Chapter One: Introduction
Evil Maze is a lewd action-RPG with hidden-object gameplay available on Steam.
To enjoy uncensored content, the Evil Maze Uncensored DLC must be installed. It took me about an hour and a half to complete the base game. Evil Maze Horror Forest DLC and Evil Maze – The Enemy of Abyss took me about an hour each to finish. These DLC offer significantly less exploration than the base game, but the difficulty level is substantially higher.
For purposes of this article, all DLC are installed.
Chapter Two: Gameplay (3/5★)
Section One: Overview
Waking in a dank dungeon, you must guide an an officer named Alma through ten floors. Each floor is loaded with enemies and locked doors. To escape, she must carefully pick her fights and spend colored-coded keys. Keys and healing are rare commodities in the game. Mismanagement is a surefire way to be forced into reloading a previous save.
But on every floor are secrets — secrets galore! Weapons, armor and potions hidden inside bones, rocks, walls and statues can provide the strength to fight way to freedom.
Section Two: Combat
Combat is typically mashing “F” until victory (or “game over”). Most enemies stand still, dealing damage only when the player character enters “alert range”. A few bosses between the base game and Evil Maze Horror Forest DLC offer combat that’s more akin to an action RPG, encouraging the player to dodge projectiles or wandering foes.
In the same Evil Maze Horror Forest DLC, there’s also a bullshit turn-based battle which ignores Alma’s equipment and virtually requires consultation to discover the order of operations.
Part of gameplay is knowing when to engage foes; just because Alma can clear a room doesn’t mean she should. There’s no sense in tackling enemies out of her league when coming back with better armor can prevent the need to recover lost hit points altogether. The key to survival is to minimize damage taken and ration consumables.
Alma can learn an assortment of “Spells” and “Special Skills” from randomized Scrolls. Spells provide a variety of effects, such as healing or ranged attacks. In theory, ranged attacks are a great way to stay out of harms way — but I could never get them to work. For some reason, only protective or healing spells weren’t greyed out for me.
Fortunately, I only needed two spells; Cure and Divine Blink.
Combined with inexpensive “Clean Water”, Cure offers sustainable healing. Divine Blink allows Alma to “jump” over spaces. You’re prompted to save before the spell takes affect (as teleporting outside of the playable area is a easy way to brick your game). Divine Blink allows players to skip bosses and reach unreachable loot, such as The sword of God.
Section Three: Exploration
Each “level” is a maze of foes and locked doors. There are four types of doors to unlock with corresponding keys; to complete the game, Alma must spend her keys in such a way to prevent locking further progress. It’s easy to be tempted to open a locked chest — but it might be worth coming back when you’re sure it’s safe to spend that key.
Scattered throughout each level are “orbs”, which provide a small, permanent boost to Alma’s stats. Orbs are often locked behind optional areas, often within the alert range of powerful foes.
As advertised, “finding hidden chests” is a big part of gameplay. Virtually every level has secrets revealed by simply interacting with what appear to be inconspicuous tiles. Whether it be a pile of bones or a crack in the wall, the best loot is hidden from view.
Section Four: Balance
Evil Maze really leans on “Hidden elements RPG” gameplay. I’m not sure if it’s possible to finish the game without leveraging secret items which cannot be purchased. With one exception, enemies don’t respawn. That means no “grinding” to catch up with tougher enemies. Shadow Killers, showing up in the last few levels are the only respawning enemy in the game.
They’re among the toughest enemies foes in the game, and they offer little experience or gold.
Even with secret items, I felt the need to exploit the game by purchasing large sums of “Medals” and “Stones”. Medals provide permanent attack or defense increases, equivalent to leveling up three times. Stones increase stats which can otherwise only be bolstered by equipable items, such as agility and magic defense.
Whenever I got stuck, the solution was typically “buy more medals and stones“.
Stones can even be used to bolster Alma’s HP and MP, but both are deceptive investments.
When Alma’s defense is sufficiently high, she takes no damage. It doesn’t take a genius to understand it’s easier to recover from taking less damage than more. By the end of my game, Alma could only be harmed by the final boss — yet she still had to periodically heal.
Had I invested into Life Gems, it would have been impossible effectively regenerate.
MP (or magic points) are another can of worms altogether. A number is displayed next to Alma’s spells, which traditionally indicates how much “MP” they cost. Spells in this game consume an increasing amount of MP. However the magic system works, increasing Alma’s MP actually reduces the effectiveness of MP restoring items and thusly, the efficiency of spells.
Which begs the question, what’s the point of increasing MP?
Bosses are ridiculously spongy. For example, the “Medusa” boss fight took me fifteen minutes — fifteen minutes of mashing “F” as fast as I could. And the fights only got worse from there.
