Review – Maize
Maize is one heck of a weird game. I don’t think there’s another way to start this review other than mentioning that. This is a game about sentient corn with British accents and Russian-speaking teddybears after all. Sadly, not even its insane setting helped save this game from being just a bland adventure title.
The first half hour or so of Maize was very confusing, not because of any surreal imagery or anything like that, but because it had no plot and no characters, just me in cornfield maze (not maize) next to a shack with some items and a bunch of stuff to collect and use. There was literally nothing beyond me in an extremely poorly lit shack with a bunch of items and no idea of what to do with them. In true adventure game fashion, I did what everyone else would do in a game from this genre: use all items everywhere until I could find the suitable place for the suitable item, usually making no sense whatsoever. Even though there was basically no story by then, the game was already a bit better than most walking sims I’ve played for actually having some gameplay and things to do, even if the visuals and framerate were poor so far. Once you finish this introductory stage, you’ll meet a few sentient corn beings and the game will actually begin. And become boring.
From then on Maize becomes a very linear game with very little interesting gameplay. It’ll resort to even easier and more linear puzzles which require little to no thinking. If the gameplay isn’t interesting, what’s there to keep players intrigued up until the end of the game? Well, there’s the game’s plot and “sense of humor,” both of which didn’t captivate me at all.
You see, while Maize‘s plot can be so absurd to the point of being intriguing at some times (especially near the end of the game), its sense of humor was just a failure to me. Using post-it notes as a means to create a conversation between two characters is interesting in the beginning but it becomes tiresome when they become overused. The biggest problem to me was your “side character,” a stuffed teddy bear called Vladdy. Vladdy’s “schtick” is to call you an idiot. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Calling the player an idiot isn’t exactly funny, and not because of some social justice excuse. Calling the player an idiot a trillion times throughout the game for no reason other than just walking from point A to point B is even less funny. Maize does try to be funny at many points, and I have to at least give the game credit for its various attempts, but its humor is just bland. Which, sadly, reflects the state of the game as a whole.
Maize might have a unique concept, some (scarce) funny moments and more gameplay than the average “walking sim,” but it fails miserably as a comedic narrative-driven experience, with a lot of jokes falling flat, and some of the dialogue being unbearable. And I’m not using this word just because it’s regarding a stuffed bear. It also didn’t help that none of the game’s puzzles required more than a few seconds of thinking, that its visuals were poor, and that the overall game has absolutely zero replay value.
It might be amusing for a few minutes, but in the end Maize was just a mediocre attempt at a comedic game. Just stick to titles like The Stanley Parable for the time being.
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Maize is also available on PS4 and PC.