Of all the games that have ever existed in the world, there are very few based on corn. We could ask ourselves why that is, or we could revel in the fact that we have one to enjoy right now. Maize is classed as an adventure game having originally released for PC in December of last year, leaving console players having to wait until now to experience the game. As we finally get to see how Maize plays on the Xbox, would it be as a-maize-ing as we hoped it would be?
Maize: PC, Xbox One [Reviewed], PS4
Developer: Finish Line Games
Publisher: Finish Line Games
Release Date: 12 September 2017
Price: £15.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
Maize boasts a story that really has to be played to be believed, but I will try and explain it nonetheless. You begin the game dropped into a maize maze, as you spot something rushing off in the distance. As you chase it through the maze, the game has a distinctly eerie feeling, as if it might turn into something more fitting of the horror genre. The maze seems big and surrounding until you escape it to an abandoned house, which doesn’t help the feeling that something bad is about to happen to you. In a strange twist to the story though, after opening a special door, you are suddenly surrounded by a group of sentient corn, and this is where things really get interesting.
The corn ask you to help them escape, along with their queen and let them have their freedom from the place and the army who are determined to have the facility destroyed. To do this, you must make your way through the facility, finding the necessary items, raising a couple of special rings and, eventually, send the corn on their journey. It’s a novel and interesting story to say the least, which is hard to beat for originality, but things feel a little under-explained to the player. Parts of Maize‘s story must be figured out by yourself, and by picking up certain items or reading particular post-it notes scattered around the game’s world. It’s a shame, as some bits of the story can be missed if you don’t bother to check everything, and there are a lot of things in the world to stumble across.
The items you can interact with or read glow white in the world, which is helpful to pick them out in a room or cramped location. Some of these are folio items, which can be used to interact with the world, but instead tell you things about the story or are, just simply, garbage items. They’ll be novels, rocks, invoices and all sorts of other things, which you can complete or ignore, or read more about if you examine them. Collecting them all will earn you an achievement, and missing certain ones might make you miss a little bit of information about the backstory of the game, other than that they are completely pointless. Still, it gives you an extra reason to search rooms rather than just running between them grabbing what you know you need.
The items you can use to interact with the world are essential, whether that’s a cog to get a machine working again, or a screwdriver to undo a special wall panel. Everything you can pick up in the world has a reason to be used, and certain paths will be closed to you until you pick up or unlock a certain item. This stops you wandering too far afield, and the game even points you in the right direction a lot of the time by telling you which doors are open when you perform a certain interaction. It is often obvious what item matches with what in the world, but if it isn’t, a general trial and error will usually help you figure out what needs to be done. It never feels too difficult to play through and finding what item needs using in what situation, and is generally enjoyable trying to figure out what to do.
Maize never takes itself too seriously, with the corn joking about not turning around when important things are happening, and little quips about the items you pick up too. One of the most random and funny things in the game is Vladdy, a teddy bear with a Russian accent who serves as your helper, follows the player around and hurling insults at you. Everything about the game is funny, sarcastic, supernatural and willing you to play it as light-heartedly as possible. Sadly, these do not distract enough from the flaws within the game.
The camera offers the biggest issue, especially at the start, as it feels laggy and shaky with every movement you take. This really distracts from the gameplay but does lessen the longer you play the game. The movement also feels a little disjointed, but again it is something you will get used to with time playing the game. As your character can only move and talk, you can get stuck in certain places if you aren’t careful. In one instance I managed to get myself into a place where, because my character couldn’t jump, I couldn’t get out without restarting the game, which was rather annoying.
Overall, Maize is a funny and unusual game that does stand out from a crowd of other games simply because of its story. It is unique and generally, the story is fun to play through and experience, with using the items never feeling too tough or taxing to figure out. On the flip side though, your character’s movement can feel disjointed, and coupled with a laggy camera makes for some awkward playing at the start. The game feels weird in a way that entices you to keep going to the end, but ultimately doesn’t quite satisfy you. If you’re looking for some simple but corny fun, then Maize is worth a play.