It seems like a no-brainer, dive into a moody labyrinth in which the player must combine persistence a perseverance in order to escape the gripping clutches of their own mind. Why wouldn’t you want to brave the abyss in a blind, macabre adventure? This is what DeadEnd Cerebral Vortex tries to capture. Sadly, this maze game is more of Windows 95 Screensaver than MC Escher Painting.
The Windows 95 comparison is apt too, much like the classic screensaver you’ll find youself making only 90 degree turns throughout DeadEnd. It’s odd the developers chose to leave the directional keys out of the game entirely in leu for a point-and-click mouse alternative that becomes more confusing when not every direction you face is one you can travel in.
As you navigate the five mazes (including tutorial), you’ll encounter plenty of obstacles to challenge you. Some walls disappear when you get close, and others close, blocking progress upon examination. Luckily, There are plenty of items to make this task easier. Lamps will extend your vision, paint will leave a short footprint trail, eyes can expand your sight to its maximum extent, and the mystery box will grant you a random powerup or none at all.
Each level has a set number of soul cubes that you must collect in order to progress. Some are pretty hard to find, but the novelty of searching the dark corridors wears off fast. We were glad the hunting element was only slightly required, as it’s easy to pass the level without exerting too much effort. The power-ups ease aggravation a tad. But all the paint bucket does is remind you that, yes you’ve been here before and no it wasn’t fun then either.
The meat is there, though. The game really tries to capture the threat of encapsulation with its dark corridors and moody backdrops. We truly wish the music had a better ambiance so that it could match some of the creepier levels, but overall the game comes off like a middle-schoolers myspace page–black and foreboding, but devoid of any real emotion.
The game can be completed in about 2 hours if you forgo the collectibles, but it will seem much longer at times as the blind searching can verge on infuriating. There’s no real puzzle, no challenge, and the implementation of teleporters and reality inverters only prolong the experience in all the wrong ways. The game seems to have potential, but no heart.
Overall, DeadEnd really reminds us of that feeling you get when you go to a carnival corn maze. At first it’s really exciting and mysterious, but after about an hour of mindless wondering you realize everything looks exactly the same and don’t remember when any of it seemed good idea in the first place.
We give DeadEnd: Cerebral Vortex a don’t bother.
- Name: DeadEnd: Cerebral Vortex
- Available on: PC
- Price: $6.95
- Developed by: Membranos
- Published by: Membranos
- Release date: February 18, 2012
- Elder-Geek Score: 2 out of 5 / Don’t Bother