Review: Maize

They’ll chew your ear off.
Developer: Finish Line Games
Publisher: Finish Line Games

Platforms: PC
Release: 2nd December, 2016
Copy purchased

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Maize is a ridiculous game about wandering around a farm while being berated by sentient corn stalks, it’s a fun kind of weird. Finish Line Games bring us this comedic first person point and click adventure centred around an abandoned cornfield. This game has a lot going for it, its looks beautiful, it writings fun and bizarre and to top it all off, there’s same damn good voice acting.

Maize tries its best to dazzle you with its textures, designs and lighting effects from the moment you’re plonked at the edge of a cornfield. The farm is filled with dilapidated buildings and rusted machinery, everything is useful in selling the idea that this place is long abandoned. The character designs are another interesting aspect, many look somewhat grounded while others are quite exaggerated, almost to the point of being caricatures. It was feel strange to see such cartoonish characters set in a world clearly aiming for a realistic look, but that just adds to how whacky the game is.

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Maize is heavily focused on its narrative and writing, resulting in a very entertaining and comedic adventure around this broken farm. Finish Line Games have taken this silly concept of talking corn and created a nonsensical and ridiculous story. The game features a full cast of voice performance which livens up the game quite a bit. The writing of the characters is overall well done too, although they lean on tropes and stereotypes quite a bit.

The game likes to indulge in a little self awareness, often in the form of tips breaking the 4th wall. One complaint I have to level against Maize is that it tends to let its jokes drag on for too long or have a recurring gag that makes your eyes roll after its first few instances. Despite this, the writing is definitely the highlight of Maize.

In regard to gameplay, Maize is an exploration puzzle adventure, with a hefty focus on the exploration. The puzzles revolve around your typical point and click interactivity, gathering items and using them in appropriate places. I’m a little conflicted about the puzzle solving, on one hand, the puzzles are mostly compelling in some way, providing even more opportunities for humor. On the other hand, the interactivity is incredibly limiting, especially when the few objects worth interacting with are highlighted. The puzzles aren’t that hard anyway, especially when you’re constantly given hints or just outright telling you the answer in item descriptions. Its obvious that gameplay isn’t the major focus, that’s what the writing is there for.

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There’s no combat in Maize, or any kind of tangible threat whatsoever, eliminating almost any sort of tension the game can have. This would be a problem if the game was trying to be tense, but the constant comedic tone would ruin any tension anyway. The biggest downfall Maize has is the huge amount of backtracking involved. As you progress, certain action will open up new areas, usually on the other side of map, while this is fine during the more visually interesting areas, having to trawl back and forth through the same areas can become tiresome. The game’s also quite short, with very little replay value in the form of collectable items scattered around the world.

Out of all the games I’ve played this year Maize has to be the stupidest, but in a good way. Despite its limited involvement and gameplay, Maize maintains a constant amount of silly entertainment. The writing, performance and visuals are enough to carry this game’s lackluster puzzle mechanics, making for a very enjoyable overall experience that I would easily recommend.

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