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.
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.
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+