I wasn’t quite sure what to expect (aside from a few corn puns) from Finish Line Games’ Maize, but no amount of information could’ve prepared me for what weirdness I was in store for. The first-person adventure game starts off simple enough, as I was running around cornfields collecting objects and picking up notes until I found an abandoned farm house. Despite a spooky lack of lighting that had me on the edge of my seat at 2am, there was nothing to really be afraid of. I just collected items throughout the house, and then used them to solve puzzles like I would in any other adventure game.
After solving many puzzles and collecting a disc, a human hand (don’t ask), and a key, I was able to finish the game’s first chapter. It was only then that I realized what I had gotten myself into, as I was quickly introduced to a large number of talking cornstalks. These strange abominations aren’t violent, but rather light-hearted and far too dumb to pose any sort of threat. They also love to break out into song and take a nap at inopportune times. They’re charming in their simplicity, and they set the tone for the very strange adventure that follows.
Singing cornstalks are just the start of what players will see in Maize, as they’re introduced in the next chapter to a Russian teddy bear that talks. Uncovering how these strange creations came to be is part of the fun, and all of the weirdness is backed by a solid story that is mostly told by a series of hilarious post-it notes between two uncooperative employees. I was never quite sure what I’d see next in the game, and it’s that sense of wonder that propelled me to finish it in a single sitting.
For the most part, the puzzles found in Maize fail to really impress. It’s the standard adventure game fare of scanning a room for as many objects as you can find, and then using them on another object in the environment. This can definitely grow tiresome at points, especially as players will sometimes be carrying around six or more items, but it never gets truly frustrating due to a few smart design choices.
While never resorting to a flat out hint mechanic, players who go into their inventory and read item descriptions will get a clue as to what they’ll need to do to progress. These nudges in the right direction help a lot, as it kept me wandering around the world aimlessly to a minimum. Additionally, the areas are enjoyable to explore, and the puzzles tie-in to the story for the most part, which gives them more meaning than just being in the way.
Occasionally players will have to team up with their lovable Russian bear to fix objects (he hilariously states later in the game that he’s not a mechanic, and it’s ridiculous that the player has him solve all of their problems), and these set up the groundwork for some of my favorite puzzles. For example, to get past a face detection scanner that the bear fixed, I had to find an etch-a-sketch, go to a portrait of the character, and then somehow my crude drawing got me through security. Not all of the puzzle solutions are this funny, but there are some standout moments that had me laughing.
Maize Review - A Weird Adventure Like No Other (PS4)
Kettle Cooked With Love
Maize‘s sense of humor is definitely its best quality. While the game starts off semi-seriously, it quickly pivots to one of the silliest plots I’ve seen in the game. The story has a solid payoff, and while I won’t spoil it, one of the climatic moments of the game totally subverts expectation by having the gameplay turn into a totally different genre. It’s a game that manages to surprise the player, even when they feel like things couldn’t get more ridiculous.
While certainly not the best adventure game I’ve played, there’s no doubting that Maize is filled with heart. The love that went into development shows throughout, and it’s why I found myself constantly laughing at all of the game’s silly jokes throughout. If you’re looking for three or four hours of laughs, and don’t mind some standard puzzle design, then you’ll find a lot to enjoy here.
Maize review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.