We did not think it was possible to create a game to rival “Laser Maze,” a ThinkFun release from 2013, that was chosen as one of Toys Bulletin’s “Best of 2013.” But somehow, ThinkFun has done it once again, with its newest game, “Gravity Maze.” Although it has some strong similarities to “Laser Maze,” it easily stands on its own as an exciting new challenge for ages 8 years old and up.
The game contents includes a square 4 x 4 game grid that measures approximately 6⅝” on each side, along with 10 translucent towers (5 different sizes) that can be placed on the game grid, 3 marbles (1 for play and 2 spares) and 60 challenge cards. The object of this single player game is to build a route for one marble to follow, using only the designated towers on the challenge card, such that the marble can travel an uninterrupted path reaching a target tower.
The 60 challenge cards include 15 beginner, 15 intermediate, 15 advanced and 15 expert challenges. It is best to do them in order, as it takes a couple of challenges to get the hang of how things work. As an example, the first beginner challenge indicates the location on the game grid to position both the single unit target tower, where the marble will end its trip and a three unit vertical tower, where the marble will begin its trip. The challenge card shows the player how many and which towers are needed to complete the challenge. In this case, the player must figure out where to position one two unit vertical tower, and one single unit vertical tower so that the marble will travel in one continuous path to the target tower.
Occasionally towers might be placed horizontally rather than vertically to increase the challenge, and it is not uncommon in the expert challenges to be asked to place as many as 5 different towers to form the final winning path. There is also a flange around the edges on each tower and if towers are connected to one another, they must snap together using the end with the flange. Towers can also be stacked, but never more than three towers high, and marbles can neither drop more than one level at a time, nor ever hit a flat surface. There are also different directions that a marble might travel inside a certain tower, so towers have to placed and rotated very carefully. There are even small dots on the tower units which must be aligned exactly to get the correct path.
“Gravity Maze” is a game that starts out easy, taking only a few minutes to successfully solve the beginner challenges, leading up to the expert challenges, many of which may even seem unsolvable after 10-15 minutes of trying. Of course, each solution is clearly outlined on the back of every challenge card, but there is no fun in peeking. I have so far completed the first 51 challenge cards, (there are 9 expert challenge cards remaining) at the time I am writing this review. I admit there were three challenges so far that really drove me crazy, forcing me to wait until the next day to take a fresh look before finally solving them. My fellow staff members are also taking their turns and we actually might need some sort of “sign up” sheet as the game is constantly being played by someone.
Because there are so few components needed, “Gravity Maze” can be played anywhere and is a great travel game. It is also very addictive as you keep wanting to solve just one more challenge before quitting, and before you know it another hour has passed. “Gravity Maze” is a cleverly designed game that is simply loads of fun to play. Sure it can be frustrating, but yet so rewarding when you solve one of those “expert” challenges. “Gravity Maze” retails for $29.99 and can be purchased directly from the ThinkFun website.