I’ve played a lot of digital puzzle games that involve bending lasers with mirrors to hit targets, but now I’ve got the real thing. Laser Maze is a new puzzle toy from Thinkfun with mirrors, beam splitters, and—of course—a real laser.
Here’s what comes in the box:
- a plastic 5×5 grid
- one laser token
- 5 target/mirror tokens
- 2 beam splitter tokens
- 1 double mirror token
- 1 checkpoint token
- 1 cell blocker token
- 60 puzzle cards
The plastic grid is about 7″ wide and has a slot on one edge that can hold a puzzle card, and the base has rubber feet to keep it from slipping. It would have been nice to have a cover or something to store all the tokens in, but for now I’m keeping the cardboard box it came in (which has a decent plastic tray to hold all the bits).
Each puzzle card shows you some number of tokens that must be placed on the grid: a question mark means that it can face any direction; otherwise it must be placed in the orientation matching the card. The top right shows what other tokens must be added to the board. Finally, the top right shows a number of targets from 1 to 3, indicating how many of the purple target tokens the laser must strike.
The purple tokens have a mirror, plus one red orthogonal face that serves as a target. Some cards indicate which of the purple tokens must be used as targets, and others let you decide. However you place the remaining tokens, though, the laser must strike each token on the board at least once.
The puzzles go from extremely easy (place one mirror to change the direction of the laser) to head-scratchingly difficult. Particularly tricky are the puzzles that require you to use the beam splitter to hit multiple targets and those in which the laser hits a particular token more than once from different directions. The solutions are printed on the backs of the cards—of course, this is a physical game so you can’t get just a hint, unless you ask a friend to peek for you.
It’s recommended for ages 8 and up, though as long as your kid knows not to point the laser at their own eye, they can have fun exploring how mirrors bend light. Both of my older daughters (ages 9 and 6) have been trying it out, and my wife and I have also been working our way through the deck of puzzles. If you like lasers (hey, who doesn’t?) and logic puzzles, Laser Maze is a lot of fun.
I did notice that in cases where the laser has been bounced around a lot before hitting the targets, the spot is no longer centered on the token—probably the tolerances on the angles are just slightly off, but not so far that it doesn’t work. If you had a bigger grid and several more mirrors then the laser might end up too far from the center with these tolerances.
Laser Maze retails for $29.99 and you can order it directly from Thinkfun or get it from Amazon, or look for it at your local toy store. If you’d prefer something a little more confrontational, check out Khet, a chess-like game that also involves lasers and mirrors.
Disclosure: Thinkfun provided a sample of Laser Maze for review purposes.