Engaging bosses is a conundrum. They have a shit ton of hit points and they’re the only enemy that completely regenerates after leaving their respective level. To outlast a boss, Alma must have lots of defense and/or restorative items — likely, at the expense of attack.
The boss fights wore my fingers out so much, I programmed a macro to attack automatically.
Section Five: Controls
The controls are acceptable. It’d be nice if there was an option for WASD controls, but navigation and combat are not an issue as long as enemies don’t move. When they do, it’s not so much controls that are the issue and more so gameplay limitations.
It’s only possible to hit a moving enemy when (A) that enemy isn’t between tiles and (B) Alma isn’t too close. But when enemies move, they are often between tiles, making it difficult to determine when to move Alma to land an attack. Moving enemies in this game are infuriating.
Chapter Three: Sexual Content (2/5★)
Section One: Content
Unfortunately, there is no sexual content in this game.
There are nine images showcasing the player character nude, provided Evil Maze Uncensored is installed. Evil Maze Horror Forest DLC offers a few additional images which are played to award progression. If Evil Maze Uncensored is installed, these images will also be nude.
Section Two: Implementation
In the base game, reaching the next floor unlocks a CG. In the DLC content, CGs are played as the player progresses.
Section Three: Interactivity
The unlockable images are not interactive.
Section Four: Quality
I enjoyed the artwork, but it’s not erotic in any way, shape or form. I don’t understand why it’s even in the game. I would have rather seen the creative effort behind the gallery put into equipment.
Whenever Alma is shown, her equipment determines her appearance. With only a handful of cosmetics in the game, I would have loved to play more “dress up” with armor and lingerie.
Chapter Four: Story (1/5★)
Section One: Plot
There are no cutscenes in the game, making it difficult to surmise any form of “story”. However, on the Steam store page ZOV GAME STUDIO wrote,
The game starts in a dark underground maze where
a female officer is confined in the deepest depths of the prison.
She wants to get out of this nightmare maze!
Would you like to help her?
How she got “confined in . . . prison” is anyone’s guess, but the gameplay checks out.
Section Two: Characters
Tells the story of Alma escape from the maze…… [sic]
In this DLC, you primarily control the same character from the base game. I think it’s reasonable to conclude her name is Alma, although her blue haired friend is a mystery. Alma is taken under her wing after suffering from critical injuries. From what I can gather from the store page for Evil Maze 2, the events which transpire in Evil Maze Horror Forest DLC set up the following game.
Do you want to save your friend who are seriously ill for friendship?
Maybe there is no future in the future.
But for you, my friend, I must be brave once!
Chapter Five: Sound (3/5★)
Section One: Soundtrack
One one hand, I enjoyed the selection of stock RPGMaker music. But on another hand, I would have preferred more consistency. The music changes with every floor; It’s hard to get immersed into the music when it changes every few minutes.
Section Two: Sound Effects
There isn’t much to write about; Evil Maze employs a library of premade, widely recognized RPGMaker sound effects. They do the job.
However, the sound of battle is deafening — mashing “F” to swing the Alma’s weapon is so loud, the soundtrack is drowned out. I had to take off my headphones a few times because I got sick of hearing the same sound hundreds of times in rapid succession.
Chapter Six: Visuals (3/5★)
Section One: User-interface
The user-interface is functional and aesthetically pleasing. I enjoyed is how the “pause” menu defaults to the “Items” menu. Recovering from damage and equipping gear is a snap! There’s also a customizable “hot key” bar to facilitate quick usage of items and spells during battle.
Section Two: Graphics
Most of the sprites are undoubtedly premade content, but the game is nonetheless pleasant. While the level design doesn’t necessary have any rhyme or reason, the sprites are effectively utilized. I enjoyed Alma’s busty sprites and how they change to show equipped gear.
Chapter Seven: Verdict (2/5★)
This is my second or third time completing this Evil Maze, and I’ve come to realize it’s not a good game. In spite of its flaws, I had a lot of fun — but those flaws are deal breakers for a recommendation. Evil Maze is a poorly balanced experience which seemingly forces players to aggressively “metagame” to progress. If you’re not careful, it’s possible to break your save with a single mispent key. Evil Maze is an engaging game of resource management, but unfortunately the title is only suitable for a crowd ready to leverage guides and exploits.
I don’t recommend Evil Maze Horror Forest DLC. Only a small portion of this DLC resembles the base game. Evil Maze – The Enemy of Abyss is a stronger DLC with challenging gameplay which better resembles the base game. It actually feels like an expansion of content, as opposed to Evil Maze Horror Forest DLC which plays like an incomplete demo.