April 20th, 2012 | By Emerson Smith
It was supposed to be a simple heist, but it landed Lucas MacGuffin into an adventure filled with mysterious women, an angry ex-cop and a tail. MacGuffin’s Curse is a light-hearted puzzle game which features over 100 side quests and just as many “individually sealed rooms” that you will have to lead MacGuffin through.
A puzzle game needs good puzzles and developer Brawsome delivers in MacGuffin’s Curse. The puzzles usually revolve around restoring power to the door or opening the path in some way. Similar to Q.U.B.E., the puzzles revolve around manipulating objects in the rooms, rather than getting Lucas MacGuffin to the exit. If you are not careful, you can lose key pieces need to finish each puzzle. Luckily, you can reset every level and try again with the simple press of a button. Each environment is scattered with objects which you can examine as either Lucas’ human or wolf form. Each bit of text provided helps flesh out Lucas’ character and, more often than not, drop corny one-liners that brought a smile to my face.
In each room, Lucas has to utilize his ability to change into a wolf and back to solve the puzzles. As a human, Lucas can operate buttons, swim and use the hand scanner to exit each room. As a wolf, he can push large objects, destroy some weak barriers, intimidate npc’s, dig through dirt and mark his territory. Some of the best puzzles are when the game incorporates other NPCs. For example, there is a gang leader named Crow who has a piece of evidence you need. To clear the puzzle, you have to push a heavy box in front of him. He smacks it with his crowbar and the force of the impact sends him reeling backward, crashing through some of the rubble of the junkyard. He runs off and pushes more objects in your way. The interactions with the other characters add an interesting flavor to the rooms and make the puzzles about getting Lucas across the level, striking a contrast between the usual pace of the other puzzles.
MacGuffin’s Curse operates in an open world structure, which is strange for a game of its genre. After the first bit of puzzling in the game, a mysterious woman gives you a map. As you enter new locations you can fast travel from one to the other by simply opening it up and selecting another area. This makes backtracking virtually non-existent, which is good when almost every location in the game is a puzzle. Characters like annoying journalist Judy, ex-cop Strump and others all provide meaningful interactions with the player. Strump is particularly helpful because if you get stuck in a puzzle, you can radio him in to help you solve it. He has three hints that he will give you and they are really helpful when you find yourself stuck in a bind.
The sound design for MacGuffin’s Curse fits the cheerful tone of the rest of the game. While you may not notice it, the light ambiance will fade into the background and blend with the visuals to help drive the setting of the game. Visually, MacGuffin’s Curse feels a bit schizophrenic. While it is easy to see what everything is and pick up on visual cues, there are three different camera views that the art is drawn from. The walls resemble a top-down viewpoint while Lucas and the other characters are drawn as if they belong in a side-scrolling game. Some objects are drawn between these two views to add to the confusion. The assets themselves are beautifully done, but the multiple viewpoints give the game a haphazard look as if the developers could not decide and threw it together anyway.
Despite the minor visual misgivings, MacGuffin’s Curse is a fun and corny experience. While the jokes can sometimes be a hit or miss affair, the charm that Lucas and the cast brings to the enjoyable puzzles makes MacGuffin’s Curse endearing. If you enjoy solving puzzles and light humor, you should not miss this entertaining new entry by Brawsome.