Brawsome have a lot to live up to; 2010’s Jolly Rover won Best Australian Game at the Freeplay Awards and won critical praise across the globe. Following that up was always going to be a challenge, but MacGuffin’s Curse has managed to not only match their previous hit but surpass it in almost every facet of gameplay and design. It may have suffered a delay somewhere along the line, but it was well and truly worth the wait.
What MacGuffin’s Curse Got Right
Story-telling prowess – Puzzle games often lack when it comes to story-telling, however MacGuffin’s Curse puts this quality front and centre as one of its strongest points. Lucas MacGuffin is a magician turned thief, who steals a cursed amulet that gives him the ability to turn into a Werewolf. From here we’re thrust into the town of Feyre, which has come under an almost Big Brother level of control. Through the characters and foes the player meets along the way, they will uncover Lucas’ past and future, both bringing hilarious and often thought provoking results. Brawsome have managed to create a comedic classic, one that stands proudly next to the classics of yesteryear.
Perfect pacing – MacGuffin’s Curse isn’t exactly a hard game to grasp, but the guys at Brawsome wanted to ensure that anyone can pick-up the game and start playing. The opening areas serve as a tutorial-like experience, but it never feels like one. They use the story of Lucas’ quest to cleverly disguise the easy opening, and then gradually build up the complexity of the puzzles and rooms. The game really hits its stride after players have an encounter with the leader of a particularly rough biker gang, progressively giving more freedom to the player.
In terms of puzzles, Brawsome have proven that less is more. After those opening sequences of the game, you’ll know everything needed to complete every puzzle in the game. The goal is always clear, yet the puzzles are always challenging and thought provoking. Human Lucas can use control pads, jump through windows and swim in water, while Werewolf Lucas can dig for buried items, push and pull crates and batteries, and swipe to break items. It may not be overly complex, but it works on so many levels that it feels utterly perfect.
Filled with content – While there may not be huge variations in the puzzle design, MacGuffin’s Curse is splitting at the seams with content. Practically everything in the game world has a story waiting to be discovered. Players can inspect items, which often yield hilarious tastes of gaming and pop culture references. There are comic strips hidden throughout the game which tell us a little more about Lucas and his story, which really flesh things out for the player. With a number of rooms that cannot be accessed until a later period of the game, there are plenty of reasons to go back and explore for more items and exciting sites.
Fantastic visual and audio presentation – In a world where it seems every indie game is spewing out 8-bit “retro” sprites, it’s rather refreshing to see a werewolf comedy puzzle adventure that has a unique art style. It’s the little things that really stand out, like when werewolf Lucas’ eyes bulge when something surprises him, or the way Lucas’ hands waggle when floating in water. The music is really fitting for the action also; a catchy and memorable soundtrack that truly builds the atmosphere behind this mystical adventure.
Cloud saving – A feature that is not utilised enough! MacGuffin’s Curse features cross-device cloud saving, meaning if you start the game on your iPad and you move across to your iPhone while on the train, you’ll be able to hit the ground running from where you left off. It’s a fantastic feature that truly makes the game portable.
What MacGuffin’s Curse Got Wrong
Controls aren’t perfect – There are good points and bad points about the control scheme for MacGuffin’s Curse on iOS. Unlike most games who confine your control pads to a certain section of the screen, MacGuffin will register your input no matter where you place your fingers. It works well; single finger to control movement and two-fingers to control push and pull. However I found myself accidentally exiting rooms while trying to solve puzzles because I had accidentally dragged my finger just one square too far. It doesn’t break the experience, but the controls can feel a little loose at times.
Won’t appeal to everyone – I scratched my head after spending almost a month with MacGuffin’s Curse, looking for something I could put in this section of the review. Top-down puzzle games simply won’t appeal to everyone, and thanks to the mash-up of puzzle and adventure games, there will be a few out there who simply don’t see the appeal. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just the worst thing I could think of about the game, which is saying something.
The Final Verdict
MacGuffin’s Curse is a testament to the powerhouse that is Australian indie development. A near perfect experience that demands your attention, this should definitely be on your radar. A fantastic story which is fleshed out the more you explore will keep players hooked for hours, not to mention the top notch audio and visual presentation. If you want to spend the best $5 of your life, go to Steam and buy MacGuffin’s Curse without delay.