For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company.
When I first watched the trailer for Maize I was left a bit confused about the what the game was actually going to be like, and the idea of the game seemed a bit off the wall. But, did the game leave me any less confused after playing it?
Firstly you will probably struggle to recall a game out there that story focuses on talking corn, however, this is something the team at Finish Line Games have pulled off greatly. You will start the game sort of teleporting into a field of Maize, with some message being read out backwards, and in the distance you will some corn people scurrying away. At this point of the game you have no idea what you actually are (although you find out late in the game). So, for the time being you are an unknown entity, walking around a corn field – that is on top of secret facility. You will then find out that your goal is to save and free the corn and their Queen from this facility, in some sort of surreal dream – but believe me it really works as a story. Now where the story is told via some cut-scenes every now and then, to fully get your head around every aspect of the story you will find ‘folio’s’ as the game calls them. Opening these and reading the information in them will explain a little more to what is actually going on.
Maize sets it gameplay around what you would have expected from a point and click adventure. You are playing the game in first person and really there is no fighting enemies or anything along those lines, it’s all just about the puzzles in the game. I didn’t really find the puzzle element to tasking in the game, it was a lot of collecting something to move on to the next part – and a lot of back-tracking to go and use something you have collected in a different area. Personally for the type of game Maize is I don’t think the quite simple puzzle elements really ruin the gameplay, it’s all about the surrealness of the situation and it kept the game moving forward at a decent pace. As well as your folio for the collectible elements, each part of the puzzle you collect will have its own little folio, which will sometimes give a subtle hint of what it’s for, but, sometimes it will give a massive hint. So, where the gameplay/puzzle elements are kept simple in a way, this doesn’t really make the game not enjoyable, it keeps it simple but effective.
When the game first booted up I wasn’t really sure what to make of the graphics, it looked a little bland, and personally I was thinking it could have run last generation. But, as you get out of the maize field it soon starts to look nicer. They have gone for a more cartoony feel to the game, but given the surreal narrative and idea around the game, I really can not see how else they would have approached the games visual presentation. I would like to add I have played the Xbox One version of the game, and looking around at streams/videos of the PC version it does look a little more crisp on the visual side of the game.
Now, given the quirkiness of the idea/story that we follow in Maize I was really glad they got the sound correct for the game. For me the voice acting was perfect, and the writing behind the game will give you some good laughs. But, the star of the show was definitely your Teddy companion Vladdy, once you have constructed him and he joins you, the game just seems to raise the bar – even though he will mainly throw insults your way. But, the idea behind all the voice acting goes well with what the team seemed to by trying to achieve; be it Vladdy’s Russian accent and his hate for America, the classic British accent behind the corn and the Queen or the lisp behind the evil/bad corn trying to stop you freeing them. It all pulls together so well, matching with the surreal feeling of the game.
I would also like the mention the writing behind the folio pieces, this is also very humorous and you can see this is something the team have wanted to get right. As well as the pieces you will find yourself collecting, when in the bunker you will find notes left between two scientists, and as you would expect they’re both crazy. Again, these make for some great/funny moments in the game, and you really do want to stop and read them all. All of this makes for some great laughs and moments in the game.
The controls in Maize are kept really simple, but as this is a point and click style adventure this is something you would hope the game managed. You have the analogues to move as in any game, you will use RT or A to collect/interact, LT to sprint, RB to cycle through the items in your inventory, X to open the folio, and finally Y to open the details of the item you have selected from your inventory. Those are all you are going to use, as the game contains nothing like the need to jump. Given the simple control scheme it is made easy to keep your attention on the humour the game offers.
The game took me around 3 and half hours to complete, which for me was the correct length for the game. I do understand that some people would like a bit more play-time from a game, but please remember this is an indie title – and for the game does this play-time is acceptable. I do feel you might find it a struggle to go back to, unless you are looking for the complete achievement set, as you will need to find all folio pieces and complete the game in under 2 hours in one sitting to get them all. But, one thing I do like is that the game is also split into selectable chapters from the menu, so if you did enjoy one set chapter and wanted to replay that, it is easy to do so.