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Score: 70%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Finish Line Games
Developer: Finish Line Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Maize is an adventure game that follows the tradition of having the player wake up in the world, giving them no real direction, and letting them explore to figure out exactly what needs to be done. Unfortunately, the game's attempts to be odd and quirky tend to get in its way, making many points in the story more frustrating than necessary.

Visually speaking, the world of Maize, which consist of a corn field, a farm house, a few farm-related buildings and a large underground facility, looks okay, but it is never anything that will blow you away. Even with the graphic settings turned up to "Epic" I found the textures to be on the better side of average. While not bad, I don't think I would call it epic.

Maize fills the speakers with some generic background music to keep the quiet of the very empty surroundings from feeling too oppressive, and while that music does it's job, it isn't going to stick with you very long. While you are mostly alone in the game, you will run into a few other inhabitants of the farm. There are the sentient corn stalks that are trying to help you, the queen of the corn, and another corn stalk that was apparently experimented on to the point of insanity. There is also a robotic bear that you build. This Russian knockoff Teddy Ruxpin constantly insults you and is your companion from the point you assemble him to the game's final scenes. When it comes to the game's voiceovers, Maize hits the nail on the head with the queen corn and that odd one having unique and distinct voices, while the rest of the sentient corn stalks seem to share the same voice actor, which is fitting considering how similar they are to each other. As for the teddy bear, Vladdy, the Russian accent feels right and fits his ill-tempered dialogue quite nicely.


As I said above, Maize throws you into the world without any real idea of what you are getting yourself into or what you need to do. When the game starts, you find yourself in the middle of a cornfield maze that quickly leads you to a large and derelict farmhouse. While the farmhouse is the center of the maze, it isn't actually where you will be spending most of your time. Instead, it will be in the underground laboratory that was built so that the two owners and their odd assortment of employees could bring corn to life.

As you explore, you will find sticky notes from the two owners as they communicate with each other. It is quickly apparent that, while they have a long-standing relationship, they don't actually work well together and they arranged their schedules so that they would never actually have to interact, thus the notes. I found this to be an amusing way to convey the story of what happened to this abandoned facility, and you will often gain necessary clues about progressing in the game by reading both those notes as well as various other files that are left sitting around.

While a lot of the first part of the game leaves you alone with the exception of the rare interactions with the sentient corn, you do eventually build Vladdy. The bear ends up being a handy companion for specific events, but most of the time, he is there to insult you as you try to solve some of the odd puzzles Maize throws at you.

Those puzzles are purely inventory-based, and while most of them are straightforward, a few of the solutions make little sense even after you've solved them. Oddly, the game makes hotspots very apparent. Each item you can interact with, be it an inventory item to pick up, a note to read, or something to apply an inventory item to, is outlined in bright light. To make matters a little more unusual, a lot of times a hotspot showing where you need to put an inventory item is shaped like the object that needs to go there. That's right, no real guessing that you need to put a ladder in that location; it looks like a ladder. Sometimes examining an inventory item outright says where you need to use it. I know the character I'm playing isn't very smart, but come on, don't assume you need to tell me exactly what to do. And yes, it does that on several occasions, but I'll rant about that in a bit.


Maize's more difficult parts come when the next step in your journey is either completely unknown to you, or the fact that something you did changed something else somewhere in the world and you didn't realize it. The primary culprit of both of these issues are the strange orange boxes that are scattered around the facility to block your path and keep you confined to certain areas. Apparently, the corn likes to occasionally move these boxes and reposition them so that new ways are open to you and other ways are blocked. While the game sometimes tells you "A new path has been opened," you don't know where and, quite frankly, it doesn't always let you know that happened. So, when you do know it happened, you have to work your way across the entire area that was open to you, hoping to recognize a path you couldn't previously go down. This is most frustrating early in the game when you are still walking around a corn maze and have to take many twists and turns to visit each of the stacks of boxes and verify that they are still in their place. Couple that with the fact that the game doesn't always let you know this happens and I found myself often taking a tour of the boxes after completing an action, unsure if I somehow opened an area that was blocked before. This aspect gets a little less frustrating when you are underground and are mostly confined to a few passageways instead of a winding maze, but the frustration I found early in the game stuck with me for a long time.

