I keep finding myself trying games based solely on their descriptions, only to find that they aren’t really what I was expecting. I wouldn’t say that Maize is one of those games, as it does deliver on its stated premise. It is a first person adventure game depicting the result of two scientists accidentally creating sentient corn. There’s definitely a lot of the humor promised by this premise too. But it really goes back to what I said about Pony Island, another bizarre indie game I reviewed. In that review, I said the excellent concept and writing wouldn’t have worked as well if the gameplay wasn’t at least fun, words that would have served Finish Line Games well to hear during the development process.
When it comes to Maize, “gameplay” might not even be the right terminology. It comes down to exploring areas, picking up outlined items, and finding the place to use them. This is at once too easy and too hard; the locations where items should be used have a glowing outline of the item in question to make things clear, but sometimes these places are so hard to find (especially in relation to the items) that you don’t even get that far. The exploration aspect is at least interesting; the game world is full of documents and other things that flesh out the setting and what happened before the start of the game. Sadly, the exploration is hindered a bit by the game having certain areas rather obviously blocked off. They’re just blocked by a bunch of boxes, regardless of whether that makes sense for the particular location. I feel it could have been done better.
It’s the non-gameplay elements that are really worthwhile. The sentient corn themselves are pretty entertaining, and at a certain point in the game you find a sentient teddy bear with a Russian accent who’s always around to make jokes and generally insult the player. It’s funny, but it’s slow, and I’m not sure it’s enough to keep most players interested. In some cases it seems like the developers were trying too hard, and in other cases the humor just falls flat. For example: at one point early in the game, text appears on the screen to explain the controls. Near the end of this tutorial, there’s a message that says, “Pressing Q does absolutely nothing.” That actually got a chuckle out of me. That wasn’t quite the case when the game reused that same joke, though.
Graphically, the game isn’t half bad on my setup. The lighting works well in the outdoor part, and the art style is a good fit for the premise. The designs of the living corn and the teddy bear are pretty cool too, and the voice acting works well with them. I can’t really complain. Like the humor, the graphics are pretty good at doing the job, but other times they fall flat. There isn’t a drop in quality or anything, but there are some details that I wish were present.
Maize seems like an ideal game to watch someone else play. There’s not exactly super fun gameplay; you’re mostly there for the story and the jokes. And those usually work pretty well, making pretty good use of the premise. But I wouldn’t recommend playing it yourself; it’s too tedious for the humor to be worthwhile.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Just a husk
Gameplay - 2/10
Graphics - 7/10
Story - 7/10
+ Funny story and background
+ Good graphics
+ Good voice acting
– Virtually no gameplay