Books are a popular source material for many video games. From Sherlock Holmes to The Witcher, there’s a plethora of genres and stories to choose from. However, one series that I didn’t expect to get an adaptation was a children’s maze puzzle book. Yet, here we are, with Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective, freshly released on Nintendo Switch after its debut on Steam in June. So, is this game a-maze-ing or does it get lost in the chase?
The story of Labyrinth City is fairly straightforward, as this is clearly intended to be a kids’ game. You follow the titular Pierre the Maze Detective as he chases the villainous Mr. X across Opera City, seeking to retrieve the Maze Stone that Mr. X stole from the museum, which turns everything into mazes. While it’s explained that Pierre is a maze detective because he’s good at mazes, it’s not explained what he does for the rest of the year when his city is not turned into a giant puzzle by a mystical artifact.
Accompanying Pierre is his steadfast and very pink friend Carmen, and the two bravely chase Mr. X across a variety of landscapes, from the city proper to a foreign bazaar to an entire settlement of treehouses in the forest. Each location is unique and packed full of fun things to see and explore as you move through the maze, ensuring that you always have something interesting catching your eye. There are 10 levels in total, and each level also has 3 stars to find, four pages from Mr. X’s journal, and four treasure chests.
Once per level you will also run across a polar bear who will direct you to the puzzle for the level. Complete the puzzle and win a trophy, and if you have a hard go of it you can try as many times as you like. They’re fairly simple, like repeating a sequence of actions, matching cards, or turning wheels around to make a picture, but it’s a nice break to focus on something other than the mazes for a few minutes.
Labyrinth City is clearly a video game aimed at kids, as the Pierre the Maze Detective book series is. It’s not difficult for an adult, but it’s still pretty fun to play through, especially if you challenge yourself to find all the stars or collectibles in each level, which can take quite some time. Personally, I’d probably hand over the Switch to a kid on a road trip and let them have at it. It’s not a game that requires intense amounts of concentration, even for children, but it’s entertaining and attention-grabbing.
The biggest problem I found with Labyrinth City is the quite frankly bizarre depictions spread across almost all the levels. A stereotypical Native American is a recurring character, headdress and all, and he constantly spouts naturalistic wisdom. There are also several images of animals, implied to be sentient, collared and chained or locked up in cages, as well as ghosts whose heads look a little too close to KKK hats for my own personal comfort. The black market visited by Pierre and Carmen is also an old-time bazaar, populated almost entirely by people who appear to be middle eastern and Asian/south-Asian, which was immediately apparent. None of these depictions seem to be done in malice, but they all came across as extremely odd to appear in a kids’ game.
When Pierre and Carmen transition from one level to the next, there’s a short animated comic playing, narrated by a perky-sounding female voice, done in a stereotypical “kids voiceover” way. It’s cute and it’s a nice way to transition from level to level, breaking up the story. The art for the comics, like the levels, is well done and mirrors that of the original book series perfectly.
Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective might not be the next Professor Layton, but it’s a nice, fun game to play whilst you turn off your brain. For kids, it’s much more entertaining and a great way to kill a few hours on a road trip or otherwise, and it’s a nice change of pace to see a kids’ game amidst this sea of more teen and adult-oriented games. After all, it’s important for children to have fun too!
TechRaptor reviewed Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective on Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on PC and releasing for iOS and Android.
- Beautiful Art That Looks Just Like the Books
- Plenty of Collectibles Make It Worth Replaying
- Some Strange and Non-Kosher Depictions of Cultures and Animals