As for the puzzles themselves, while most of the solutions were strange, I only rarely came across a problem that was downright baffling. There were a couple of occasions where I simply had to try out all of the inventory items on an object to proceed, but those were few and far between. Unfortunately, I found a couple of instances where I knew what I needed to do in order to proceed, but the game wouldn't let me complete the task. I did find that my intended solution worked after I walked away from the game for a bit, which leads me to believe there might be some bugs in some parts of the game since a rebooting of Maize had proceeded both occasions where the solution to the puzzle didn't work when I first tried it.

In the end, the game's overall difficulty is all over the place. Periods of being completely lost are coupled with parts where the game tells you exactly what to do and both extremes damage the pacing and feel of the game as a whole.

Game Mechanics:

While I generally found the story and puzzles of Maize to be enjoyable, there are some issues that make this a hard game to truly recommend. First of all, there appears to be a pretty bad memory leak in the game. As I spent time in Maize, I would start to get lag that would clear up after quitting and restarting the game. I eventually got to the point where I had Task Manager open on a different monitor and could see the memory usage steadily increase even if I just stopped moving and let the game idle. I found that I could typically get about 45 minutes of gameplay in before the memory usage got so high that the lagging would start, and I had to close it down for a bit. This is a severe technical issue that could drastically limit some people's playtime depending on how much RAM they have in their computer.

Technical issues aside though, I had problems with some fairly basic adventure game design choices. For one, the aforementioned boxes that would move without any logical explanation make for a frustrating experience since it felt like I was artificially being kept away from areas the developers didn't want me to visit yet. It basically felt like the designers couldn't think of a good puzzle to actually keep me out, so they came up with a mechanic like this and tried to claim it is part of the game's so-called eccentricities. Instead, it makes for a frustrating experience since an adventure game shouldn't have seemingly random events happening in them; there should always be some kind of logic behind what happens in the world. Even games like Sam & Max that strive for ridiculousness don't have comments that pop up on your screen that say "Also, for no apparent reason, a new path has been opened to you." Seriously, the game told me that. What?

On a similar note, the game will often lock you in a room and force you to do everything they want you to do and then literally tell you how to get out, and the option they give you cannot be done until you've performed whatever actions you needed to do in that room. But surely that means the way to get through the locked door has to do with the items you picked up or the tasks you completed right? Nope, often times, the game will display text saying you should send Vladdy into a vent or have him interact with a door and he can get you out. Mind you, before that message, you couldn't interact with the door/vent/whatever. To make matters worse, there never really seemed to be any reason to actually lock me in. If I need the items in that room, then eventually I will find and interact with everything I need to. As a long time adventure gamer, I can't recall any other time a game like this has held my hand so much in order to make sure I got everything I needed and then literally told me how to solve a puzzle so I can get out of a room that didn't need to be locked in the first place.

I really can't see anyone who truly enjoys the adventure game experience liking what Maize has to offer. Many choices the developers made are frustrating and the lack of predictable cause and effect situations just add to that feeling. If you simply want a game with a strange story, then maybe check Maize out when it is on a Steam Sale. Hopefully by then, the memory leak issue will be resolved.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 7 or above, 64 bit, Dual-core Intel or AMD, 2.0 GHz or higher processor, 4 GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 460 GTX | AMD Radeon 6870 HD series or higher graphics card, DirectX Version 11, 11 GB available space

Test System:

Intel Core i7-3820 CPU @ 3.60GHz, 16 GB dual-channel DDR3,Windows 10 Home 64 bit, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (4GB)

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