Imagine being dropped into a map where your every step is unknown and hidden dangers await around every corner. That’s the premise of enigMap Online, a multiplayer puzzle game where you are tasked with exploring maps full of obscured tiles in order to find the key that will allow you to board the escape boat. Sounds simple, but your journey will be littered with obstructions, pirates, swamps, crocodiles and other nasties that prevent you from progressing.
Each time you take a step, a little more of the map is revealed, hinting at your surroundings and where you should head next. As you explore, you learn your way around the map and begin to craft an escape route.
In the game, you can play on your own — great for getting used to the gameplay — and, despite a little poor English, I’d recommend running through the tutorial to help you get to grips how it all works. In single player mode, you essentially have to get to the escape boat, key in hand, in the fewest steps possible. There are three different difficulty levels to keep it challenging.
Where the game really shines though is in its multiplayer mode. You can challenge someone else — be it a friend or a random online opponent — to a race to find the key and escape. You compete on the same map, watching each other's moves live, and can select a few weapons and traps to implement and deter your opponent's progress. These weapons can be bought in the app using in-game currency which is earned by participating in online matchups (or bought via in-app purchase). The game is much more fun in this mode as you feel a genuine rush to get to the finish first.
While the game is better when played online, it can be hard to find an available opponent. enigMap Online currently has a small user base which hampers its online playability which is a shame. I did manage to find an opponent after a few minutes of searching, though. Once connected to another user, the experience is pretty rock solid in terms of connection. Occasionally you'll see a "waiting for opponent" message atop the screen but it doesn't interrupt gameplay.
It took myself and my opponent some time to find the key, both of us getting frustrated, copying each other's routes, laying traps and so on. The frustration is part of the challenge, however. You'll constantly find dead ends or land in a trap but as you explore you'll begin remembering parts of the map and working out strategic directions. I lost to the below opponent, but it was fun.
Visually, enigMap Online looks tremendous. The cartoon style is whimsical with bright, crisp graphics. The sound effects are also great, adding to the playful feel. Interacting with the maps is easy enough, although I found its touch-receptiveness to be a little off or delayed at times.
There’s certainly a learning curve to playing enigMap Online, too. It takes some training to get used to how the game operates from moving your player, adding markers for where you’ll be respawned after a particular death and generally getting to grips with maps. There are also some strange decisions to get used to like the need to purposefully cause your character to drown in a swamp in order to appear in a different part of the map. Feels odd, but its part of the game strategy in order to move around the map sometimes.
The Good: Graphics and sound effects are fun and whimsical. Challenging gameplay. Especially entertaining when played in multiplayer mode.
The Bad: Can be difficult to pick up at first and get used to all of the game’s varying gameplay aspects. Lack of online players makes finding an opponent difficult at times.
The Verdict: enigMap Online is a fun, challenging and enjoyable puzzle game. While playing alone might not enthrall you, playing with another user online can keep make the game a whole lot more interesting. The game just needs more players.