There, you can not only find hints on individual levels, but also a general beginner's guide, as well as FAQs about codebreaking using traditional ciphers. In a stroke of genius, you can also form teams, and a quick PM to Spark Plug will net you and your partners your very own forum, where you are granted virtually unlimited freedom to discuss the puzzles and post answers. The site's staff may even drop by to nudge you along when you and your mates get stuck.
But the real genius of the Labyrinth is the fact that it is, in fact, a Labyrinth. There is no map, but the puzzles are organized in a non-linear format, complete with dead ends and loop-arounds. On a practical level, this means that just because you solved a puzzle once doesn't mean that you won't have to go back and solve it again with new information. This is where Spark Plug's true brilliance shines through. It is simply amazing that a puzzle that may have occupied you for weeks has an alternate solution that you didn't even see the first time around. In other situations, you will return to a puzzle and with only slight alterations come up with significantly different answers.
All of this adds up to an experience that is unlike any other. Don't expect to have this done in a day, or even a week, and I think it would take an exceptional mind to conquer this challenge on one's own. But when all is said and done, the frustration and the work is more than worth it, to finally come back out of the Labyrinth, treasure in hand.
Oh, yeah, and if you thought that was easy, there's a sequel that's harder than the first.
(NOTES: First, this game does require registration, but you won't be asked any sensitive information. Also, in order to maintain the integrity of the puzzle, please do not post any blatant answers or methodologies here, and please do not link to any walkthroughs or answers on a different site. Trust me, this kind of stuff ruins the experience for everyone involved and does the game's creator a great disservice. Questions and hints of a gently nudging nature are encouraged.)