December 1st, 2016
Finish Line Games
Finish Line Games
Ah, the peaceful and serene life on the farm. Rows of corn, a nice farm house, a silo or two to store grain, and, wait a minute, did that corn stalk just talk to me? Is that, a Russian bear with a soviet background helping me out? Yes, yes it is. This is Maize, a game by Finish Line Games that came out December 1st, 2016. I’m Weise, aka Thomas, and thank you for checking out my review.
The world of Maize is quite different than what you see in other titles. Your character starts in a gorgeous atmosphere, surrounded by rows of corn stalks. As the story continues to unfold, you find that two scientists have taken a government contract to create sentient corn, that is corn that is personified and animated to have human-like conditions. Without spoiling too much, the game does have a great overall flow as you find out more and more about the story, who you are as a character, and what your purpose is in the game. Although the game will only take you 3 to 4 hours to complete, the story really is good with a lot of collectible pick-ups you can find to tell you even more about the world you are in and the hate the two scientists have for each other.
Maize is basically a first person point and click / adventure game. You travel around, collecting items and then using those items either in combination with each other or on items in the world to unlock new areas, progress through the story, and allow you to move forward. Sadly, as a fan of point and click games, this was a tad clunky in Maize. I felt like it was VERY clear which items were to be used where due to the outlines in the environmental objects to show where they should be placed. This took away a lot of the mystery, and really just turned into a “find the object and you already know where it goes.”
Now, that doesn’t mean this is a bad game, just that this element wasn’t used to its full potential. It served literally as just a barrier to continue progression, rather than a fun puzzle-solving mechanic that I would have preferred. Again, the game takes about 3 to 4 hours to complete, which feels pretty short in my opinion. I beat it in two sessions and really did enjoy my time with it, but even though the story was pretty good and the gameplay itself wasn’t too terrible, I still can’t help but think the $20 price tag is a little much for what you get.
Moving into the visuals, this game is stunning. It was built using unreal engine 4, and you can tell a lot of time was put into the environmental art and face rigging for the animations of the characters as they talk. When I first heard of Maize and realized they were going to have corn stalks talk to me, I was a little confused on how it would look. From the very start, however, you can see just how beautiful this game is and how well done the animations are in these sentient beings.
I personally didn’t notice any graphical issues while playing this game, but I have heard others see issues with the lighting of some areas, complain about some flickering in overhead lights (though I felt this was environmental and intended, not an issue), and other minimal frame drops in some of the rooms you explore.
Overall, I think Finish Line Games kicked ass in the graphics department. There was so much variety and contrast in the different areas of the world, whether you are above ground in the farm region, or underground in the different parts of the lab, the game was just beautiful throughout.
Coming off of the high of the visuals, I wish I could say the audio was up to par. Unfortunately, the game really let me down here. Outside of a few scenes within the game including the closing credits, the game basically plays the same tune throughout the entire world, and it’s really not that entertaining. It’s not a bad song, but it just repeats various tones over and over, and really it gets old fast.
On the voice-acting end, however, the game was able to save face and give a great experience again. Though there wasn’t as much of it as I hoped throughout the game, when the various characters in this world do speak I felt like the voice acting was done quite well. From Vladdy, the Soviet Teddy Bear you meet early on that helps you through your travels, to the various corn stalks who talk to you, they really do feel personified. Combine that with the animation and facial rigging I mentioned earlier, and you get a pretty enjoyable experience in this realm.
When I review games, I also like to talk about the value you get from the game in terms of replay-ability. Unfortunately, with Maize what you see is what you get. You get a 3 to 4 hour experience that is pretty great, but not something I would go back through again any time soon. When you look at a game like Firewatch which took you on a fantastic story journey, you may look at this and wonder if its similar due to them both being at the same price.
For me, Firewatch was worth $20 for the gameplay experience, Maize was not. That’s not to say Maize is a bad game, but I think it’s a tad over priced for what you actually get. There is really no replay value here, truly, so consider that before purchasing if you were upset with Firewatch.
In conclusion, Maize really is a good game. It’s overpriced in my opinion, but worth picking up on a sale to be able to enjoy the story and gameplay. The game is visually stunning, the story is pretty good, and the overall experience is worth enjoying even if you end up just watching a complete playthrough on YouTube. I’ve been Weise, aka Thomas, and this was my review of Maize. Thank you and I hope you enjoyed.
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