Editor: Diane Hutchinson Editor@girlgamersuk.com

Maize

Posted by GG Goblin On September - 26 - 2017

It’s a first-person adventure. Vladdy would not approve.

 
There is something truly sinister about corn fields. I don’t know if it is because they reduce sight and could potentially hide all manner of evil, just out of reach, or if it is only because they have been used in so many horror movies, but they are frankly creepy. Throw in a secret government research facility, and you have the basic setting for a horror game.

 
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Or, in the case of Finish Line Games’ Maize, you have the basic setting for an adventure game about sentient corn. While this could still take a turn for the horrific, it really doesn’t as the corn is not that intelligent. Instead, what we have is a funny as hell game. There will be twists and turns, happiness and sorrow, dancing and naps, and an English Muffin. What’s not to enjoy?

 
The game starts in one of those creepy cornfields, with a pretty clear path forward. Played from a first-person perspective, the player will have to explore the area and they will find objects that can be picked up and either added to the inventory, which is for usable items, or the folio, which is a book of collectibles. This will make up the majority of the gameplay, exploring an area and finding items before unlocking a new area and moving on. There will be a certain amount of backtracking through the course of each area, and even between areas, but it always feels like there is a purpose.

 
The puzzles generally involve finding places to use items. Occasionally, the player will come across an area where a selection of items clearly need to be used, which show on screen as an outline that needs to be filled in. But most of the time, the player will find the place to use an item after they have already found it, making the process a simple matter of trying everything in the inventory until something works. The puzzles can be a little obscure in their solutions, with the game seeming to aim for the type of gameplay made famous in the point and click adventures of old. That being said, there is nothing too vexing here and as long as players search each area properly to find items, they will continue to forge a path through the game without any problems.

 
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Maize relies almost entirely on its story and game world to pull the player in. Fortunately, this is where the game really shines. The basics are that the player is exploring what appears to be an abandoned farm, complete with out buildings, surrounded by those creepy corn fields. Gradually, all of the pieces of the story start to take shape. There is a hidden research facility beneath the farm, in which a pair of scientists misread a memo and created sentient corn. Yeah, it is very silly.

 
The scientists are now gone, but the player can find out plenty about them from the huge number of sticky notes that are posted all over the place, documenting the too and fro between these two very different people. It is worth reading the sticky notes, just for the background story, but they do descend into pointlessness quite quickly.

 
The sentient corn, however, remains on the farm and it is not long before the player comes face to face with talking corn. The fact that the corn speaks with an English accent is hilarious in itself. The fact that it really is quite stupid only raises the humour. This is not particularly high brow or intelligent humour, but it really made me chuckle. Throw in the fact that one piece of corn happens to be quite evil, which gives you an antagonist, and another queenly piece of corn needs your help, and you have the basis of an entertaining story.

 
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A short way into the game, the player will reassemble a teddy bear that will become their companion through the game. Again, this bear is a brilliant character. He is called Vladdy, has a thick Russian accent and is very moody. Vladdy follows the player around, and is able to enter small spaces and repair certain electronics, although he will voice his displeasure at having to do all of this stuff. Vladdy is the most abusive companion I have ever met in a videogame, constantly complaining and declaring that everything the player is doing is stupid. He also squeaks as he walks, which is pretty damn irritating.

 
Maize is not a long game, coming in around four hours or so for the first playthrough. It can easily be finished in one sitting, which is good as it allows the player to enjoy the story unbroken. There are some great twists towards the end of the game, and the ending itself is worth waiting for. The main problem here is there is no real incentive to go back and play again. There are collectibles to find, but they are just not that compelling, and once the story is complete, the main reason for playing is gone. With a short length and no replayability, the price point is way too high.

 
Visually, Maize will not win any prizes. The game does feel last generation graphically, and a lot of the settings are fairly bland. However, none of this really impacted how much I enjoyed the story, and it wasn’t until afterwards that I sat back and thought how it looked. The characters all look great and the atmosphere of this farm and research facility all feel spot on, with plenty of detail and things for the player to look at.

 
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Maize is a short adventure game that is packed with laughter. The gameplay is light and easy, but it is the story that is the main draw. The characters, from the stupid corn to Vladdy the abusive Russian teddy bear, are all written and voiced well, and the story is compelling enough to keep pushing the player forward. It may be short, over-priced and lack replayability, but if you fancy a funny game about saving corn, Maize will hit the spot. Oh, and keep hold of your English Muffin.

 

 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 



 

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