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MacGuffin's Curse

Preview: Lupine comedy in MacGuffin's Curse

4:00 PM on 03.10.2012 // Victoria Medina

MacGuffin's Curse is an adventure puzzler that promises comedy, addictive puzzles, and a compelling story. The name alone should give you a hint at the humor, and the puzzles are reminiscent of those found in Zelda-style dungeons. Without having completed the game, it's impossible to say how fulfilling the story is, but it does have a nice hook to keep you playing.

With all the indie games coming out every month, it's hard to know which ones are worth looking forward to, but this title is certainly one to keep an eye on. There is adventure, romance, and creepy little girls in abandoned parks.

MacGuffin's Curse (iPhone, iPad, Mac, PC [previewed])
Developer: Brawsome
Publisher: Brawsome
Release: April 19, 2012

The entire story centers around the thief Lucas MacGuffin. When you meet him, he is about to break into a museum to steal the Lupine Twine Amulet, but because it would be a very short and boring game if everything went smoothly, Lucas sets off alarms which put the entire city on lockdown. He also puts the amulet on, gains the ability to turn into a werewolf, and discovers he can't take the necklace off. At least he doesn't go only halfway when making a mistake.

Each area is made up of a number of rooms or sections which are all standalone puzzles requiring a mix of MacGuffin's human and lupine skills. As a human, you can push buttons, open doors, and crawl through windows, and as a werewolf, you can move boxes, clear rubble, and dig. The only way to change is by standing in pools of moonlight. Should you get stuck on a puzzle, P.I. Strump, an ex-detective who bullies MacGuffin into teaming up, will lend a "helping hand," by which I mean he'll insult you then tell you what to do. If you really mess up and get completely stuck, there's even a reset button, and fortunately, there's no penalty for hints or resets.

Controls are simple, at least on the PC, as there are labels for everything. The direction keys control movement and another two keys control all other interactions. This is also a good time to mention that there no version of this game is a port of another -- each version was worked on separately to avoid any weird or awkward control transitions between platforms.

The entire adventure is filled to the brim with dialogue, and not just between MacGuffin and his pals. You can examine just about everything in the game and make comments on them. Quite a few such observations were amusing enough to get a laugh or a chuckle out of me, like one that made mention of "a guy in red and white stripes hiding behind a tree." The writers don't take themselves too seriously, and that sort of gleeful tomfoolery was highly entertaining.

Instead of fully animated cutscenes, you are treated to hand-drawn comic strips that progress the story, while scraps you find through exploration provide backstory. These static comics fit well with the rest of the art, especially the character portraits you'll see during dialogue.

When interacting with other people, there are multiple dialogue options, many of which are very funny. There seems to be only one correct choice to advance the conversation, but selecting the other options are usually kind of amusing.

Besides talking to everyone you meet, there are also vaults to open, money and comic scraps to collect, and a home to decorate. There are probably even more things to do that I didn't get to yet, but the game looks like it will have a bit of everything to keep you entertained. It seems like a good mix of causal and serious gameplay for anyone interested in puzzlers or adventures.

There's another month to go until MacGuffin's Curse sees release, but the Brawsome team seems to be on the right track. Hopefully, the puzzles will present a bit more of a challenge further in, and I'm slightly concerned about whether the level of comedy can stay so high without becoming tired. However, what I have seen so far looks promising, so I have high hopes for this quirky indie game.

Victoria Medina, Contributor
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