MAiZE is a game that is as witty as it is satisfying. The team over at Finish Line Games managed to mix humor and fun with the rewarding gameplay that leaves players feeling like they just had a worthwhile adventure. The story while clocking in at just under four hours was superbly constructed and is now a huge contender for my game of the year.

 

Tell Me A Tale

The story to MAiZE is really intriguing. If I had to break it down to a simple two statement summation I would say:

“MAiZE is a game where you help sentient corn people that were seemingly created due to a misinterpreted government order, try to escape the bunker they were left behind at. Also, you have a Russian teddy bear companion that kicks ass.

But MAiZE is so much more than that. At first, the game gives off a burst of horror vibes, waking up in the middle of a cornfield and seeing people-sized corn stalks sprinting away. Then the player spends the better part of the first half hour not running into a single other living creature, attempting to solve a few clever puzzles and restore power to the house. Normally, I would explain how the horror vibe pretty much ceases, after the main first puzzle, as a detriment to a game. However, at this point MAiZE pretty much pulls back the curtain and reveals itself for the comedy-filled gem it is. The sentient corn shows up and things snowball from that point on. Once a player reaches inside of the bunker the plot starts to reveal itself slowly. The two managers and the scientists created the sentient corn and then due to incompetent leadership bankrupted themselves. There are a few twists and turns that make the story all the more memorable but I won’t reveal them because I don’t want to spoil anything for the players that will give this game a shot. However, without giving too much away, the player is tested by the Queen of the Corn through the duration of the game to see if they are worthy enough of helping them (the Queen and her orn people) complete their final endeavor and leave the planet.

The story, however, only progresses through many little puzzles. The bigger overall puzzles move on requires then the player finds three items to open the door. In order to do that, the player needs to complete a series of smaller puzzles that lead to those other pieces. Allow me to elaborate, at one point you find a nail in a small outhouse like building in the backyard, it’s highlighted meaning you as a player can grab it but you need to find a way to pry it out. Later on, a nail clipper is grabbed by the player as a usable item. After a few seconds, I literally squealed and took off sprinting through the house to the little building when I realized I had figured how to remove that blasted nail to use it as a small sort of fuse to turn the power on.

No Husky Voices Here

The characters that inhabit the campaign are all zany and work well in the universe. The basic sentient corn people show a general sub-par level of intelligence and a fondness for naps. The owners of the bunker and hidden lab are only met through post-it notes and collectibles they have left throughout the world, but one seems to be a tortured soul of high intelligence while his partner seems to be quite possibly the dumbest person to walk the face of the earth spending all their funding on things like giant statues of himself and half-ass security measures that malfunction. There is one renegade corn stalk who’s intelligence level seems closer to that of the queen’s and he remains a nuisance for the player for most of the game. Two scientists are also brought up and referenced a few times in the game. Helen seemed to genuinely care about the corn and wanted to see the project reach its fullest potential. Fernando on the other hand literally scheduled time in his day to antagonize the corn,  which is why finding his dead body near the remnants of his ‘master plan’ is an enjoyable moment. There is one character that stood out in particular for me, our dear comrade: Vladdy.

He Thinks You and Everything Else is Stupid

Vladdy the lovable grumpy teddy bear with a Russian accent is quite frankly my newest favorite character. Not only does he think everything is stupid but that bear has some stones on him! At one point he and the players are staring down the giant antagonistic corn stalk that hinders the player for a good portion of the game, and Vladdy walks up and flat out says “Why is your face so stupid?” before getting into a fight with the Abomination.

Not only is he tough as nails, but he is also incredibly smart, often helping the player solve puzzles even if it does cause him to occasionally get electrocuted. He is also the only character to truly experience growth throughout the duration of MAiZE. At the beginning, Vladdy seems to not be too fond of the mute protagonist, but towards the end of their adventure, he says the player may not be as stupid as he was first led to believe and even asks if they were still comrades. It was a touching scene that made later events sting all the more.

Addictingly Simple

MAiZE’s gameplay is super simple to learn and the puzzles are superb. It was mentioned earlier about the nail and the nail clipper ingeniously being paired together for a puzzle, but the puzzles maintain that level of stellar thought throughout the course of the game. They manage to be complex enough to make players think but not leaving them sitting there completely lost as to what is going on, because, at that point, players will get turned off to the game. Another example of this is when the player is tasked with welding a new gear for a machine late into the game. The player is told to find a fuel tank to hook up to the blow torch. While there are many tanks nearby they all seem to be empty, so at this point, the player is forced to sit back and think “The hell am I supposed to do?” Well, players who were paying attention will remember seeing a tractor near the beginning of the game with a random tank of propane attached to a chain. Which continuity like that always makes games stand out, having to remember details even things that seem benign in the hopes that at some point they will be useful to push the narrative forward is always a great additive to games.

One Corn’s Trash…

Collectibles are all easy to find and complete with hysterical descriptions. The most random items are collectibles in this game. Everything from chairs, scraps of paper, a pool flotation device and even rocks are all collectible items. There are seventy-four in total to find and each one comes with a small paragraph explaining why you picked it up and they are well worth reading! The rocks all get names and small back stories, for whatever reason you pick up the flotation device and decide to wear it as a bracelet. At one point the player pics up some odd looking plans and apparently tried to eat them. We apparently also didn’t realize what a key card was and stared at it for several hours before realizing it was upside down. Little humorous things like that make the game stand out as something more than the gritty realistic norm that we face in the gaming industry today when every damned month there seems to be some new realistic shooter on the market or something claiming to be the next big thing. Sometimes people just want to laugh as a Russian teddy bear’s little paws squeak as he marches down a hallway in anger!

Overall…A-MAiZE-ing!

At the end of the road, MAiZE is a smartly written adventure that everyone should play. It felt like it took the best parts of games like The Stanley Parable and Portal and threw them into a brand new world. Not to mention it has a bunch of random happenings that bring a smile to even the darkest of personalities. I never expected to have a Dance Dance Revolution style mini-game to stop the U.S. Government from blowing up my corn friends while my Russian stuffed companion tries to get a machine up and running. In short, MAiZE is amazing and this whole review is a corny love letter to it.

MAiZE Review
The Good
  • Solid atmosphere and gameplay
  • Superbly written dialogue and story
  • Vladdy
The Bad
  • A little on the short side
  • Sometimes easy to get lost
  • Seemed to be a decent amount of back tracking in certain parts that consumed time
9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

Allen S
Editorial/Reviews Team, Manager

I started gaming when I was seven years old. I started my own game studio when I was twelve, went to school for game design. Now I work here and also on my own YouTube channel