In a Nutshell: The Maw is a third-person perspective action game about an alien and his side-kick who eats everything possible.
“The pinnacle of alien evolution, Maw is a cowardly fat blob concerned mostly with snacking and lounging. He can, however, absorb the traits of anything he eats, is virtually indestructible, and can grow to unlimited size. If he wasn’t a danger to all life in the universe, he’d make the perfect pet. In this action/adventure game, he’s the best friend of our hero Frank, and only by working together can Maw eat their way to freedom. The Maw was honored with the Audience Choice Award in the 2008 PAX-10 showcase of independent games, and is a finalist at this year’s Independent Games Festival for Technical Excellence.”
- Fun Rating: Fun
- ESRB: E 10+
- Players/Mode: Single-player / Campaign
- Game Duration: 3-6 hours
- System: XBox360 (XBLA)
- Developer: Twisted Pixel
- Website: http://www.mawgame.com/
- Cost: 800 Microsoft Points
- Demo: available on XBLA
|Would I play this again?||yes|
|Would I recommend this game?||yes|
|Was the story good?||delightful|
|Was the music good?||absolutely|
|Were the graphics good?||yes|
|Was this game difficult?||no|
|Was this game frustrating?||no|
|Was this game offensive?||no|
|Was this game worth your time/money?||yes|
Playing the game
In The Maw, the player assumes the role of Frank, a recent captive who has just survived a crash landing and acquired a new friend, Maw. You will need to lead Maw around to devour things so that he will grow larger and the two of you can escape from whoever captured you in the first place.
Use the left thumb-stick to walk around and the right thumb-stick to change the camera angle. Most of the button controls have to do with the “power leash”. While primarily used to guide Maw around, the leash allows you to grab onto other things and creatures and either throw them, smash them, hang from them, or pull them. (Don’t forget to check on your progress using the RB button.)
What the game gets right
Twisted Pixel went all out on the Adorable Scale for this game. Frank and Maw are some of the cutest and most lovable characters I’ve seen in a while and the developers did a terrific job bringing these two personalities to life. This game also has some fantastic music that is perfectly blended with the inviting and visually delicious environment. By the way, any chance of a sound track or a Maw plushie?
What the game gets wrong
The pace of the game seems to drag a bit in just moving around the levels. There’s no way to skip a cut-scene, either, making it a little painful the third time through the opening of the first level or watching Maw realize in every level that he is now large enough to proceed through the checkpoint (Your Maw must be “this” big to go on this ride.)
There’s no way to save in the middle of a level. As each level is only about 20-30 minutes in length, the lack of ability to save wherever is not too huge of an issue, just a little annoying.
Why is it that the only time Frank can look up is during a cut-scene? While having a top down view available is helpful to find a path you might have missed, it seems that having a tilt-up feature would be helpful for showing off the environment. It would definitely help in getting your bearings and finding the “Look Here!” question marks.
Could anybody read the text for the stats at the end of the levels? Or was the incredibly tiny text simply due to the 19″ tube tv I still use?
Sum it up
Whether they wanted it to or not, this game ventures into some moral gray areas concerning the cost of survival and freedom. (Disclaimer: I have probably over-thought the game to come to this conclusion.)
I like it when games are intuitive or, if they’re not, for the game to give me a tutorial. For me, The Maw was overly helpful and made it feel like it was in a constant tutorial mode. After asking my wife, who rarely plays video games, to give it a try and watching her play the first couple of levels, I can see why the game is so helpful. This is where having a difficulty level would be a good idea, I would think.
Before I had a chance to play this I saw an annoucement that Twisted Pixel will be releasing at least three more levels for The Maw. Now that I’ve played the game proper, I’m excited to see what they come up with in the new levels (and really want to know what the backstory is). Give the demo a try and let me know what you think of it.