Corn. I like it. I like popcorn, steamed corn, corn on the cob with salt and butter. I even like corn muffins! But one question you must ask yourself when playing Maize is this: “Do I like sentient corn?”. After my play through of Maize, I can definitively say that yes, I do like sentient corn. I might even love it.
Maize is a first person puzzle/adventure game that sees you, the player, waking up near a field of corn with no memory of anything before that very moment. How did I get here? Where is here? What were those weird, blurry cornstalk looking things shuffling off in the distance? These questions will all be answered in time, but only if you seek those answers.
I think I may have began Maize in the perfect scenario in that I knew absolutely nothing about the game going in. I read the short description on the Steam store, I installed the game, and then I plopped right into it. Honestly, that might have been the best approach because the sweetest, butteriest corn on the cob that is Maize is the storytelling. It starts off slow, letting you get a bearing of your surroundings, giving you more questions than answers. But solve a few puzzles and before you know it you are falling down the rabbit hole. And that is a good comparison to make, because much like Alice in Wonderland, you feel like something just isn’t right about this environment and things just seem a bit odd. Everything from items you pick up to notes you read are coated in a layer of sometimes clever, sometimes corny humor. Finish Line Games really went the extra mile to instill a sense of personality to everything in the game, be it an English muffin or a note you picked up.
That’s all I shall divulge about the story, because chances are, if you are reading this review you most likely haven’t played the game, so instead let’s get into the nitty gritty about what makes this game tick. First of all, I mean just look at this game. I took way more screenshots than I should have of this thing, but everything just looks so scenic and pretty. From sweeping hills filled with cornstalks to strange rings jutting into the sky, everything looks interesting, and I’d often find myself ogling the environment. Accompanying the visuals is a soundtrack that, while not extremely varied, was an unexpected treat with it’s synthy goodness. Not to mention the one song… well I won’t mention it, you just have to play the game to find out.
Maize controls pretty much how you’d expect a first person exploration game to control. Which is fine by me, because you’ll be doing a lot of walking and exploring. In fact, you could say that, in part, this game is nearly a walking simulator. I did play with both keyboard and mouse as well as an Xbox One controller, and at the time of play the controller seemed to have a few missing features. Of course there are puzzles to be solved, but most are in no way challenging. Instead, they are there to amuse and entertain; to further the story and give the player something to do. Personally, I didn’t mind this one bit, I was having too much fun trying to figure out just what was going on with this crazy farm to worry about anything else. I was ready to be entertained and Maize delivered that entertainment.
It’s not all neat rows of cornstalks gently swaying in the breeze though, I did have a few issues with unstable framerates. The game looks great, almost like a water painting, but it comes at a cost. This would probably be my biggest complaint, it just didn’t play as smoothly as I wanted it to. However, since there’s no need for quick reaction times or anything, it didn’t affect the gameplay much, just my enjoyment. As I said before, the game isn’t difficult, but I think that is more by design than lack of ingenuity. Instead of getting frustrated with figuring out solutions to puzzles that would halt your progress, Maize offers you all the tools to put the solution together and move on with the story. Speaking of story, I loved it. However, it does run a bit short. Maybe a couple hours more could help ease the pain of dishing out twenty bucks for the game, but at least there isn’t any padding or empty content. I don’t think I’d want to play 10 hours of this type of game, so to me, Maize does not overstay it’s welcome.
Let me reiterate something: Maize is a game about telling a story. A lot of people complain that games aren’t original these days and to a certain extent I agree. That’s why I like Maize so much. It told me a story unlike any other I’ve heard. It presented me with characters that, while maybe not the most complex, were certainly personable and fun. Sure it’s an experience that doesn’t last particularly long, I clocked in at four hours by the time I reached the finish line, but I will tell you this, I thought those four hours were quality stuff, and I’ve had a lot less fun in that time frame with other games I’ve played. If you can appreciate Maize for what it is, a delightful story told through the medium of a video game, then you are in for a good time. Give it a go, I think you’ll be as delightfully surprised as I was.
Maize is available now on Steam. Maize was reviewed using a Steam code provided by the publisher. You can read additional information about PSVG’s review policy on our disclaimer page here.