The Maw is a great example of a solid, if unspectacular arcade title. It's cheap, it's short, but it's fun while it lasts. Sprinkle a good dose of charm on top, and The Maw becomes an enjoyable little romp that many should consider to be worth the price of admission- even if it fails to leave any sort of lasting impression.
Like many arcade games, The Maw is straightforward in nature. You lead this purple creature around, feeding it anything and everything in sight. The Maw can grow in size and gain powers as it consumes innocent critters, which allows you to access new areas. And the cycle continues. A few things help The Maw to be more enjoyable than simply going through the motions. First, it is really enjoyable to witness The Maw's progress. Watching it grow and smash through previously impenetrable barriers as it acquires new powers has a certain charm to it. The Maw's reactions to its own progress only increase this satisfaction, as it gets all excited about everything it eats. Which is awfully cute at times- it's as if you were raising some sort of pet. But there is also a slightly dark side to this, as The Maw's victims are usually just as cute and innocent as The Maw itself. The way the game balances this dynamic is pretty entertaining, and does a lot to infuse life into The Maw's primal world.
The game's light platforming elements are also to be enjoyed in their simplicity, even if they won't blow you away. There isn't really any challenging aspect of The Maw, as you'll generally know exactly where you need to go, and how you need to go about getting there. But the controls are fluid, and the variety of The Maw's powers mean that you rarely see the same scenario twice. The game's length probably has something to do with this, as it isn't really long enough to allow any sort of repeat scenarios. I probably didn't spend more than three or four hours with The Maw, and as far as I can tell, I did everything there is to do. This is kind of a bummer, because I enjoyed pretty much everything in the game.
The Maw is a charming little platformer from start to finish, even if the finish comes a little sooner than I would have hoped. Still, $10 seems to be a perfectly reasonable asking price, and should be worth paying for anyone who is looking for a fun adventure that will preoccupy them for a few hours. It may not stand out in any significant way, but The Maw should generate more smiles than frowns, making it a generally solid arcade title.
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