The Maw Review

The Maw - XBLA

Info:

The pinnacle of alien evolution, Maw can, however, absorb the traits of anything he eats, is virtually indestructible, and can grow to unlimited size. If he wasnt a danger to all life in the universe, hed make the perfect pet. In the action/adventure game The Maw, hes the best friend of our hero Frank, and only by working together, can Maw help eat their way to freedom.

Players: 1
Released: 2009


Reviewed February 2009 by Jamie Davies

There haven’t been many 3D adventure titles for the downloadable games scene to date, doubtless because of the size restrictions. Now that Microsoft’s platform is expanding its file size as well as its horizons, The Maw is a good example of just what can be squeezed on to the platform.

Playing as Frank, a yellow space suited alien, the game opens with him being bundled on to an alien vessel by his un-named captors. The ship crashes, marooning him on a planet along with the rest of the ships occupants. Notably The Maw, a purple gelatinous blob with an insatiable hunger. Befriending the little blob like some sort of ravenous guard dog (including an electronic leash for leading him around) this sets the two of them off on an adventure to avoid being recaptured and escaping the planet. Which see’s Maw eating just about everything he can fit in his mouth. The more he eats, the bigger he gets – a lot bigger in fact, until he literally dwarfs the once superior Frank.

The game itself is quite short; split up over eight different levels but it cleverly forces the player to achieve a certain size for Maw before they are allowed to progress, prolonging things slightly. During the time the game lasts it maintains an amazingly cute and polished atmosphere. Only the most cynical or hardened heart wont smile at the The Maw’s comedy expressions, trying to douse himself with water when he eats something too hot, or Franks charming call for Maw when he strays too far away.

Ultimately the games brevity is definitely to its benefit because it means no two stages really require the player to keep repeating the same sort of task. Much of this centres on The Maw with his ability to take on the traits of some of the creatures he eats. These allow him to belch flames or pump him full of air to act like a huge balloon and while the simple puzzles won’t have you scratching your head, they are entertaining to solve.

The downside to the games length is that there isn’t much replay value once it’s been completed in a couple of hours. The player can go back and try and eat 100% of the creatures on each level but this isn’t particularly tasking and, aside from some achievement points , the player will have seen everything on offer so there’s no real incentive to do so.

The Maw is bright, colourful, genuinely heart-warming and funny; an amazing example of why more developers should be trying to use the downloadable games scene on consoles to produce 3D titles.