Late last year we saw Maize release out there for the PC world and only had glimmers of hope for when it would be making its way over to the PS4 and Xbox One. We all knew it was coming but it wasn't until September 12th that Finish Line Games was able to get the game to make the leap on over. Or the crawl. Or whatever it is that we want to say that sentient corn can do to move around, as it seems odd to say it walked. Nonetheless, Maize is out now on the consoles and we had a chance to sit down and give it a play. Here is our official review of the game now that it is out for all of the platforms it was slated for.
Imagine waking up in the middle of a cornfield and seeing some of the plants running around. Now picture that there was a secret government facility below the field that housed all kinds of strangeness including research and work being done to make all of this corn sentient. Make it abandoned at that and that you have to figure out what is going on here while dealing with the nuances of said corn and a robotic Russian teddy bear at your side. This is about the basics of what is going on in the world of Maize and the rest is there to be fleshed out as you explore.
More or less, Maize is a humorous "walking simulator" with a few puzzles mixed right in. There is no shying away from that. The only issue here is that while I get Finish Line Games is making things seem absurd, for some of the puzzles it is too absurd or makes little to no sense on how you go from point A to point B to point C. There is a lot of exploration in the game and that is what the puzzles seem to aim form, but for instance, there is a portion where you need to obtain a hand to progress. You can do so with a bit of searching, but then there are six steps to remove the glove over said hand as you need it for a bio-metric lock. Given that there is nothing stating you cannot manipulate things in Maize by your own hand, puzzles like this seem just like the developer was trying to "pad" game time by over complicating things. Thankfully, not all puzzles were like this.
Another aspect of Maize that kind of ground on my nerves was the fact that there were so many "cheap" ways the levels were designed to force the player down specific paths. It also seemed to be more random than anything was. Starting right off in the game, we are placed in a corn maze of sorts and left to figure out where to go and what to do. Later on, pathways are just blocked off in the vein of "do not go this way" instead of giving clues or letting the player figure things out. Sure, it kept the flow going a bit faster instead of getting lost in the game's world, but it also seemed to want to restrict the exploration instead of giving us real reasons to stay on path. Given that Maize is a relatively short game to get through, it would have made more sense to let the player get lost and need to figure out where to go in these instances instead of funneling them down a specific path.
As I mentioned above, the story of Maize is just absurd but in the best ways of it all. Even all of the random humor and little jabs throughout kept it going really damn well. I would have loved more, but it did seem to flow right to where it needed to be and not feel like there was filler just thrown in to give us more. That was usually all set on the side of gameplay and not just story and cut scenes. Those also pretty limited, but that was due to a lot of the rest of the story and such being delivered through the characters and world of Maize while we participated and were not just along for the ride. Even in the scenes that made little sense to play out a specific way outside of gameplay requiring it, it kept the humor about it and made you quickly forget that things would not work that way if you were really in the middle of all of what is going on.
Speaking of the gameplay, while there did seem to be a lot of "pixel hunting" going on while just walking around the weird world of Maize, it strangely flowed a lot better than one would think. Sure, there was a lot of pick this up for no reason, or at least no reason at the time, so you can figure out how to use it all later on. Maize even mocks itself for that the entire game, but all of it felt more fun than the usual fare of games like this as it made more sense to place a chopped up plant on top of a medicine ball than it does to find a very specific key to open a door that is next to a glass window. If that makes sense. It was almost like Finish Line Games was taking that all to heart and making a joke about how many games do just the same thing and try to make sense of it all. It just worked very well here.
I know Maize is not going to be a game for all gamers out there. Even gamers that enjoy a lot of humor in their games or just like the whole walking simulator with exploration aspects. This game combines both of those together and I know that does not blend well for a lot gamers out there. Take that into account. Maize is a smaller title though, so if you are looking for a fun break from the serious or horror walking sims, this will do you just fine. Some of the puzzles do not really make sense out of the gate, even for the humor of Maize, but if you can get past that, it will be a fun few hours of your time. That is unless you want to search out all of the little items hidden in the world that give you a much broader story than what is on the surface here. It also has some pretty tight mechanics and controls when compared to others. Just take that all in.
I give Maize 52 Folios on the Folio scale.
Maize — Launch Trailer