There are plenty of terrific video game puzzles out there. Whether you’re talking about video games where the vast majority of the gameplay is puzzle solving (like Myst, Portal, The Witness) or games in other genres that still use puzzles in creative ways (Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Uncharted), puzzles are part of the fabric of video games.
But sometimes, it’s almost more interesting when people introduce puzzly elements to non-puzzle games, because it shows off the creativity, cleverness, and skill of the designer.
People have designed escape room-style puzzles in Super Mario Maker (not to mention working calculators!) and Minecraft is known for its user-generated puzzly challenges.
But I don’t think I ever expected Animal Crossing: New Horizons to end up as a refuge for puzzly minds.
For the uninitiated, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a game where each player gets their own island, on which they can build a house, create their own paradise, and interact with fellow players. You can collect animals, plants, fruit, and other resources to craft items. There are tasks to complete, and more characters will arrive to explore your island.
We previously reported on Animal Crossing back in May of 2020 when guest blogger Jen Cunningham discussed their May Day event. During the event, game designers created a special island with a maze and a series of tasks for players to complete as they solved the twisty turny path before them. It was a big success, one of many for the game in 2020.
But as it turns out, that’s not the only maze to be found if you go island-hopping in this popular game.
No, a user named Avery Monsen spent about two weeks turning his island into a diabolical labyrinth of his own design. After deep diving into the game, the creation of Avery’s maze was driven by two factors:
1. It was more fun than the traditional game play
2. It would make the game virtually unplayable, which would make it easier to put down for a while.
And it looks like his plan succeeded. Once the maze was finished, he put the game away. (He recently returned to the game to check out a programming update.)
Apparently, the maze is complex enough to cause travel from any key location to any other key location to last ten minutes. And for a game where you’re free to explore wherever, ten minutes to get from place to place is an eternity.
“I wouldn’t say I forgot about my maze, but I definitely forgot how much of a hassle it is. It’s a nightmare,” Monsen said. “So, I took a few screenshots and posted them to my Twitter. I was very quickly flooded with people who were impressed by my dedication and terrified by my obsession. Both of these reactions are valid.”
He has shared the address code so that other players can visit his island and try their hand at his now-famous labyrinth. “I hope people enjoy my island and I hope it doesn’t make me look totally nuts,” he said.
Who knows what other puzzly works are lurking out there in the world of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, just waiting to be revealed?
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