Part 2: Level One: Into The MazeLevel One: Into The Maze
And now to the actual game. Entering puts us here, at the very start of the very first maze of the MadMaze. In spite of the attempts at shadows and cracks in the walls and a pseudo-3D first-person perspective, the mazes are fairly plain. As I mentioned before, the main variations we'll be watching for are wall color and time of day. These slight variations offer some clue as to which maze we're in. This maze has blue walls and is set during the day, so until we encounter different we're actually going to be inside the same "part" of the maze. Sometimes you'll spend quite a while in the same part, despite passing through multiple Places of Power.
But before that, let's get used to actually maneuvering in the maze. I mentioned this in the rules, but let's try a "real" example. The game starts us in a four-way intersection right away, but we can't actually go back. That's because the "wall is closing in behind," as the game helpfully points out. However, we can go any other direction. But given that we have no idea what we're doing, where should we go?
Since we're in a maze, we actually have quite a few ways to approach this. All mazes in MadMaze are simply connected, meaning the paths are all connected to the outer boundary. A popular trick for solving mazes like this is the "wall follower" method, which is fairly simple: Put your hand on one wall and do not remove your hand from that wall, going wherever the path takes you until you reach an exit.
This method essentially works in MadMaze. If you prioritize going either left or right whenever possible and only going ahead or back (or the other direction) when you have no alternative, you'll eventually reach a Place of Power. However, "a" Place of Power is the key; this method might cause you to skip some important clues by missing Places of Power. There's a way around that, which we'll get to, but the takeaway is that having some methodology is important.
But far, far more important is actually remembering how the maze connects together. There's no automap, so that means mapping manually. Now, let's combine these two processes and start moving... let's say... right.
Okay. We've turned right from where we were. If we were facing north before, we're now facing east and staring down a dead end. We'll mark that dead end, then turn around and go back since we can't do anything else.
Which should put us back where we were, only facing west... but something's missing. Where is the path to the south?
Remember that the wall was closing in. This is what this square of the maze looks like once it has closed. It was always a north/east/west junction, it just didn't look like it when we were facing it from the south (a direction that doesn't actually exist, as far as the game is concerned).
So disregard that. We know we were here before, turned right and hit a dead end. So we know if we go back, we'll be at the dead end again. If we're maintaining our "wall follower" strategy, we'd go right again here and find... another dead end. Then back here, we'd turn right (which, in the orientation of the screenshot, would be ahead), and find another junction.
I'll spare you the full rundown and simply show you the map now.
Here we are: The first section of the first level of the MadMaze. We start at the bottom, in a fairly small section of the maze. There's little way to avoid eventually stumbling upon the first Place of Power in the game, which lies to the west. We can also see that there are actually three Places of Power in this section. Until we pass the third, the color of the maze won't change, meaning we're in the same rough area until then.
This tells us something fairly useful: Mazes in the first level are 5 squares by 5 squares. That means there's a maximum of 25 traversible squares in each section, and we'll be able to tell if we've fully mapped a section if it conforms to a 5x5 square.
This maze is not the least bit difficult to solve, as it's mostly meant to funnel you through a sequence of Places of Power that teach you interaction, finding clues, and applying them. So that's what we'll be doing next. Off to the only Place of Power we can actually get to, then!
As soon as we move into the square marked with the exclamation point...
Next Time: Sage Wisdom, Wicked Witches, & Internet Trolls Circa 1990