To be perfectly honest, I can’t say I ever expected a fully-blown dots-and-boxes game to make it to market. Yes, dots-and-boxes. Otherwise known as squares, it’s that game you and a friend probably played when you were bored in class.
If you’ve never played dots-and-boxes before, let me give you a quick rundown. Each person takes turns placing lines on a board, with the ultimate aim of taking squares. Take a square and you can place another line. The winner is the person who has the most squares.
Apparently pen and paper doesn’t cut it anymore. Mind Maze aims to offer the latest and greatest in dots-and-boxes action, but for the new generation by letting you play it on console.
I didn’t expect much. But I was pleasantly surprised.
For a game that consists of placing lines, Mind Maze is actually pretty decent. And considering the concept it’s based on, that’s some achievement.
The variety of the boards is astounding, and the high point of the game. In the campaign alone, there’s fifty grids, and even more are available in the quick play portion of the game. Forget the standard square grid you’re accustomed to. In Mind Maze, you’ll be placing squares on all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes.
The strategy doesn’t change much as you’re still just making squares, but these grids do help to stretch out the entertainment at least somewhat.
Similarly, the AI puts up a decent challenge, and it’s actually very rare that you can run away with games. Don’t get me wrong, the AI still makes some absolutely bone-headed moves – like completely missing some squares – but on the whole, I was satisfied by the quality of it.
Ultimately though, I feel like the concept limits Mind Maze from being a truly great game because the concept itself isn’t particularly entertaining. You can only play so many games of dots-and-boxes before things get a little tedious and a little repetitive, no matter how uniquely shaped the grid you’re playing on is. There aren’t any other majorly different game modes, so once you’ve played Mind Maze once, you’ve essentially seen all there is to see.
There is a campaign, but prepare to be disappointed. It’s not a story mode. Instead, it simply consists of playing dots-and-boxes over and over on larger and larger boards. The Triplex option is the exact same too, except that the boards are slighter larger and in weirder shapes.
The only real saving grace is the option of local multiplayer. Playing against an actual person does have the potential to turn Mind Maze into a decent enough casual experience. Of course, you’ll need some friends to play with, and asking them to come round to play dots-and-boxes might be a potentially hard sell.
I also found the controls to be frustrating at times. On larger grids, games quickly grind to a halt as moving across the board is ridiculously slow. It becomes even worse when the AI decides to instantly place a line as far away from you as possible and you have to slog over there to build off of it.
For the concept, Mind Maze is probably the best game on the market. Unfortunately, dots-and-boxes isn’t particularly entertaining. It doesn’t do much wrong, but Mind Maze needs more game modes and variety to really excel. Unless you’ve got a friend to play with, expect only a few games of entertainment out of this one.
Challenge your mind in an enthralling game of dots-and-boxes – find Mind Maze over on the Xbox Store