I’m not normally drawn to bizarre premises when it comes to video games. Sure, I reviewed a game called “Super Toss the Turtle“, but I typically stick to plots that have a bit more serious tone to them. Still, something drew me to “Maize” from Finish Line Games. I mean, how can you not be intrigued by a race of sentient corn with British accents and a teddy bear who speaks Russian? Unfortunately, the novelty wore off rather quickly and I was left with more random humor than clever.
I’m not sure where to begin in explaining the plot of “Maize”. Your character starts in the middle of a corn field and you work your way towards an abandoned farmhouse. And that’s about the end of anything remotely normal that happens for the rest of this insane narrative. From that point on, you’re unraveling a mystery surrounding why the yellow vegetables are talking to you and who’s really in charge. Along the way, you come across your companion, a mechanical teddy bear by the name of Vladdy, who spends the majority of his time insulting your every decision. The game wraps with a plot twist so out of left field that it almost doesn’t come as a surprise. The rest of the plot leading up to it was already strange enough. I scratched my head as the credits rolled, because I was thoroughly confused by what I just witnessed.
The best part of the writing isn’t in the actual dialogue. That simply comes across like the characters are trying too hard. Instead, there are dozens of post-it notes scattered around the laboratory. There appears to be a feud between two employees of completely different levels of intellect. These handwritten conversations not only peel back the layers of the mystery, but provide the best moments of the game. I wish that some of that cleverness had made its way over to the dialogue, however.
If you’ve played games like, “The Secret of Monkey Island”, imagine those puzzle mechanics but from a first-person perspective. You scour the area for items to pick up and determine which items combine with which. This makes for a very tedious trial-and-error experience. You’ll use less brain power and more of a “see if this works” approach for nearly every area. While a few of the solutions are rather clever, most made me wish I had a guide to help me progress the story faster. When I completed puzzles, I felt lucky rather than smart. I don’t know about you, but personally I’d prefer feeling smart when playing a puzzle game.
“Maize” is a weird game. That’s not usually a good reason for me to recommend you stay away from a title. But only check this one out if you’re willing to dig beneath the surface to find the humor buried there. There is a certain charm to the quirkiness of this tale, but the writing focuses too much on the overall situation instead of making its audience laugh. Plus, you have no idea how difficult it was to write this review without throwing even a single “corn” pun into it.