In 1897, Colleen and Samuel Quaice discovered a mysterious book in the Upper Wolverhampton Bibliothèque. As soon as the two siblings opened the book, the skeletal Gatekeeper emerged and pulled the pair into The Maze of Games. In 2014, readers discovered copies of The Maze of Games, documenting the sibling’s passage through that labyrinth. Readers were tasked with squaring off against each of the puzzles the Quaices faced along the way, with every solve unlocking the next page of the story. This “interactive puzzle novel” format added a welcome twist to the gamebook genre without infringing on the litigious Choose Your Own Adventure franchise’s intellectual property.
After four long years, the first group of readers successfully completed The Maze of Games‘ puzzles, finally freeing the Quaice siblings and unlocking one final Maze of Games Kickstarter campaign, The Maze of Games Omnibus and Escape Room Experience. The campaign allows backers to obtain an in-universe answer key, as well as a chance to buy in for the full experience, with components including a soundtrack composed by Austin Wintory, an audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton, a radio show, and even a Maze of Games themed escape room in Seattle.
How Exactly Does The Maze of Games Work?
The Maze of Games prologue starts off like a traditional book, with a brief introduction to the Quaices and their plight. Once the pair encounter the Gatekeeper, they are charged with solving an initial puzzle to gain entry to the Castle Maze. The Maze of Games is themed around a deck of cards, with each suit representing a “chapter” of the story.
With standard Choose Your Own Adventure novels, players are given multiple choices. However, The Maze of Games only has one correct pathway through its pages, determined by the four mazes contained within. Figuring the optimal path through each maze will provide each chapter’s intended reading (and solving) order, with each suit getting increasingly difficult.
Even readers tackling the book alone should be able to make it through the initial Castle Maze of Diamonds…it’s the Cloud Maze of Spades and its final meta-puzzle that had readers confounded for the past four years. Lone Shark Games even released The Theseus Guide to the Final Maze, a chapbook that offered hints to see Colleen and Samuel through to the finish with yet another series of puzzles. And while audio-inclined readers couldn’t solve the Maze of Games audiobook, Wil Wheaton’s acting quickly made the audio edition my preferred way of experiencing the story, showing off an impressive range as he embodies the host of helpful (and somewhat less-than helpful) characters the siblings encounter along the way. Conveniently, the audiobook comes in “solved” and “unsolved” ordering, so listeners can appreciate the narrative in the style of their choosing.
The Maze of Games wiki has hints for every puzzle (including the final challenge) to nudge readers on to the solutions should they find themselves stuck. What Lone Shark Games’ 2019 Maze of Games Kickstarter campaign is adding to the mix is The Keymaster’s Tome, a reproduction of the journal the Quaice siblings might have used to navigate The Maze of Games, with “answers, conversations, and tidbits hand-written in the margins”. The campaign also introduces an audio recording of The Theseus Guide to the Final Maze and a radio play, The Gatekeeper’s Variety Hour, featuring both musical and puzzle guests.
The Maze of Games: Now a Physical Escape Room?
Readers of the newest edition of Puzzlecraft may already be familiar with the concept of a Maze of Games-themed escape room, as Gaby Weidling used the idea to illustrate the process of escape room development in the book. Lone Shark Games partnered with Epic Team Adventures to transform that idea into a reality, with a themed escape room in Seattle that opens up…today, March 14th. The room’s construction is a bit atypical for escape rooms, with four different rooms all making use of the same space. As with all Maze of Games productions with an audio component, Wil Wheaton is reprising his role to narrate the escape room.
All backers who contribute $15 or more will receive a $35 discount code for the room in which Selinker and Weidling find themselves trapped. Which brings us to the Kickstarter campaign.
Puzzling Through the Maze of Games Kickstarter…Again
When Mike Selinker first launched the Maze of Games Kickstarter back in 2014, he did it with a twist – practically every promotional item for the campaign contained secret puzzles for prospective readers to solve. The Reddit AMA for the campaign? Secretly a puzzle. The Q&A with Matt Forbeck on Wired? Another puzzle. Even the Kickstarter campaign page had puzzles hidden throughout campaign videos, imagery, and text. Entering solutions into the Puzzazz site unlocked badges to celebrate each milestone, culminating in a badge to celebrate the status of Maze of Games Gamesmaster.
The campaign even framed its stretch goals around the book by having the Gatekeeper lock Mike’s puzzlemaking friends like Ken Jennings, Richard Garfield, Thomas Snyder, and Will Shortz in cells. As thanks for unlocking them, each puzzlemaker contributed a Victorian-era appropriate puzzle to the Conundrucopia at the back of the book.
The 2019 campaign also features a series of puzzles themed around people getting locked up: but this time, Mike Selinker and Gaby Weidling are locked up in their own escape room! The Kickstarter campaign page holds a few secrets, including one rebus featured in the initial campaign video. The @lonesharkgames Twitter account will be also sharing a series of 20 “Tom Swifties” puzzles themed around the names of Conundrucopia victims. A series of five postcards are also out for distribution at the MIT Mystery Hunt, the JoCo Cruise, Emerald City Comic Con, the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, and PAX East. The first of these puzzles, the postcard from the MIT Mystery Hunt (initially used to promote the then-pending release of Puzzlecraft), is shown below.
The final challenge involves finally “getting Mike and Gaby out of the Maze of Games escape room”…it’s anybody’s guess how literal that challenge will be. The Kickstarter campaign itself is structured to allow new readers the chance to get everything Maze of Games related in digital or print format ($55 for digital, $99 for print), or to focus on new content for backers who supported both the initial Maze of Games campaign and the follow-up campaign for the audiobook ($15 for digital, and $33 for the print).
Check out The Maze of Games Omnibus and Escape Room Experience Kickstarter campaign to dive into the puzzles, and consider whether The Maze of Games is more tempting when it comes with a cheat sheet. It’s entirely possible that the page has disclosed all the surprises Lone Shark Games has planned for the coming month…but I wouldn’t count on it.