Power Hour Review: Maize (Xbox One)
I have had a thing for horror and suspense involving corn fields long before I literally moved to the middle of one 17 years ago. It started when I was in high school huddled together with my best friend in her basement watching the film Children of the Corn (1984). Children of the Corn, in hindsight, has to be one of the worst films that I have ever seen, but watching it as one of my first horror movies ever with an equally terrified and giggly friend made it one of the best.
So when the opportunity to play Maize by Finish Line Games (2017) came up I absolutely jumped at the chance. Maize is a first person adventure game that takes place on a corn farm that actually hides a genetic research facility. Nothing can go wrong there, right? Except it immediately becomes clear that one of the researchers has gone mad and the other is doing everything possible to keep his madness in check. You spend the first part of the game finding clues, opening blocked paths in the cornfield and ultimately unlocking the mysterious metal structure hidden deep within the corn field. I won’t go into spoiler territory, but just know that there is also a tiny animatronic teddy bear named Vladdy (think 1985’s Teddy Ruxpin with a bad attitude) to help you along on the latter part of your journey. I don’t know about you, but I have a thing for cranky stuffed animals.
As far as the gameplay itself is concerned, the puzzles are fun and not mind blowingly difficult. Some of them took a few good thinks to figure out, but none required relying on walkthroughs or phone-a-friends. The original map area is not terribly large so it was easy to remember where things where inside buildings, but I got lost in that dang corn maze every single time. The same map was useful because as you solve certain puzzles and find clues new areas of the map open up to you and then there is a new area to explore.
Maize is not a scary game, but I have to admit that there were a few jump scares here and there as I walked through the corn. A branch that I saw moving out of the corner of my eye, the sounds of a twig snapping, a couple of opportune moments that did make me visibly jump or audibly gasp. Admittedly that was more fun than certain other parts of the game.
Maize is definitely a game for you if you like dad jokes. The game is full of them. They come from the characters and from the item descriptions of the 75-ish collectible items that you are supposed to find to fill your folio. Dad jokes. Yay. /sarcasm. One thing that I have seen as a glaring absence so far is female characters. No female voiced corn, no evidence of female researchers, no female anything. It really is kind of disturbing. While I would like to think that the developers just thought that no woman would be idiotic enough to go along with this harebrained scheme to produce sentient corn, I think that it was just a literal oversight on their part as I have seen no mention of women anywhere in the narrative to indicate that it is a part of the story line.
After playing the game for two hours (during which time I made about an hour’s progress because I was streaming and chatting at the same time) I can say that this game is pretty much a mindless romp. The puzzles aren’t hard enough to make it a solid adventure game and it’s not scary enough to be a horror game. The narrative has to be what carries it and I’m not quite sure that it is strong enough to do that. But there is something compelling about it. Maybe it’s the corn. Spooky corn fields and sentient corn telling dad jokes.
The game is currently selling for $19.99 on Steam (PC only), Xbox One, and PS4, but full disclosure I received a code for a free copy on the Xbox One for streaming purposes.