When I first heard about Maize, I did a double-take. The premise involves solving puzzles and uncovering the truth behind a government facility. Okay, so far it's pretty normal. Then I read that this facility has been overrun by sentient corn? That was when my eyebrows shot up.
Indeed, Maize's premise is undoubtedly unique for an adventure game. With a humorous storyline, I just had to find out if this was a corny adventure worth taking, or if it would amount to nothing more than a popcorn. Now that the credits have rolled, it's time to find out!
Top Secret Government Projects and Sentient Corn
One thing I loved about Maize from the very beginning, was how it makes no apologies for its premise or its oddball humor. The game thrusts you right into its world, starting you out at a seemingly abandoned farm as cornstalks rush away from you into the fields.
While the opening hour or so offers little in the way of a story, but once you start peeling back the layers, Maize offers a pretty compelling story for you to follow. The environments quickly shift into new and interesting areas as short cutscenes advance the immediate plot.
The game's not afraid to break the fourth wall either. Oftentimes, a text will appear addressing the player directly and commenting on an event that just occurred. This works really well because it always seems to reflect exactly what you would be thinking in that moment.
The actual dialogue is excellent with a mixture of witty and decidedly British humor that I personally enjoyed. There are approximately 75 collectibles to gather as well that offer additional insight into the backstory and the world.
Things like maps, memos, books, and so on can be picked up and have absolutely hilarious descriptions in the game's menu. While they're not collectibles, the blue and pink sticky notes that were left by the two leaders of the facility were one of my favorite elements.
One of them, Bob, is carefree and makes questionable decisions, while Ted is calculated and lacking a sense of humor. Their notes that you find stuck to just about everything often involve Bob making a sweeping decision and then Ted replying with an infuriated response that he always signs "Cordially, Ted."
The game's concept is absolutely insane, but the fact that it takes the premise seriously and develops the backstory through these notes and collectibles is simply remarkable. In fact, it goes a long way towards making the concept feel natural by the game's end, which is truly impressive.
Once the story started really moving, I actually found myself invested in the characters and genuinely surprised by some of the twists and turns the story took.
The only character that I had a love/hate relationship with, was Vladdy. He is a robotic Russian teddy bear that follows you around for most of the game and constantly insults you. It's funny at first, but he really started to wear on me towards the end of the game. If he didn't issue his insults so consistently while you're walking around, it wouldn't have been as much of an issue.
Even with this complaint, though, Maize has a pretty compelling story that really manages to bring its crazy premise to life.
Item-Based Puzzles and Scavenger Hunts
The core gameplay in Maize involves hunting for items and then solving simple puzzles with them. It's a simple, but a polished mechanic that stays fresh across the game for the most part.
A few puzzle types repeat several times, but the items required are always different. While most of the puzzles are simple, a few of them had me hunting for tiny items in the environment.
You'll have to think outside the box and really keep your eyes peeled for that white outline that signifies an item you can interact with.
The nature of the game's puzzles also results in some logic that is hard to follow at times. Certain things like a wheel on a door to open it makes sense, but using a plant to mimic someone's hair doesn't come as naturally during regular thought processes.
It's never to the point where it doesn't make any sense at all, but there are some stretches here and there. Other small touches, like vague hints in the item descriptions, and a sprint button, keep the pacing right where it needs to be.
The environments are pretty open, but a clever reason for blocking your way keeps you on the right path and in the right areas during your playthrough. It's not the most difficult adventure game, but the challenge is decent and the gameplay is fun.
Wonderfully Detailed Environments and Corn
For a game about sentient corn, it's important that the corn itself sells the concept, and Maize does a fantastic job of that. The characters are expressive, and their faces are detailed enough to impart personality into their performance.
The voice acting is spot on, even if Vladdy got on my nerves towards the end. The music is sparse, but excellent when it shows up. The presentation itself is a little heavy-handed on the post-processing, so you'll need to adjust your gamma in the game's menu accordingly.
The environments themselves are extremely detailed and feel very lived in. Whether it's clutter all over the living quarters, or a strewn equipment in the laboratory, everything looks and feels real and present in Maize, which I really liked. It made the item hunts far more interesting as a result.
I really wasn't sure what to expect when I jumped into Maize. What I discovered was an adventure just as unique as its premise. It's not perfect, but it's well worth your time if you like a good puzzle adventure game with a hilarious story.
Final Score: 7.5/10
A copy of Maize was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 9/18/17