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A year ago, I reviewed the Dael 'O Ring - Easy Yellow, a nice Hidden Maze (Sleeve-on-Cylinder Mazes) puzzle invented by Cor Vissers and Gert Santman. In a nutshell, the Dael 'O Ring is an updated and improved version of the Dool 'O Rinth, a set of six level puzzles first released sixteen years ago. For a more detailed description, please refer to the Easy Yellow review here.
Hidden Maze puzzles aren't that common in the market, so the Dael 'O Ring series is a welcome addition to this type of puzzles.
The first level hit the stores in the Fall of last year, with new levels being released only a few months apart. There will be six levels of difficulty as well. Starting with the Easy Yellow and followed by Simple Orange, Silly Green, Complex Blue, Crazy Red and Terrible Black, the six colors will gradually have harder levels and more complex mazes to solve.
After solving one puzzle, there's a simple feature that let's you start again immediately. With a straight path that crosses the entire maze from top to bottom, you just need to place the ring at the top of the stick and click it right into place for another go at a quicker time.
As of now (early December 2011), there are two more colors available: the Simple Orange and the Silly Green, with the last one hitting the market last October. A good thing is that they're all the same price, regardless of the color (difficulty level) you choose to buy. Although this sounds only logical, it doesn't always happen with other types of puzzles you see in the market today...
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Starting with the Simple Orange, the second one in the series:
Having played with the Easy Yellow before and spending around twenty minutes or so in my first try, I already had an idea of what I would get in the next one - harder maze to navigate and most importantly, more time to solve.
Knowing the simple characteristics of the classic mazes, you can expect in a harder level, more dead-ends and probably a longer path from start to finish. This is exactly what happens in the new Simple Orange, more of everything.
The puzzle feels and behaves just like the first one. What changes is just the color and complexity of the maze, so you'll feel like a natural playing with a new level.
It took me about an hour and a half to finally see the ring out of the stick. Most of the times, I had it very close to the end, but I might as well be at the beginning and be as close. That feeling you have of almost solving it, is just a trap, as I found myself countless times in that situation. Regardless of the path I took at the beginning, the ring seem to fall in the exact same place every time.
After some time of roaming around in the maze, you'll be more familiarized with the path and which turns you should and shouldn't take. Going back a little when you feel you're almost there, might seem a little counter-intuitive, but it's exactly what you should do.
All in all, the Simple Orange is a nice step up from the Easy Yellow. From twenty minutes to an hour and a half is certainly a bigger challenge, but still nothing too big that can build much frustration.
... And now, the Silly Green:
Nothing silly about this one... This is the third level in the series, launched just a couple of months ago and as you can imagine, it's also harder. Well, not that harder though, because it actually took me about forty minutes to get the ring out, so less than half the time spent on the previous one.
Now, the reason why it took me less time, might be related to the fact that I started solving it right after I finish the Simple Orange and I was somewhat more accustomed its particularities... Or, I was just plain lucky and found my way without getting trapped in many dead-ends.
The puzzle does seem harder than the second level, because it it's not as easy to freely navigate through the maze, which is the first thing you notice when you pick it up right after an easier one.
One thing that looks different is that there's less straight lines and much more turns. Even a dead-end seems shorter, which by the way isn't necessarily a bad thing, because you can go back just a little and find another way. What probably makes it harder is the combination of more turns and less straights with a longer path to the exit.
Although it took less time to solve, I can honestly say that it felt tougher than the previous levels. As there's less room to freely move around, it's easier to get frustrated, so I can see it gets much worse in the coming levels.
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The Dael 'O Ring - Simple Orange and Silly Green were excellent challenges, and though with the second one just hitting the frontier of frustration, it's really refreshing to play with a different type of puzzle, other than the usual Assembly or Take-Apart, to name a couple of examples.
The fact that you can't see the actual maze you're trying to solve, and just relying in your sense of touch is by itself, a tremendous challenge, but after solving one of the harder levels, you do get an accomplishment and rewarding feeling that few puzzles can provide.
I enjoyed very much playing with the Easy Yellow and these two new colors are definitely worth a try. Can't wait for the new levels.
You can order the Dael 'O Ring different colors right from this online shop. Unfortunately, they're only available to a select EU countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden). Hoping it won't be long to add the rest of the World.