The Maw puts players in the role of protagonist Frank, an alien, who has been captured and jailed into a space-jail along with other funny-looking creatures. When the ship malfunctions and crashes down on a foreign planet, Frank meets ‘Maw’ who with its help, aims to escape the world and head for home.
Maw eats other fantasy creatures ranging from the appropriately named Yums, to the cutely named Snuffles. In doing so, Maw can grow bigger and even learn new abilities. Frank discovers an electronic lead which can guide his new friend around the game’s brightly coloured and attractive environments. This child-friendly appearance of the game reminds me of Viva Piñata, which despite being cute-looking, was a very addicting gameplay experience. The same could be said for The Maw.
On many occasions whilst playing the game, I would pick up the controller and couldn’t force myself to put it back down. The way in which the game’s levels are appropriately timed; the fact that you cannot be killed and the game’s puzzles are at a difficulty which can’t be faulted, all add up to make you want to play maw, literally.
Something that can be faulted is the length of the game’s story mode. Coming in at about the three hour stage, the story seems to finish before you really even begin. The lack of multiplayer or online features doesn’t clock up any extra minutes onto the total game time which lets the game down. The only real reason you’ll go back to a level is to unlock the game’s achievements.
As you would expect, the game contains twelve achievements worth a total of 200 GamerScore and about 100 of that can be easily unlocked by completing the story mode once. After the completion of the story mode the first time round, players can jump into any level they like in order to obtain the remaining achievements. The prize for the most awkward achievement goes to “Six Meals a Day” which requires players to play The Maw at Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dunch, Dinner, and Midnight. It is pretty self-explanatory why.
The achievements are not the only reward for playing The Maw. Players can unlock various gamer pictures and even a premium theme throughout. This was common in original Xbox Live Arcade titles and it is a nice treat to see its return.
The Maw’s audio is rather minimal as you’ll often hear the odd cry of ‘Maw,’ though at times it can be very effecting. During the opening cutscene, I noticed that when the spaceship was crash-landing, not only were the sound effects coming from my speakers, but the controller was vibrating rather intensely. The game’s simple tutorials are great for getting to grasps with the buttons. The simplicity of it just goes to show that games can appeal to a broader audience and all possible ages.
Despite the replayability issues with the game, I feel it is 800 Microsoft Points well spent. There is enough in the short story mode that hooks you in and keeps you entertained, even if it may only be for an afternoon or so. Let’s hope we see maw from The Maw, in the future.
- Brightly coloured and attractive graphics
- Addictive gameplay
- Unlocking Gamer Pictures and Themes
- Short story
- Lack of game modes
- Awkward camera angle when Maw becomes big