Maize is, for all intents and purposes, a walking simulator in a strange… strange… world. Sentient corn have sprouted legs and arms, and have versed themselves well with the English language. Of course, how would one know this other than by mysteriously waking up in a cornfield and stumbling around the seemingly abandoned farm until answers to the many questions you naturally have get revealed. It's science fiction at its silliest, and if the crazy X-Files music vibes don't represent this, maybe the underground laboratory hidden away in the barn will reinforce the thought. Prepare to eavesdrop on ridiculous conversations, get insulted by a pissed off teddy bear with a Russian accent, and get to the heart of those many questions.
Kill them with Corn-ness
The game begins as you come back to your senses and look up from the ground on which you are kneeling. As you quickly adjust to the bright sun over the top of the crop fields, you catch a glimpse of a few corn stalks running away from you. Yeah, it might be hard to imagine that last part, but that’s what happens. They have arms, legs, and a tall stalk-thin build to them. How and why you find yourself in this incredibly weird and fairly scary situation is a mystery. But what are you suppose to do now?
Well, the best think to do is walk, and you might as well get used to it because it’ll make up 90 percent of the gameplay. As you check your surrounding, all you can see is maize. Maize everywhere! You can barely make out the top of a barn far out into the field, and a few tall green trees hover some feet up nearby. There’s a walk path before you and as you venture forth into unknown territory, one thing is for sure, that it looks great. The orange color tone to everything as the sun is beginning to set is aesthetically pleasing, but the detail is in the way the sun shines brightly through the tops of the maize, casting god rays on the path you walk. For all the mixed feelings I had about the game, and I’ll get to the details in a second, the graphics look great and do a great job creating a very bizarre world unique to itself. Everything has this heavily cinematic feel to it, making it feel like an interactive movie on a budget, more so than a game.
Soon, the very narrow and linear feeling path leads you to a locked barn that only appears to be unlocked if you can find a circular object, a rectangular object, and a human hand. As you have nothing more than your hand, you must continue past it. Soon you stumble on a table that holds an English muffin and a note with a little less than pointless writing on it. And as you pick these pretty useless items up, the bright orange wall on the other side breaks up into a few pieces while a couple of the strange corn people emerge from within, before they scatter off into the fields.
You might be thinking, why are all these details important? Well, you have to look at everything at face value. It’s pointless at times and definetly quirky, even if strange and a little spooky at first. The constant looping of some X-Files type of music only reinforces a growing vibe of science fiction weirdness. It gets old fast though as it continuously loops regardless of where you are, but to give you a better idea of what it sounds like, imagine one of those movies like Signs that takes place on a farm but we all known there is an underlying alien plot boiling. The first time the characters find out there’s an alien or UFO, is exactly how it sounds, even though these aren’t technically aliens.
HERE TODAY, CORN TOMORROW
And while the scenes may eventually change up a bit as you eventually make your way into an underground facility and laboratory, the basic idea of you stumbling across very insignificant items is constant, and the quirkiness of the corn is more than you could have imagined. They aren’t scary once you progress far enough to see some of these dorky actions, and they aren’t dangerous. Sure, they’re beyond weird, and they aren’t very friendly sometimes, but the game was meant to be a bit of a joke. The banter you’ll hear them having with each other is comical and genuinely enjoyable to eavesdrop on. They will act as though you aren’t there most of the time, making their purpose be more of a visual and auditory pleasure rather than gameplay enhancer.
Puzzles make up a good-sized portion of the game, but typically they involve just finding a specific item or tool to use on a specific object. It’s not always black and white regarding what you should do though and at times I found myself stumped. Perhaps it just wasn’t clicking all the time with me when I was playing and it would otherwise be pretty obvious for others. But as I mentioned earlier, the three objects that it appears you need to unlock the barn is actually a disc, a key ring, and a severed hand that needs a bit of an acid cleaning before it can be used as intended. They’re not all golden ideas, but they occasionally make for some really interesting problem solving.
The highlight of the game, in my opinion, was the heavy Russian accent speaking teddy bear Vladdy. Halfway through the game you’ll have helped him come back to life by piecing him back together. Some may regret doing so though as his relentless verbal abuse may get old quickly. I liked it though. The lack of horror and danger in the game was enough reason to introduce a character with a badass personality. He wont do much more than follow you around, throwing insults at you like you’re a baseball catcher in the pro league, and helping you bypass a few obstacles that otherwise would prevent you from progressing.
There's nothing wrong with Maize when it comes down to the nitty gritty of what it strives to be; a funny, light-hearted, science fiction tale set in one of the creepiest locations imaginable, a corn field. It does however, suffer a bit in building up the story early on. The initial fear of what might happen next, and what the game is all about, ends after the first 10 minutes or so, and feels slow paced until another 45 minutes to an hour later. When everything unravels though, it's a better than decent story. I just hope those who take the time to try out the game can push through and experience everything it has to give. It might not be the most innovative walking simulator with a healthy dose of basic puzzles, but it does distinguish itself as a unique atmosphere among itself.
|+ Great graphics and detailed environments||– A slow build up to a slightly better than decent story|
|+ Vladdy the bear and his insults||– Little to no replay value|
|+ Light hearted acting and fun atmosphere|