“You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” – Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
Developer: Finish Line Games
Released: December 2016
Price: £14.99 (PC & Mac), £15.99 (console)
Maize is a first-person adventure game about what happens when a memo from the U.S. Government is misinterpreted by two scientists leading them to create sentient corn! It is primarily a walking simulator, with point-and-click elements, environmental puzzles, a lot of silliness and a talking bear called Vladdy to provide company and help the player out from time to time.
Vladdy, the Russian plushie, appears to be a stubbornly one-dimensional character; he is grumpy, rude, impatient, calls everything (including the player) a stupid idiot and seems to have a dislike of Americans. Despite this, he does show a bit of a softer side in the latter half of the game.
Each section is fairly linear, despite having a maze-like facade. There are long winding paths through cornfields and along corridors but there is a lot of walking back and forth and it would actually be quite difficult to get too far off track. The game does hold the player’s hand somewhat, however, this assistance turns to molly-coddling, then becomes patronising and culminates in sarcastic mocking with lines such as ‘Well done, you opened a door” and “excellent button pressing“.
The art-style is pleasant, with that familiar Unreal Engine aesthetic. There are some quirky assets and in-game objects, and lighting is used well but the visuals are nothing special. The same can be said for the music, which was somewhat lack-lustre and repetitive, though not invasive enough to be annoying. Having said that, the voice acting was strong, this helped add to the characterisation of the NPCs as well as adding punch to the more humorous lines of dialogue.
Maize is generally well written and has a consistently absurd comic style. The story and narrative were fairly simple without being dull, the delivery was amusing and entertaining. Some cut scenes, especially the later ones, felt as though they dragged on a little too long but were fun to watch for the most part and I especially liked the ridiculousness of the various corn characters.
Whilst there were a few minor negatives, such as not being able to run the game in a 4k resolution, and there were certainly some cheesy moments. Overall Maize was fun to play and I’d recommend it to fans of walking-simulators and point-and-click puzzle games but since it’ll only provide around 3-6 hours of gameplay, and has very little replayability it might be one to get on sale!
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