When do you give up, and when do you keep trying? Sometimes it seems like a good idea to throw in the towel and save yourself the strain of a losing battle. But what if you're fighting for something incredibly important? What if it's your own life? In Labyrinthine Dreams, a free narrative puzzle from Solest Games, a very sick young woman named Beth faces this choice. Is it really so bad to give up, or is fighting worth it even when you're unlikely to win?
Labyrinthine Dreams is a game about mazes—metaphorically, in that Beth's still trying to understand her life and how she got to this point, but literally too. Each level is made up of several examples of a different type of maze. Sometimes you won't be able to turn in certain direction, or you'll be on a grid where each spot has its own set of directional limitations. Sometimes you'll be able to go wherever you want, but on an invisible path or a slippy floor. At the end of each level, you'll need to run away from the monster inhabiting Beth's dreams. Like what it represents, it more than outmatches you physically, but you're a thinking person and it's an inhuman force. With a little clever thinking, you'll be able to outwit it.
Though the graphics are simple, they're charming and look nicely polished. The mazes are well-designed, too. Though they may be challenging, the rules are always clear, and the different twists on your standard maze keep the experience feeling fresh. Unfortunately, if mazes aren't your thing, the gameplay here doesn't have much else to offer. Another big draw of Labyrinthine Dreams is probably its story, which is both well-written and respectful about the subject matter. It's more mellow than you usually see in game writing, which, in addition to the gameplay choices, makes it worth checking out just by virtue of its uniqueness. Some of the relationships in Beth's life could have been better fleshed out, since relationships are really what this game is all about. Perhaps more exploration scenes (which felt underused) could have helped?
Still, Labyrinthine Dreams is a quality game. Short but sweet, it won't take up too much of your day, and it's nice to see developers try something different. This is definitely one to try for anyone who enjoys a good maze, or prefers a more human-experience sort of story in their games.
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