Xbox One, PS4
September 12, 2017
Finish Line Games
Finish Line Games
Maize is a quirky first-person point and click adventure from Finish Line Games that has been launched on consoles after an initial release on PCs back in December 2016. Maize had the potential to be a brilliant game, but was far too simplistic in design to offer any challenge and reward.
Successful point and click games tend to be comprised of three elements: a quirky story line, hilarious jokes, and plenty of puzzles to solve. Maize is one of the quirkier titles I have played in a while, and kept me laughing (or groaning), however was a bit easy and linear with its puzzles, and as a result, the laughs were too far apart.
Scientists in a top-secret lab have created genetically manipulated corn that have become sentient. And then things get weird. You thought sentient corn was weird? How about a robotic Russian version of Teddy Ruxpin who follows you around hurling insults kind of weird?
I have to say I love how Maize begins. With no introduction, you view a brief glimpse of sentient corn running off into the non-sentient corn fields, then you must start exploring a farm. The farm appears to have been abandoned for some time and you must search for clues for what has occurred. There is even a schlock horror/monster movie sense of foreboding. After a few simple tasks, you discover the premise of what has occurred, and all tension is lost into a funny but very silly story line. You could even say corny.
The storyline is funny, but the linear fashion in which you need to find a clue to unlock the next part of the story is far too easy. The game revolves around finding an object and placing it in the required spot, as dictated by an outline of the missing item or piece. The only real challenge in this game is finding the same objects. And thus begins, not so much a puzzle game, but a game of hide and seek where you wander about looking for said items. These also are outlined to make them easier to find. Everything else is just there for decoration and non-interactable.
“Unlike other point and click games, there are no red herrings, and no consequence-based actions.”
Unlike other point and click games, there are no red herrings, and no consequence-based actions. So rather than being a game based upon decision making and puzzling, it becomes a drawn-out story where you simply must find objects to continue. Most of the items you need are quite obvious and are picked up on the way, and there was no real reason to read their funny descriptions. This is not to say there are no other items to discover, there are 75 – but these are stored in a special ‘folio’ so it is obvious that they play no part to progress in the game and either there for humour or to add to the narrative.
As the story becomes obviously linear, all tension is lost. While one reason why I like point and click games is the ability to explore without threat of time running out or lives lost (depending on which game you play), there is always some form of choice that must be made. A game without challenge or risk isn’t really a game – it becomes a story.
The look of Maize is impressive, and kept me playing even when the gameplay became tedious. The voice acting is pretty ordinary to be honest, with the exception of Vladdy the Russian teddy bear. He is the highlight of the game and Maize is worth checking out for him alone, although his insults do become repetitive. The post-it note discussions between the science lab founders are also hilarious, and I found myself more enthused to see these than the items themselves.
I did something while playing Maize that I tend not to do, I started to read reviews of the PC version of the game. And this was a mistake, as I discovered that my bugbears about this game have been present since its initial launch. As a concept Maize is brilliant, for its story alone it is truly original, but as an adventure puzzle game taking the point and click approach, it is missing depth and any real challenge.
- Original and hilarious storyline
- There is a robotic whingy Russian teddy bear
- The game is visually spectacular
- Linear and simple gameplay
- Lacks any real challenge or risk to the player
- More hide and seek than a puzzle game
Maize is a quirky game with a twisted sense of humour I absolutely loved. The world created was detailed and filled with obscure references and jokes. Upon first inspection, it looked like a winner, but I was left wanting more from the gameplay. I am divided whether to support this game in the hopes it improves with expansions, patches or a sequel, or to use this as an example of the fine line between brilliance and boredom. It lives it up its namesake though; it is an incredibly corny adventure and based on its story alone I hope it encourages more original storytelling.