Review

MacGuffin's Curse

Ready To Werewolf

The lupine puzzler MacGuffin’s Curse has plenty of charm but not enough variety.

By Samantha Nelson • May 17, 2012

After successfully stealing a valuable amulet from a museum exhibit, Lucas MacGuffin discovers that an armed thug is lying in wait to take his hard-earned prize. Lucas bides his time with some banter, waiting for the moonlight to hit him. Then it’s time for his big moment: He reveals himself as a fearsome werewolf. The thug promptly beats Lucas upside the head with his crowbar and knocks him unconscious.

Twilight and Being Human may have made werewolves hot, but there’s nothing sexy or dangerous about the lycanthrope star of MacGuffin’s Curse. A stage magician turned burglar, the plucky but none-too-bright Lucas is mainly concerned with paying his rent and figuring out how to remove the cursed medallion that he slipped on during a heist. Unfortunately his caper has put the entire city into lockdown mode, turning it into a series of boxy rooms with doors that can only be opened by solving puzzles.

Transforming between human and werewolf is the key to solving each room. In human form, Lucas can activate security panels, open doors, swim, and crack safes. As a werewolf, he can claw through obstacles, intimidate guards (possibly just with the power of his doggy breath), and dig up hidden treasure with puppy-like glee. No matter what form he’s in, he’ll take the time to steal anything that’s not bolted down, to fund the purchase of pathetically awful furnishings for his impoverished family.

MacGuffin's Curse

Since Lucas can only transform in patches of moonlight, you need to carefully navigate and arrange the board. It’s not enough to be in the right place at the right time—you’ve also got to be in the right form, human or werewolf. Most rooms involving moving heavy objects onto power switches that turn off laser grids, say, or activate bridges. It’s easier to figure out what needs to go where is easier than getting it there—determiningexactly how to push and pull a box through the maze-like grids, requires trial and error. Expect to press “R” to reset the level with regularity. With time, more difficult wrinkles appear, like boxes that can only be pushed, not pulled—which certainly makes the game more challenging, but no more fun.

If you’re stuck, you can get a hint from your hard bitten P.I. partner Strump, though these are often frustratingly vague, like “You’ll need precise transformations to solve this one” or “It will be easy once you get the battery on that panel.” Of course it will be. If you’re really stumped, Strump will solve it for you by simply opening the next door—not granting you the satisfaction of seeing what you were supposed to do. Plus, you don’t get the reward of watching Lucas’s happy “level complete!” jig

MacGuffin's Curse

The game has a great self-aware sense of humor. Lucas complains, for instance, about the ridiculousness of security systems that are activated by moving around bulky batteries. When being asked to take on a task, he says that he has to write it down in his “quest log,” which obviously is not like a diary, because it’s cool. The secondary characters are entertaining, too, like way-too-enthusiastic reporter Judy and Lucas’s adorable daughter Ruby, who make taking on quests enjoyable. While the visuals arebasic, the scenery offers plenty of jokes and some groan-worthy puns.

MacGuffin’s Curse provides some enjoyable breaks from its standard levels, such as “fights” where you chase an adversary around the board tossing heavy items while catchy, fast-paced music plays. Unfortunately, you can only move boxes around for so long before it starts to feel tedious. The game has plenty of personality, but not enough variety to maintain lasting interest.

MacGuffin’s Curse
Developer: Brawsome
Publisher: Brawsome
Platforms: iPhone/iPad (Universal Binary), PC 
Reviewed on: PC
Price: $5

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519 Responses to “Ready To Werewolf”

  1. Cloks says:

    So wait for the Steam Summer Wallet Emptying Bonanza on this?

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      I dunno. You could wait for the inevitable sale and/or bundle, but it’s not as if $5 is all that much for a game that’s roughly eight hours long (to do everything). The art is charming, the humor (if you’re into the self-deprecating wit of adventure games) is satisfying, and the puzzles get increasingly complicated (swinging doors, Zelda-style whirlpool teleports), if you’re into that. 

      My one complaint is one I agree with Samantha on: this mechanic, however jazzed up, grows tedious, since you move things slowly and there’s no undo button for when you accidentally push an un-pullable block out of place. Better to play in chunks than straight through.

  2. Raging Bear says:

    I bet those groan-worthy puns start to drive you lupey after a while.

  3. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    The five different styles of forced perspective visible from the screen shots alone is enough to give me vertigo.

       Fortunately, it’s the adorable Lucille 2 kind.