Critical Play: Puzzles


The Mimic, on Roblox, is a fan-made puzzle horror game aimed to tell the story of a child who has lost their parents and slowly begins to reveal the reasoning behind how the parents went missing through a series of strategic, co-op puzzles. The game is definitely designed for a teenage audience as, though the game is on Roblox, typically a kid’s platform, the puzzles are littered with a ton of pop-up scares, and the backstory that is revealed is extremely disturbing. Given that this is a puzzle game, at its core, there are a ton of strategic elements implemented within the game. 

Image of one of the hidden maze puzzles in The Mimic

Furthermore, the type of fun is essentially a challenge intersected with exploration, as you are navigating through unknown terrain, solving puzzles, and learning more about the world as a result. It beautifully blends challenge and discovery fun as the challenge feels rewarding due to the discovery that follows for beating a challenge. Furthermore, there is an adjustable difficulty rating which makes gameplay flow extremely smoothly as when you are extremely frustrated due to difficulty, you can always tone it down, whereas at the same time, if the game is too easy, then you can immediately turn up the difficulty level.

Image showing the first-person view of The Mimic

The game is designed with open-ended rules in that nothing is ever explicitly explained. This at times, is a formal element to rule-making which enhances the puzzle experience as part of the puzzle is to understand what you are being expected to do. Though, I will say that at other times, this is counter-intuitive to gameplay as some of the gameplay time feels frustrating as you genuinely just have no idea how to proceed. There is no implemented hint system, which harms the gameplay experience as whenever I’d get stuck, I would look up a youtube tutorial instead as there was no built-in way in the game to get unstuck. If a hint system been implemented in the game, then the gameplay would feel much more dynamic and immersion would be heightened. The game does exploration justice though as it does not limit the space you are able to interact with, and thus, puzzle-solving is left completely up to you to navigate the location you’re in without constraint. This really added to the fun as you didn’t feel stuck or forced to solve a puzzle, but rather, you were given the option to explore or solve a puzzle which kept the pace of the game fresh.


The Mimic is riddled with a TON of jump scares and so I would categorize those moments as moments of epic successes and fails at the same time. The jump scares were extremely important elements in this horror game as it kept it extremely engaging. I was never bored with the game as I was always scared about the upcoming jump scare, though I will say sometimes this really reduced the game to be a thriller game and minimized my attention to the story. If I were to make changes to the game, I would have much more strategic jump scares that are more limited so that the user is still engaged and anticipating them, but they don’t distract so heavily from the narrative. Other more small-scale changes like increasing the brightness of the game for visibility would also be extremely helpful. Overall though, The Mimic is a beautiful example of a puzzle and discovery game done right.


One of the jump scares in The Mimic


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