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Maize Game Review

Maize is an Indie walking simulator with a dash of Monty Python humour that makes for a memorable if flawed experience.

In the opening moments of the game, you find yourself waking up in a field seemingly having just been jumped by a group of living corn, who you then watch run off. This rather unusual situation start in a maze of corn, on you must navigate through to an abandoned farm and a strange bunker door. There’s no explanation of how you got there or what you’re supposed to do, instead Maize is a game which tells a story of sentient corn, foul mouthed teddy bears, and mistaken memos by having the player piece things together through their own exploration.

Similar in many ways to the likes of Myst or Gone Home, this is a game with no big action scenes even though it does feature a Dance Dance Revolution homage. Instead, we have a game focused largely on exploration and puzzle-solving as you not only try to uncover the secrets of the farm and especially the facility beneath, but also how you came to end up waking up in that cornfield in the first place.

Maize, 2016 © Finish Line Games

One of the key ways it chooses to tell this story is through post-it notes … lots and lots of post-it notes. Once you enter the facility you can follow the aftermath of two bickering scientists who might not have misinterpreted a government memo but who share an Odd Couple style relationship. We encounter them often as we work our way through the game constantly finding these post-it notes which are stuck up everywhere. While it’s true you can just go through the game ignoring these notes and honestly considering how many there are it would be hard to fault you for doing so, they do unfortunately tell a large portion of the backstory of what happened.

This brings us to the next issue with the game. Tonally it starts as a super tense exploration game as you wander the cornfields and the abandoned farmhouse solving puzzles and finding items while being treated to a Twin Peaks style soundtrack unsure what your going to find or more worryingly what is going to find you. I mean this is a game about sentient corn after all. Instead once you solve the first level and access the bunker the game suddenly shifts into a comedic experience killing dead the tension built up in that first level for seemingly no purpose than to perhaps mislead the player on the sort of experience they would be getting, which of course begs the question as to why?

Maize
Maize, 2016 © Finish Line Games

Still one of the saving graces of the game comes when you enter the facility and get to build your own little sidekick, the robot teddy bear Vladdy. A foul-mouthed and abusive companion who constantly belittles the player at every given opportunity in a strong Russian accent. While gruff on the outside Vladdy really saves the game by not only providing an key component in furthering your journey but also by giving you a much needed companion to interact with as it can get pretty lonely walking these isolated and abandoned hallways and cornfields and Vladdy certainly helps relieve some of the tedium.

The other downside comes from its puzzle element which for the most part are too simple and never really seem to get any more difficult as the game progresses, with the sole tactic being to enter each location and pick up anything that you can and then just try and find somewhere to slot it in. The fact that the required pieces are shown in outline in their correct location only reduces the challenge further.

The final worrying aspect to the game though is the high price point, especially when the game takes around three hours to complete making it far from the best value for the money and while there have been other games that have fallen into this same pitfall, they at least felt like there was more to explore by the end credits. Maize on the other hand feels like it shows you everything on the first playthough, making it unlikely that you will play it again, especially when the ending feels as sudden and confusing as it is.

A mixed bag that suffers from a number of issues regarding the sudden shift in tone and puzzles, it generally boils down to fetch quests with no noticeable rise in difficulty throughout, and combined with the high price point make it hard to recommend. As such, this is one best waiting for a price cut or sale, which may help to smooth over many of these issues.

Maize Game Review

Game description: Maize is an Indie walking simulator with a dash of Monty Python humour that makes for a memorable if flawed experience.

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