Sunday 2 April 2023

Intrism Level One Assemble-able Maze

Intrism Level One
Well, this is something very new for me - a puzzle I have to make first. I did buy the Buttonius Crazy elephant dance N-ary puzzle but have not managed to assemble it yet (I made a mistake with some glue and ended up shelving it for a while which has ended up as quite a few years!)

I was contacted by Farhan from a couple of months ago and he offered me (and Allard and Steve) a chance to try their brand new creation - how could I resist? Free puzzle! They started in 2015 with their first design the Intrism Pro and the ethos of sustainability. I had honestly never heard of them until they contacted me and the website with puzzles looked really good. The Level One is their latest creation with a slightly different aim to their earlier puzzles. The puzzle has 2 aspects - there is the one off assembly stage which can be done by following the included instructions or, if you are feeling brave then assemble it from scratch using no instructions and only clues from the numbering of the pieces on the boards.

The contents are very well packed
I have been quite impressed at the thought that has gone into this - the box is compact and fits through a letterbox. It opens up to reveal basic instructions on the inside and all the pieces stacked in boards with any loose easy to lose bits trapped inside. It consists of 3 large boards made from laser-cut and etched Baltic Birch plywood (they have the characteristic smokey smell but not too overpowering and the marble, acrylic box parts and instructions all inside (there is a sticker if you are that way inclined and a small piece of sandpaper if you feel the urge to use it (I didn't):

Quite a few pieces!
It is all nicely labeled and inviting. I set off with the assembly. The website says that it can take anything from 30 minutes to several hours to assemble. I think I took about an hour due to difficulty peeling the paper off the acrylic. I did use the instructions because I wanted something to write about reasonably quickly but I would suggest that for all of you puzzlers reading this, then you will almost certainly want to do it without instructions - I think it is definitely achievable.

Board 1 finished
Starting with Board A and piece 1 I followed the very easy to follow instructions and worked my way through. It really is quite fun. I was impressed at how perfectly everything went. The pieces could be pushed out of the boards with ease (there is a pusher tool to help push any tiny pieces out of their small holes) and the precision of the laser cutting is so good that they pieces fit together absolutely perfectly. Not even a hint of force is needed and it all just slides together. As the pieces snap into place they are snugly held and will not fall off whilst reaching for each subsequent piece. On to the second board and it starts to get more complex and slightly harder to snap the pieces together because you need to find a way to push one on without pushing another earlier piece off. At one point I gave myself a little fright by pushing a piece on with the puzzle on the work surface and there was a small crack and anther piece shot off. Looking at it, I should have realised that one part was slightly protruding at that stage and I should not have pushed down onto a hard surface. Nothing was broken and it was a simple matter of replacing the dislodge section. They offer free replacement parts if you were to break something by accident.

Board 2 finished
It gradually got more and more complex and the sheer complexity was stunning. they have made every attempt to decrease the amount of waste. Just looking at the empty boards after the final pieces are removed shows how close the laser cut pieces had all been placed. After the maze components had been assembled, it was time to assemble the acrylic cube. The instructions say to peel the paper coating off them all first which is much easier said/typed than done! Almost half my assembly time was trying to peel the darned paper off! I keep my fingernails short (something which my patients are probably glad of) and finding an edge was awkward to say the least. In the end, I resorted to a small sharp paring knife and made a bunch of fine cuts on the top of my index fingers and thumbs which will no doubt come to bite me when I am working and use the alcohol gel multiple times a day!

Assembled and ready to play
In the end I had a lovely little 4" cube with a maze and a black marble inside and a nice self assembly stand to display the puzzle - attention to detail is really high here. The aim is to move from one chequered area (it can be seen bottom right above) to the other on the opposite side of the puzzle. The Level one version which I have here is the smallest and cheapest of the three puzzles they sell - it is only £25 compared to the Mini which is £53 (for a 6" puzzle with 130 pieces) and the Pro which is £99 (for a huge 8" puzzle made from 217 pieces). The larger puzzles are more similar to the old Perplexus maze balls which I found so frustrating that I gave them away. The larger puzzles have a large amount of dexterity required as the ball can easily fall off the maze. The Level one is totally different - there is still some dexterity involved to keep going the right way through the path but the ball cannot fall off. The challenge is to find the path and get through it as quickly as possible without taking detours/overshooting. Whilst maze puzzles are no longer really my favourite type of puzzle (I haven't bought a Revomaze since the Gold), I have had a fair bit of frustrating fun working my way through this. There are a total of 16 steps/paths to be taken and a few short blind ends. After about 30 minutes I reached the other side and am slightly ashamed to admit that there might have been a modicum of swearing going on at times.

Overall, I can wholeheartedly recommend this - I think the big one will be quite spectacular as a challenge and on show. They are very nicely made (no glue is required), a rather fun puzzle to assemble with instructions and probably even more fun without and a nice little maze challenge afterwards which is not too difficult. The age range states 8 years old as the limit and that's probably reasonable. The price is good and they are trying to be a sustainable company by partnering with organisations that plant trees and clean the oceans.

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