Giant Bomb Review


The Maw Review

  • XBGS

The Maw is a brief, yet engrossing, journey that leans more on its charm than its gameplay.

I'm a fan of Pixar movies. With the exception of maybe Cars, I am willing to shell out the hard cash for a few hours of some cute, though occasionally biting, humor. That's probably why I'm a fan of Twisted Pixel's new downloadable title, The Maw. Taken purely as a game, it's noticeably short and you'll mostly be running around doing some light platforming and hitting button prompts. Ah, but as entertainment, The Maw delivers that kind of wholesome, fuzzy charm that leaves you smiling and completely satisfied.

Actions definitely speak louder than words in The Maw.
The brief introduction takes place aboard what, I assume, is some kind of futuristic, alien cargo ship en route to an intergalactic zoo. The game has no real dialogue or exposition, opting instead to communicate everything you need to know through its highly expressive characters. It's in this would-be detention block that you'll first meet the game's main protagonist, Frank.  The multi-pupiled Frank is probably the chattiest fellow you'll encounter in the entire game, with a vocabulary amounting to two words: “Maw” and “Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwww.” Luckily for him, and you, Frank becomes fast friends with another, more jello-like alien, named...Maw. Talk about a perfect match.  I suppose the relationship between the two is more akin to a boy and his dog than a pure friendship, as Frank will be subsequently dragging Maw around any given level on what is essentially a high-tech leash for the remainder of their time together.

Immediately after this brief introduction, the ship crashes and you and your friend-dog, Maw, find yourselves marooned on a rather odd planet. As Frank, you seem to excel at being an exceptionally nice guy. But the nice-guy-mechanic is not what progresses you through the game's lovely, yet brief, few levels. Instead you'll be making use of Maw's ability to inherit special talents from the creatures he'll be constantly devouring. If Maw eats one of the local fiery lizards, for example, he'll gain the ability to breathe fire, obviously. If he eats one of the multi-eyed-peacock-ostrich things, he gains the ability to shoot lasers from his eyes...obviously. These special traits are used to progress through the level, usually by solving some puzzle that disables a barrier or turret which has been deployed to block your path. Oh yeah, those guys that originally captured you are still around, and they will be trying to hinder your progress until the very end of the game. 

As Maw continues to eat the various indigenous creatures he'll periodically increase in size, which, I have to say, is awesome. He'll go from being around the size of an alien fire hydrant all the way up to...well...I don't want to spoil it, but let's say, rather large. A larger Maw can eat larger creatures and eating enough creatures will allow you to progress to the next level. This formula doesn't vary too much, but gaining each new ability and, to some extent, increasing Maw's size, is always a treat. Maw's physical appearance will change according to what he's eaten and he'll even exhibit some tweaks to his personality. It's all extremely adorable, and if that description makes you want to punch a kitten in the face, then I suggest you not play this game. 

Set Maw free dude! No blood for Maws.
While Maw is busy eating things and endearing himself to your inner child, you'll be guiding Frank as he finds ways to fatten up his buddy and progress to the next area. Frank's fancy laser leash not only drags poor Maw around, but it's what you'll use to interact with the environment. Occasionally, you'll be asked to move some heavy rocks, yank a creature out of the ground, or even hurl various objects into each other. Along with the minor platforming, none of this is very challenging and you'll often be prompted for the correct button press when a new action is required, but it's interesting enough to keep you engaged during your brief stay with the game.

The whole game won't last you more than a couple of hours, maybe a little longer if you're really trying to eat everything in sight. After completing the game you can go back to any level and and try to devour anything you missed, but since there are so few levels, you won't be very taxed in doing so. Really, this game is all about its personality and your willingness to lose yourself to its charm. For an enjoyable little jaunt that has more “awww” than “raaawwwwr,” The Maw is well worth the price of admission. Vinny Caravella on Google+
32 Comments Refresh
Posted by norton123

Great Review. The game certainly looks adorable.

Posted by Shinryu

The maw was indeed a very good game, albeit too short.

Posted by pepper

I have been downloading and spending way too much money on downloadable games in the past month. So I am going to lay off of this one.

Edited by darkjester74

Good job Vinny!  =)

I really enjoyed it, I'm going to go back and go for 100% completion.  I am excited to see what Twisted Pixel's next project might be, I think they really nailed it for a debut title.

