I was never a huge fan of platformers, but I did enjoy a Banjo Kazooie here, another Banjo Kazooie there, so I figured out that I could give The Maw a try and hopefully love it, especially since it comes from indie developers Twisted Pixels (not to mention the fact that The Maw was considered a real success on XBLA – and all that for just $10.
The game first starts with a “problem”: cut scenes that can’t be skipped, and I always dislike that, even though I generally watch the to stay up do date with the story. Even more, the first 10 minutes or so with the Maw are mostly cut scenes and just moving forward in order to trigger even more cut scenes. Add to that the fact that the story itself is not that obvious, despite the lengthy cinematics, and you have a bad start.
Fortunately, that’s the major turn down – one that will soon be forgotten once the real gameplay kicks off. You are on a strange planet, surrounded by colorful yet even stranger beings, you’re walking forward without knowing why and you’re controlling a little one eyed purple beast whose main purpose in life is eating and growing bigger and bigger and bigger. And yet all these things, plus many more, put together, create a wonderful game, a relaxing, casual and fun experience!
There are a few very smart things regarding the gameplay in The Maw: first, you control Maw (the purple creature) by guiding it with the help of a leash, but the creature has a will of itself and, especially if left alone, will eat whatever it can. So you don’t have to always look after it. Then, except for growing bigger and bigger, Maw also takes a few characteristics from the creatures it eats: feed him with small fire dragons, and it will spit fire, burning everything in front of him. Feed him with rhinoceros bugs and it will grow a horn, lose its minds and blast everything ahead, while dragging you behind. And much more similar things that add up and keep making you “Wow” after seeing them in action.
And although the game isn’t a long one, the levels, characters and platformer puzzles in it are quite diverse and entertaining, so you’ll get value for your money – even though, obviously, nobody would’ve said “no” if we would’ve been offered more.
The visuals, all colorful and cheerful, are great and clever even though not overly varied and the sounds are simply amazing, from the cheerful soundtrack to the sound effects that go great hand in hand with the light and fun feeling of the game.
All in all, even though not lengthy nor a real “bomb”, The Maw is a very enjoyable and fun game, especially if you love such platformers and you’re ready to test some relatively new gameplay methods and enjoy a nice paced game and some delightful creatures. It’s not a title you’ll write in your “best game ever” notebook, but it’s one you will greatly enjoy to the end and then once more. And, yes, it’s cheap, too!
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