Why Scary Maze Is a Work of Art (Early Halloween special I guess)

You remember this thing, right? I hope you do, or at least I hope you weren’t like me and played this game completely unaware of what you were in for.

The reason why, of course, is because this game is aggravatingly hard!!! I can’t beat it no matter how much I try. I just want to make it to the fourth and final level, but the road to the end is way too thin and the controls are already so shaky. I’m surprised I haven’t destroyed my computer after all this frustration!

… Just kidding, I’m gonna be Mr. No Fun and ruin the surprise for those that haven’t played it (which I doubt is many). The game is just a mean prank. You play level 3, get to the narrow part, and then suddenly a zombie face appears accompanied by two extremely loud screams in short succession. There is no level 4.

I’ve always been aware of shock content on the Internet. It’s an ages-old trend that has long lost its punch. But Scary Maze somehow flew under my radar for the longest time. Now don’t get me wrong, I had recognized the image shown above for many years. I genuinely had the impression that it was just a REALLY hard game, which doesn’t quite add up in retrospect but that doesn’t mean much. Whenever something doesn’t totally make sense to me, I have a habit of believing it anyway rather than questioning it, even though the truth is usually painfully obvious in retrospect. In this case, I had assumed that since the game was hyped up so much, it probably had really imprecise or rough controls. But on the fateful day of October 11, 2018, I was discussing the game with some people online and decided to play it for myself, only to be greeted with, uh, this. Needless to say, I was completely caught off guard and apparently scared my cat.

Normally the concept of “shock content” is painfully tasteless and boring to me. But the bait-and-switch in Scary Maze is so perfectly executed that I consider it to be a work of art. The game hypes itself up to be a tricky challenge with four levels that requires intense concentration, and already has “scary” in its title. Level 1 is easy, level 2 is a little harder, then level 3 is an “oh shit” moment. It’s much harder than you’d expect from the prior two levels, and makes you really excited for what level 4 will be. The shocking part happens at the time you’d least expect it: early on in the final stretch of super narrow road, when you’re probably already at the edge of your seat, about to beat the second-last level before the ultimate final stage.

I commend whoever made Scary Maze for the choice of where to put the shock content; it’s absolutely brilliant and a prank so well-executed it’s hard to say it’s in bad taste at all. Scary Maze is a perfect example of unconventional art! I hope to make more posts about this kind of art eventually.

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