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Maize Review (Xbox One)

September 20, 2017 | Posted by Stewart Lange
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Maize Review (Xbox One)  

Maize is an interesting little game, one which had me saying “what the hell?” an awful lot. Billed by the developers Finish Line as a “cross between Monty Python and the funnier X Files episodes, Maize is an adventure game with a very peculiar premise. Without giving anything major from the story away, a government scientist misread a memo that led to him creating a race of sentient cornstalks. At first, you have no idea what, or why these beings have come to exist, but certainly at first, it’s a very uneasy feeling. That doesn’t last very long.

You start the game when you wake up in a cornfield. You’ve been knocked unconscious, and three of these rather animated corn (corns?) scuttle away in silence. By the time you get to your feet, you’re awake and all alone in this eerie field. Walking through the field while you get your bearings is actually surprisingly unnerving on the first playthrough. It’s apparent quickly that nothing will hurt you as you don’t have any weapons, but it’s got a very uncomfortable feeling in the air as you feel trapped, walking through identical environments to an abandoned house. Just what went on here and what is doing this to you?

Once you figure the way out of the abandoned field, you find your way to an underground laboratory. It’s here that things take a turn for the absurd, as you see the games main protagonist, essentially a hay bale with corn for a head, looking like a vegan version of Oogie Boogie from Nightmare before Christmas. You also soon encounter your sidekick, an inexplicably Russian bear named Vladdy, who is the evil son of a Build-A-Bear and an Atari 2600, creating a Five Nights reject that maybe smells a little bit like vodka. The game warns you that Vladdy is rude and will insult you throughout the game and whilst he does, the only insult he seems to know is “idiot” and he’ll nail it into the ground quicker than a babyface Chris Jericho.

It’s in the humour of the game that I find my biggest issue. It talks about being funny like Monty Python, or even how you’ll be offended by the bear, but it’s extremely PG in the humour. I don’t need Team America, but a little bit of edge would have been greatly appreciated. As the game can be beaten easily in one sitting, it makes it all the more obvious that there are only about 3 original jokes within the whole game, with the rest coming from material that you’ll become genuinely fed up of hearing. Yes, Vladdy. I am picking up more “useless garbage like a stupid idiot” because it’s an adventure game. A couple of nice touches are included as nods to the classic Lucasarts adventure titles of the late 80’s and early 90’s, but aside from a little nostalgia do little to save the game.

As far as adventure titles go, it’s extremely convoluted. Going as far as comparing this to aforementioned Lucasarts classics is a sacrilege, because it’s not as delightfully silly, nor is it as smart as it tries to make out either. The puzzles are generally nonsensical and while you don’t really get any major curveballs thrown at you, there were quite a few points where I genuinely shocked myself at how lucky I had been to land upon the correct combination of trial and error to succeed. The amount of backtracking at points is also laughable, with there being no reason to have to go so far back, given the slow control scheme.

Unfortunately for Maize, the presentation at times reminded me of Myst or even Portal, given that they all use first person perspective, but don’t confuse this comparison as a compliment. This game does not have the atmosphere of either game, the brain of Myst or the warmth and charm of Portal. Whilst the graphics are generally quite good with a few frame rate issues in busier areas, everything else from the voice acting to the storyline and god-awful finale turned me right away from this horrible waste of an afternoon.

The final score: review Very Bad
The 411
If you love the classic adventure games like Discworld, Monkey Island or Myst, then dust off your old desktop, because it'll be a lot more fun than you'll find here. Points for graphics alone.

article topics :

Maize, Xbox One, Stewart Lange