A-mazing freeware

Create infinitely difficult mazes with this feature-packed program.

Most people remember Daedalus, if they remember him at all, as the maker of the wings his son Icarus used to fly too close to the sun, but the Edison of the ancient world also constructed the notorious Labyrinth that trapped the Minotaur. He's a fitting namesake for Astrolog's Daedalus, a free program that creates and solves labyrinthine mazes in just about any geometric shape, in up to 16 dimensions, and viewable from a wide range of perspectives, including overhead and first-person 3D views. Really obsessive types can even create infinitely long fractal-based mazes with more than 1 billion by 1 billion passages, including infinitely long false passages suitable for driving the most stable individual thoroughly insane.

Daedalus has a unique set-up wizard that resembles a properties dialog, with everything useful gathered in one place. The program's plain interface opens with a basic maze in a resizable window. Menu bar entries entitled File, Edit, Dot, Bitmap, Color, Maze, Create, Solve, and Draw do a good job of describing each function but don't come close to revealing the level of detail and complexity Daedalus offers. For example, we clicked Create and were presented with 17 maze options plus Settings. We chose Cavern, an interesting pattern with lots of irregular corners, similar to a cave. Maze offered a similar number of options for configuring the maze we'd selected. Solve offered an equally well-filled menu of options for solving our maze; for instance, clicking to mark all cul-de-sacs or dead ends offered color-coded clues on the maze. Entries ranged in complexity from finding the shortest paths to applying Tremaux's algorithm. We especially liked the ability to create mazes in the shape of words, which shows how useful Daedalus can be as a graphics application, though we probably had the most fun running 3D Pac-Man simulations and other animations under Scripts in the File menu. The 3D first-person perspective made it feel like we were walking through the maze.

If you like solving mazes and similar puzzles, you'll love Daedalus. We can't image what it could have left out by way of settings or customization options, but you don't need to create an infinite maze to get unlimited fun from using it.

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