Last year developer RiseAngle raised enough funds on Kickstarter to launch their episodic puzzle adventure, Saving Princess Maya on Gear VR. The first episode of the game released this week on the Oculus Store at a $4.99 price tag and around 5 hours of gameplay, according to the developers.
If you’ve not heard the stolen princess, prophesied hero sent to save her and the kingdom, and evil magic protagonist trope before then… well… I’m not entirely sure what size rock you’ve been living under. But if you have then you probably knew what this game is about simply from reading its name. Saving Princess Maya teleports you to the realm of Dark Mazes – a sub-section of the World of Mazes – and kind of just throws you into the story. Princess Maya has been captured and it’s up to you, along with her loyal servant Gelayon to save her from the clutches of Evil Kilo. He’s the bad guy, if that was somehow not clear.
Check out the trailer below:
When I first entered the game, my character doesn’t know why he or she’s here, but an old guy that looks very much like a wizard luckily found me and decided I’m the person to help him escape the maze. Of course, he doesn’t lift a finger and just sends me on my merry way to find some crystal that will help us travel through a portal to escape this place.
Saving Princess Maya takes a different approach to puzzles by making the puzzle part of the story instead of just another gameplay element. The story definitely comes through as the most prominent part of this game and the characters each have a unique role to play in your journey. However, there’s no dialogue options or true interaction with these characters – simply pre-chosen and recorded prompts that they rattle off as you stop at each one for a chat. Which I found surprising since the developer laid such a heavy importance on the fact that you’ll start to feel connected to and care for these characters. But I didn’t really get a sense of that and mostly just waited for them to finish their spiel so I could move on and get this or do that for them to make the story progress forward.
Didn’t I Just Take This Turn?
The puzzles in Saving Princess Maya aren’t particularly hard though, nor do they take long to figure out, and simply involves walking around the maze until you find collect the right things to complete your objectives. Like coins to buy a wooden stick, or something to set that stick on fire with. What did make the puzzles feel like they’re taking forever to complete is the movement system. I understand this is Gear VR and smooth locomotion isn’t necessarily a great option.
Obviously, the developers wanted to make the experience as comfortable as they could for all players, and while I appreciate that and didn’t experience any motion sickness, it was a little frustrating seeing as moving around the maze forms the main part of the game. In terms of that’s what most of the gameplay consists of. Movement in Saving Princess Maya simply involves looking in the direction you want to go in and pressing on the touchpad or controller, which will then propel your character to move a couple of steps in that direction.
As for the visual and sound quality in Saving Princess Maya, it holds up. I liked the character designs and the overall feel to the Dark Maze. However, as with most things, there’s room for improvement. The maze felt unnecessary dark in some parts – as if it was easier to make it hard to see rather than put something interesting there. Also some of the wall textures for instance didn’t line up well and I could clearly see the different meshes attached to each other. As for the voice acting, well it’s not perfect and I’ve certainly heard better but I’ve definitely also heard worse before.
In the end, Saving Princess Maya was fun to play and the puzzles were certainly interesting enough to keep me entertained without being hard enough to cause frustration – a commendable feat in itself. So if you’ve been looking for an adventure with puzzle elements set in a dark fantasy maze then you’ve certainly found it. Let yourself be transported and fulfill the prophecy.