Should I be excited about… Maia?
I was pretty keen to give Maia a bash when I saw the teaser trailer for it. It had an interesting premise, some pretty cool architectural options, nice looking possession mechanics and even an interesting goal. Sadly the game falls short of many of the promises the teaser makes, in it’s current state.
Maia is, or is trying to be, a game all about building. You start off with a team of scientists and a robot, all of whom are outside of your immediate control. Instead, you are given the ability to build rooms and assign tasks such as build objects in said rooms or dig out some rock to make space for more rooms. The logic behind it all is solid as far as base builders goes, it’s just the execution that’s falling short.
Firstly the UI is very light (except when it wants to spam you with messages). There are three buttons to use: a cursor for examining and digging, a room tool for room placement and an object tool for the placement of object blueprints. The cursor is pretty simple – it gives you details on objects you hover it over or it lets you dig out the earth, nothing wrong with that. The room tool isn’t too bad, just find some empty space and select a room to build in it using the 0-9 keys to scroll through your options. The object tool isn’t a nightmare to use either, by selecting it then using the b and v keys you can cycle through an array of blueprints to place in your base, these blueprints change depending on the room you’re in. It’s all pretty simple right? Well…
The first, and lesser of problems here is that because the UI is so light you’re relying on scrolling through the options for both the room and objects tools to find out what you’re about to build – there’s no indications of what’s next in the list of blueprints or what number on your keyboard corresponds to what room in the rooms list. It all feels like a bit of a guessing game of what you’re going to build initially.
The second problem here is specific to the build tool, and possibly more to do with the AI in the game. Outside of building a workbench and any number of doors, any blueprints I placed were completely ignored by crew members, instead they would simply stand in the supply room and corridors completely lifeless (I was getting more life out of the door at the far end of the base that seemed to enjoy rapidly opening and closing again). The little robot helper was unique in that he’d actually respond to commands to dig out space for more room. However he also had a penchant for picking up minerals dug out from the ground and there was no indication of what to do with these minerals or how to store them to free his weary arms.
The worst experience through all this was when a crew member jumped to life and decided to take a stroll outside in the poisonous atmosphere. Without a spacesuit. When he promptly died, a quick examination told me that he required immediate attention, however there was no indication that I could do anything to help him. The other crew were standing still, the robot was happily clipping through a wall, the dog was having a stroll outside breathing in the toxic air like it was normal air. Everything was dandy except for this one dead guy.
Considering this core problem of not really being able to do anything, it’s hard to say there’s a game here. There’s certainly a lot of potential, especially if you look at the developer’s proposed schedule for the next few updates, but currently there’s not enough here for me to tell you to go spend money on it. Keep your eye on this one, but save your money for when it’s out of Alpha and has more of a game to share.