Thursday 31 August 2017

Dark Game Review – Maize

Dark Game Review – Maize

Review by Casey Douglass

Maize is a PC game that I’d never heard of until it came as part of a Humble Monthly Bundle a while ago. It looked interesting, but it took a period of “not knowing what I fancied playing” to eventually get to it. I finished it yesterday and I’m very glad that I gave it a chance.

How corny!
Maize is a first-person puzzle game set in and around a farm that just happens to grow corn. I know! The difference between this corn and the more usual variety however, is that it talks and moves around. Sciency shenanigans have been afoot, and you, the silent player character, get to run around solving everyone else’s problems, as is often the case in this kind of game.

You will do a lot of walking, but I have to admit that it only became monotonous during a few moments of backtracking. The environment is quirky and strange enough that even when you find yourself lost in the maze of maize created by the cornfields, you probably won’t mind too much. The game has a strange humour that seems to follow you everywhere you go, making you feel a little like you are in some retro 80’s comedy horror or sci-fi film.

A nice little helicopter!
The humour itself did make me chuckle on a good few occasions, but some of it did fall a little flat. I’m a hard audience to please though, I didn’t find Deadpool particularly funny. I know, I’m a freak apparently. Once you’ve met your bad-tempered teddy-bear companion Vladdy though, things improve a little. He has a single tall grappling claw-arm thing that pokes out of his backpack. One of the sentient corn people calls him “A nice little helicopter!” or words to that affect. I don’t know why but that tickled me, especially as the bear is always calling everything and everyone idiotic and stupid.

Some of the non-usable items are funny too.
The puzzles are relatively straightforward, just a case of hoovering up all the objects you find that happen to be collectable (a fact that Vladdy mocks you about on more than one occasion: “Oh more trash!”). Early on, you need to unlock a large metal door. Part of this involves getting a hand print. You find a severed hand but it’s in a protective glove, so you have to put a plug in a sink and use oil you found elsewhere to fill it. You pop the severed glove-hand into this and the hand comes free. Simple. There are also puzzles where you have to make things from a collection of items. This is done by putting them in set spaces on tables or benches. It’s all very clear and straightforward if you have all the objects needed.

Is Hitch-cornian a word?
The game didn’t seem to have a map, so when something referenced going to a certain place, I
couldn’t always think of where it might be. Thankfully the game blocks off some paths at different times, quite aggressively so later on, but makes light of the fact. The game doesn’t take itself very seriously, as you might have guessed by now.

The visuals are fine. They won’t have your jaw dropping in awe but they do create the sense of a strange world, a world of golden maize, morbid discoveries and underground secrets. The audio is just about the same level, although I must admit that the voice acting is very good and should be highlighted as a strong point.

The Queen of the Corn with Little Helicopter.
Maize is a gem of a game that I remembered I owned at just the right moment. I’d been bouncing off other games and generally struggling with depression more than usual. Maize proved to be perfect for me at that time, but even without these other elements, I’m sure it’s a game I’d have enjoyed whenever I played it. It took around three hours to complete, and I found the non-threatening flow of events perfect. There is nothing that can hurt the player, it is literally a story-puzzle game.

Maize was created by Finish Line Games and is currently available on Steam for £14.99. I’m not sure I can recommend it at full price, but if you see it on a decent sale it’s well worth up to a fiver, in my opinion.