Following on from my recent theme of maze based puzzles, this is a review of Puzzle Master’s metal puzzle, “Free The Key”, designed by Oskar Van Deventer and produced by Puzzle Master themselves. I’d like to thank Puzzle Master for sending me this puzzle to review.
At first glance this is a nice looking puzzle, and has a solid feel to it. It’s much larger than I expected, at around 4.5″ long by 2″. The puzzle I received has some discolouration around the gold ring as can been seen in the photographs, which spoils the look slightly when close up, but sitting on the puzzle shelf you’d never know that.
The object is to remove the brass ring from the key, and then return the ring to its starting point. It seems like a simple enough objective, and really is. There are a few dead ends and more than one start point, as with any good puzzle of this type. The arms on either side of the puzzle interact with each other meaning you occasionally have to back track and re-orient the ring to get over the dual obstacles. It does mean that you have to look ahead to see which notches in the ring you’ll need to have lined up before you progress too far down the key.
Where the puzzle is let down slightly is that the fit of the ring on the main shaft of the key is slightly loose. This leads to what I’d consider cheating where you can angle the ring so it is not 90 degrees to the shaft of the key, permitting the spikes on the key through a gap in the ring it was not intended to go through, simplifying the puzzle at points. This aside, it’s a fun puzzle, and is well made for the price.
Puzzle Master lists this as a difficulty level 8 puzzle, however I feel that it should be lower, maybe around a 5 or 6. I solved this in under 10 minutes, both removing the ring and returning it to its starting point, and had little trouble in doing so. If you’ve not played with this type of puzzle before, it may provide more of a challenge, but a more experienced puzzler will have little difficulty with this one. If you’re looking for a gift for a younger puzzler, I’d recommend this, and it’s the sort of puzzle you’d have no worries about passing round.