Game Design, Game Reviews

Game Review: Mabo – “just” a great game, could’ve been much more

mabo_iconIndie games are all about innovation and entertainment, and after a few hours spent with Mabo I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this game has both in abundance.

Available on Google PlayAvailable on iTunesIt has everything an indie mobile game should have – it’s simple, throws you right into action, the levels are short and sweet, it looks decent and most importantly – it’s creative.

Mabo is a puzzle game created by Andrei Ichim for both Android and iOS platforms. It features a randomly generated maze through which you must navigate and complete set tasks.

Creativity at its finest

There are a number of different tasks a player must complete in order to pass a level – that’s either collecting a set amount of stars scattered around the maze, escorting various NPCs (non-player controlled units) through the maze from point A to point B, destroying enemies by using certain power-ups, escaping the maze itself, and lots and lots of other tasks.

Such variety in the game, paired with the fact that the maze is randomly generated, makes the game extremely entertaining and captivating. Even though an average level doesn’t last more than a couple of minutes (sometimes even under a minute), I have managed to catch myself playing the game for hours straight.

The whole maze thing also has a crucial twist – as you might have figured out from the game’s screenshots, the maze is actually spherical in its shape. This is extremely important, as the sphere blocks the view of the entire maze, sometimes forcing you to go blindly, as one should – when entering a maze.

Visuals and music

screenshot

The sphere opens a completely new dimension to the game

I was quite surprised to see visuals done with decent quality, even though that’s not what the game is all about. It’s a puzzle game, where the emphasis should (and really is) on the mind-boggling, but the developer invested a decent amount of time to create a game that is also pleasing to the eye.

I must, however, point out that, similar to some other games I’ve reviewed recently, this one also features the Apple/Google commercial-style audio and I can’t help myself, but wait for someone to start selling me a smartwatch every time I run the game. I’d seriously consider changing the background music to something less hip, upbeat, solo-ukulele thing.

The upkeep

In terms of monetisation and how the game pays for itself, the developer has decided to go for the classic, proven method of ads and in-game purchases. The game’s progress is locked, meaning you can either play the game to keep unlocking new content, or pay to unlock everything at once. I honestly don’t know why you would want to pay upfront for things you’re going to get for free eventually, but people are different, I guess.

There’s also a way not to lose your progress if you fail mid-level, by buying the respawn ability. This ability is consumable and requires frequent refreshing.

Going nowhere

As a regular guy, a mediocre, casual mobile gamer, there’s not a single thing I can hold against this game. It’s innovative and creative, it’s different and fun. It’s pretty much the perfect mobile game. However, as a reviewer, I have to say it feels as the developer came half-way and then just lost his nerves.

After all the hard work done building a game that plays great, feels great and looks great, he goes and just slaps on the first piece of music he comes across, and then goes for the same-old-same-old monetisation method. It feels he simply didn’t have the nerve to push things through to the end, which is a real shame. This could have been the game other developers look at for inspiration and ideas. Like this, it’s “just” a great game.

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