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(This game is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC for $20)
Being weird can give you a proper foot in the door when you are an indie game. Due to how many are coming out these days, it’s hard to get yourself noticed, unless you get really good word of mouth, have some budget for advertising, or you have a hook to your game. Maize, by developer Finish Line Games, has that hook. I mean, how much weirder do you have to be than sentient British corn? However, how weird can you be before you get tired of it being just weird and nothing else? Well, let’s find out.
Maize is a first-person puzzle game, where you play as an unknown individual who was left outside a forgotten and abandoned farm, run by two brothers who were trying to concoct some unusual experiments. The main goal of the game is to explore the land, and find out what exactly happened, all the while encountering some truly strange characters. You walk around finding items to solve some puzzles that are used to open new areas that are either locked by actual doors, or blocked by a bunch of boxes left by the talking corn. You will be traveling through the corn fields, into the farm house, and into a mysterious underground layer. And, that’s all you do. The puzzles range from pretty easy, to more challenging puzzles that might require some old Sierra Adventure game-style knowledge to solve. The overall game will take about four hours, and the only thing you can really do is collect some items that give backstory to the overall situation in which you found yourself. Outside of that, there is no real reason to replay the game.
Graphically, it looks good. It uses the Unreal Engine well, and the animation on the corn beings and the characters in general are well done. I did encounter some graphical glitches, but they were not frequent during my time playing it on PlayStation 4. I will however say that this entire game does look like a slightly higher quality PlayStation 3 budget game. I mean, that doesn’t super bother me, but it’s noticeable. The voice work and the comedic aspects are what really bring this game’s presentation up a point or two. I enjoyed hearing the corn beings being funny, and their voice actors bringing the characters to life. The game also has a minimal soundtrack, and while I don’t remember much of it, I was creeped out at times. Yeah, for such a weird game, you do sometimes get to a point where the sounds of the factory or the outside world do bring some unease to the playthrough.
Sadly, being weird is simply not enough to hide the flaws. For one, I found no reason to replay the game again after one playthrough. Maybe I would play it again if I wanted to show a friend who hasn’t seen it, but after finishing the short campaign, I never felt like “oh boy, I want to play this again”. I know this is something I have brought up time and time again recently, but when games like Golf Story and SteamWorld Dig 2 are giving me reasons to replay their games, then I’m glad I got a code for this and didn’t spend money on it. I know price and replay value can be subjective talking points, but when there isn’t a whole lot to Maize besides its odd setting and repetitive backtracking puzzles, then I think it warrants a mention. I also found the robotic teddy bear to be really annoying. He doesn’t do much beside constantly insulting you for being stupid. It was funny and weird the first hour or so, but it then got tiring. I don’t know if this is true or not, but to me, it felt like they had a good idea for a weird adventure game, but then didn’t put the effort into making it interesting all throughout the game.
Maize is fine. I don’t really have an urge to play it again, but I have played worse games than Maize. If you can get it for cheap, then I recommend doing so, but I don’t want to keep it on my PlayStation 4, when I could be using Maize’s space for a better game. Check it out if you want something weird and sort of funny, but I would recommend just picking up Firewatch.
This game gets a 5 out of 10.