Review: Maize

Developer: Finish Line Games
Publisher: Finish Line Games
Genre: AdventureWalking-Simulator
Platforms: PS4, PC
Rating: T for Teen
Price: $19.99
When trying to find the most obscure title I could find on the PSN store, Maize grabbed my attention. Looking like a mishmash of something unsettling—like the classic 1980’s movie Children of the Corn—and an over-the-top B-movie comedy, I just had to see what this title by Finish Line Games was all about. Maize is a first-person narrative title that’s all about sentient corn which has come to life and could not have been further from what I was expecting it to be.

Content Guide

Language/Crude Humor: Although there is no swearing, some of the characters — especially a companion you meet later on — repeatedly say “stupid”, “idiot”, and other minor obscenities.
Violence: While there is no actual violence, some of the imagery can be disturbing for younger eyes. Also, some items in the environment have red marks on them and it can’t be said whether it’s actually blood or not.

Review

Maize is a first-person, narrative driven adventure/exploration style experience — also known as a walking simulator. It starts off with a horror vibe as you are exploring a corn maze with some unsettling creatures moving in and out of the foliage and then you come across a decrepit farmhouse. After solving the first initial puzzles, you soon come face-to-face with these sentient corn husk creatures. In the end, you will find out Maize is much more about comedy than horror.
There is very much a tongue-and-cheek feel to Maize as you explore and solve the various strange puzzles. Basically you will have a predetermined area to explore and find items in and then use those items by combining them or using the items in certain spots in order to get things to turn on or open up. The puzzles mainly consist of item finding and some of the ways in which you use the items hearken back to the confusing adventure titles of the past, such as the Monkey Island series and other LucasArt adventure titles.

The areas for the most part are small and self contained meaning you don’t have to go too far out of your way to find all the necessary items. It’s also easy to see what items you can interact with by giving a very generous white glow indicator for anything you can check out or pick up. What the gameplay comes down to is approaching something you can interact with and then cycling through your items until one just works. This takes out much of the strategy and eventually just becomes a trial-and-error mundane experience.

While playing, there is no feeling of danger once you get past the opening horror-like elements with occasional moments of suspense. For the most part though, there is no danger to your character due to nothing ever being able to kill you or getting a game over. Your only hindrance is by trying to find all the necessary items you need in order to advance to the next section.

As Maize began, I was quite intrigued by the horror vibe the title was setting up for. However, eventually any thoughts of horror evaporated when the strange corn husk creatures began talking and making jokes. All seriousness is thrown out the window, though, when you eventually assemble your Russian teddy-bear companion Vlad, who ends up talking to and insulting you throughout the adventure, and it actually made Maize worth playing through to the end. Although, I did not care for the repeated remarks of the KGB-styled bantering of “stupid” and “idiot” Vlad repeatedly calls you.
Whats ultimately disappointing with Maize is how the gameplay is implemented. While the strange story and characters make it worth continuing on, the gameplay itself is just the same thing over and over again; never changing when entering a new area. You may make it to a brand new place, but you will still just be finding some new items and then taking them to certain locations. There’s no way to fail, it’s all the same even just filling in some of the silhouettes where potential items will go and for the most part it’s quite obvious where an item will need to go.

As expected of an adventure title like this it’s not particularly long, taking about 2-3 hours to finish. There are some collectibles along the way, such as documents and other weird items to give some context and humor for the story as you explore the facility and farm.
Finally, it should be stated that there was one instance of my auto-save not working. Fortunately, Maize is broken up into chapters and I didn’t lose too much play time. It’s also possible to get stuck in the environment and clip through a variety of objects. In this day and age it’s a shame how these types of technical issues go unnoticed and proves the lack of budget and polish Maize had to go off of.
Overall, if you enjoy first-person narrative driven games and your looking for one with a good amount of humor thrown in, Maize is decent enough. The characters and story elements make Maize intriguing enough to play through to the end, but nothing truly stands out as exceptional. The technical issues also make this game hard to recommend right now.

Review originally published by Josh Brant, and has been restored after a website outage. 

 

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