So if you found the pace of Gimme Friction Baby too leisurely, or if Rerun required just a bit too much manual dexterity, then chances are you'll like the CGDC3 Honorable Mention: ReMaze. Like Rerun, it has many strengths and hardly any weaknesses. In fact, the two games are similar in many ways: both adapt a classic popular game type to incorporate nicely the Replay theme; both use polished visuals and carefully selected music and sound effects to set a mood that reflects the gameplay; both are well thought-out and bug-free; they both feel like finished products.
Despite all these commonalities, Rerun and ReMaze are two of the most oppositely-styled games in the competition. ReMaze is dark and deliberate where Rerun is light and spontaneous. It sucks you in with its spooky soundtrack, disorients you with its flickering mazes and cryptic messages, and roughs you up a bit with its fiendish sudden-death levels. Just when you thought you had seen the last of a maze, it comes back to haunt you in the next level. To persevere, you must be wily and thorough.
ReMaze starts off easily enough, with only one corridor down which to guide the white squares. Then there is another, and another, and soon you are caught up trying to navigate several mazes at once, not just to reach the goals, but to reach them simultaneously. Then comes the red death. One misstep and you're toast!
On the later levels, the ones filled with those fiery red squares, your best weapon will often be logic. Eliminate all of the directions you can't go, and often your path will be nearly worked out for you. However, the clever way the levels are designed does NOT make this obvious. That's the real strength underlying ReMaze—the level design. It offers a nice learning curve, teaching at the beginning, then piquing your interest, and finally throwing at you everything it's got. Despite the repeated maze segments, each level is unique unto itself, which only serves to bolster the effectiveness of the Replay theme and the quality of the gameplay.
So while our top two runners up may look similar on paper, don't think even for a minute that they will play the same way. Rerun and ReMaze together show that excellence is excellence, no matter what form it takes. Congratulations again to Felix for delighting us and earning an Honorable Mention with his fantastic puzzle game!
Jay - It may be interesting to note that the top 3 games in this competition were all based on very simple ideas. In fact, ReMaze includes little in the way of instructions at all, apart from the introductory: "Use spacebar to reset; don't get lost." And you don't need them. The objective is clear immediately upon seeing the first level and after a brief experimentation with the arrow keys on the keyboard. This is the hallmark of exceptional casual gameplay design.
There were many excellent games in this competition, and ReMaze ranks among my personal favorites. The atmosphere is mysterious and moody, the implementation of the replay theme is brilliant, and the level design is excellent and ramps comfortably in difficulty. The only areas where points were not awarded in full were in usability, due to its rather heavy requirement on the CPU for its nice (but unnecessary) ripple effect, and in replay value. It would have been nice for the game to calculate the frames per second on-the-fly and adjust whether the ripple effect was to be used. Or even an option for the player to turn it off, if desired.
Overall, an exceptional game, a worthy contender, and a pleasure to have amongst the other entries in this competition. Well done, Felix!