Posted by F1

Looks very fun.

Posted by MagusMaleficus

No love for Cars, eh? Larry the Cable Guy just not do it for ya?

Posted by pirate_republic

nice review vinny... I'll dl it tomorrow.

Posted by Snail


Posted by mubress

Nice reviewing, I'd play it if I had an Xbox.

Posted by Kohe321

Looks like a fun game, great review Vinny!

Posted by RHCPfan24

YEAH! Another Vinny review! Good to see it!

Posted by monkeyman864

its great game

Posted by killdave

For the small price I paid for the game I actually had a lot of "fun".

Good value, fun, and cute

Posted by lilarchie232

I always enjoy Vinny's reviews, very funny yet informative.

Posted by Civraz

Looks pretty good. Might have to check this one out

Posted by CoinMatze

Great review as always, Vinny. Just looking at the game makes me go all warm and fuzzy in my tummy. And now I feel bad, because I can't get that image out of my head of putting a fist to a kitten's face. Damn you Caravella!!

Posted by Brackynews

I see plenty'o'DLC in our future.
Also I'll cite Maw and Castle Crashers as games that need to re-evaluate the effectiveness of making the trial demo the first boring level.
Later levels are AWESOME.

The Abilitease works for many reasons, first of which is it prevents the opening minutes from being a drag.

Posted by John

I love the Maw!

Posted by ArclightBorealis

I think so far Xbox Live Arcade is the one thing that still has me considering getting a 360. I've been on a streak of arcade or shorter games as of late, and if I ever got a 360, I'd sure download this game.

Good review, Vinny.

Posted by Sunjammer

Man i really enjoyed playing through the game, but it's 10 freaking dollars for an experience that's over in a couple hours and has zero replayability. It needs to be said that the game basically doesn't challenge you. Literally. This is the easiest game i have played in years. I'm not even sure it's an actual game so much as an interactive animated short. You can't die. Did anyone tell you that? And i'm not talking Prince of persia style You Get Saved, i'm talking you will never actually take any sort of damage or be otherwise penalised. Even getting shot the shit out of by CANNONS will just launch you off in the air a bit.

To reiterate, you will have absolutely NO problems just breezing through this. It's the sort of game you can play with your feet and still have great success.

So 800 points, i think, is far, far too steep. I will never return to the game again after my first playthough, and it's tempting to actually delete the thing from the harddrive because it has even less purpose being on it than those old DOAX2 saves.

A few hours of exquisite animation and fantastic music, in incredibly repetitive environments.  This is the definition of a one-trick pony. It's very easy to like but i actually regret spending the points on it. I guess i'd compare it to paying 10 bucks for a hug from a really hot girl or something.

Posted by RenegadeSaint

Nice review.  As far as value goes, 3 hours / $10 is equivalent to 18 hours / $60.  Sure there's no replay value, but that wouldn't sour most people on the $60 game, as long as the experience is enjoyable.

Posted by Dib9394

Great review, Vinny. The game actually looks fun, too bad I don't have an Xbox 360. :(

Posted by JCisG

I really like your reviews Vinny.

Posted by Metamorphic

Nice review, like always.


Posted by Psynapse

Nice review Vinny, i loved the quick look that you guys did on this one. When i get the internet at my new place i think i'll pick this one up!

Posted by Anthony_Galindo

I don't regret spending my money on it at all. It may be a little short and a little simple, but it's adorable rating is through the roof!

Edited by PLWolf

I'm really enjoying my time with this game. It's definitely lasting longer than 2 hours, as I've been working for 100% eaten in each level. Plus I've been smashing, burning, electrifying everything in sight. lol
It really is a cool little game that's lots of fun.

Posted by Media_Master

Cool, now when will it come out to PSN, if at all?

Posted by CitizenKane

This sounds like a fun, quirky little game.  I might have to get this.

Posted by MacGyver

Vinny, you review was 100% eaten. :)

Posted by LordAndrew
Posted by L

Liking this title a lot. Very simple and fun title to pick up and play whenever. I like to play one level at a time and then come back to it later. I agree with the review. The charm is probably the best thing about it rather than gameplay.