Labyrinth Adventure Game RPG Review
Excellent product, great for beginner players but recommend experienced game master (GM) to run it effectively
The game has much going for it, and we all personally love it! But there are some foundational issues that others should take into account. In spite of these issues though, we bought more than half a dozen copies, but people with some accessibility issues or new Game Master should take into account some significant issues with this game.
As far as appropriateness for young players, the Labyrinth Advenure Game (LAG) RPG is on par with Golden Sky Stories (GSS) (with some similar barriers to entry), and No Thank You Evil (NTYE) (which is a much lower barrier to entry and more accessible), but potentially more fun for older players than GSS or NTYE. LAG is beautifully put together and has many great clever "-isms", and potentially even of interest to non-RPG playing Labyrinth fans.
At the non-profit RPG Research we run formal assessments of role-playing games at many different levels, including:
"barriers to entry"
appropriateness for different population groups
required experience/skillset of the player and GM to play effectively.
We have run several evaluations of this game so far, and more are on the way for further in-lab and in-the-field assessments.
I am also an educator and therapist that uses RPGs as an effective intervention modality at RPG Therapeutics. At both organizations after the initial evaluation copy was purchased and run through a few groups, we liked it so much that we bought 3 more copies for each company (7 copies so far), plus the board game and card games associated with the RPG.
We have run it through several evaluations (and more are pending).
It is lovely in appearance and design. Seems of better than average physical quality.
Contains very clever and enjoyable high quality content.
From an accessibility perspective it has issues due to the low contrast colors of the much of the content which is problematic for a number of people with a variety of visual impairments.
From a barrier to entry perspective it is very high for Game Masters (GM), but very low for players as long as the GM is sufficiently experienced or puts in a higher than average amount of preparation work On first blush it does not seem like it would, but unless the GM is very knowledgeable about Labyrinth in general AND the specifics of this RPG, AND very strong at improvisation, the way it autogenerates which content is found by the players (which is a great feature to make the game new for every group many times over), it has been overly challenging for more junior Game Masters (0 to 3 years experience, and even the moderate (3-10 years) to senior (11-20+) and veteran (20-40+ years) GMs made similar comments.
This is due, unfortunately like ~99% of RPGs, to the fact that it continues the RPG industry's navel gazing approach that doesn't seem to understand how human learn complex system most effectively, so it is highly dependent on requiring either a very experienced GM with high improvisionational skills and domain specific knowledge of the setting and book content itself, to run it. It perpetuates the high dependency on the "GM Mentor Model", putting the overly heavy burden of preparation on the GM and massed learning rather the distributed learning (the GM has to undergo a lot of reading and work before properly playable).
We do not recommend this for first-time/beginner game masters. We have found through play testing that a level 1 GM very much struggles with providing an effective game.
We recommend at least a level 2 or 3 Game Master to run this.
For players, as long as the GM has either sufficient experience to improvise on the fly, or sufficient time to prepare everything (which takes many, many days), beginner players pick this up quickly and easily, and it is very appropriate for very young (single digits in years) children, and very enjoyable for adolescent, young adults, adults, and more.
For Game Masters we put this at around tiers 3-4 (with 10 being appropriate for the fewest populations, and 1 appropriate for the widest range of populations), while for players it is an excellent tier 1 game as long the GM is up to the task.
We love this game, and we are planning to incorporate it into our formal training programs alongside No Thank You Evil and other youth-friendly games, that are also great for adults as well.
It is well written. Very creative.
It is not really appropriate for a one-shot setting, it is (as expected) more appropriate for a short campaign, it has a time countdown clock that limits the duration of the campaign so it is not a long-term (spanning many months or years), but excellent for a short campaign.
Overall we love this game, and it is appropriate for ages 4+ years old as players, but to really be run properly needs a more experienced GM. Beginner GMs will find it intimidating.