How do you feel about crates? If your response is anything less than unbridled enthusiasm for pushing those suckers around, drop MacGuffin’s Curse and back away slowly: this lycanthropic Sokoban is lousy with them. If, however, you have the kind of mind that thrives on simple rules that can be moulded into near-endless fiendish permutations, this homegrown head-scratcher will quickly earn an enduring place in your heart.
When Lucas MacGuffin breaks into a museum to steal an amulet so he can pay his rent, the heist turns hairy – literally. Fusing itself to his skin, the amulet grants Lucas the ability to become a werewolf in the moonlight. While Lucas searches for a way to remove the amulet, he’s pursued by the resident evil millionaire, who’s set the entire city on lockdown in a bid to trap Lucas and usurp the amulet’s power. This means that nearly every door Lucas encounters can only be opened by pushing a battery onto a terminal in order to override the security.
Though the fact that Lucas can control his transformation makes it seem less of a curse and more a really neat party trick, the concept does add some depth to gameplay that essentially amounts to classic block-pushing puzzles. In his werewolf form, Lucas is strong enough to smash through debris blocking his path, but can’t swim. As a human, Lucas can squeeze through windows and operate switches, but those crates won’t budge an inch.
Negotiating these obstacles while making sure you can reach moonlight to switch between modes when necessary forms the basis of some surprisingly challenging puzzles, though the difficulty curve is smooth enough that by the time the going gets tough, you’re already hooked. There’s a graduated hint system to nudge you in the right direction if a particular puzzle is giving you grief, and you can even skip them entirely – though doing so robs you of the chance to read some fascinating developer commentary once each room is completed.
With over 150 rooms to test your wits, the game has some real legs. Even if the puzzles start to feel a little samey after a while, there’s enough variation in the environments to keep things visually interesting – sure, you’re still pushing a whole lot of crates, but at least you’re doing it everywhere from a mansion to a junkyard. You’ll also find yourself sticking around for the consistently sharp writing. Dialogue is slathered in sardonic wit, and though there must be dozens of desks in the game, each seems to come with its own quip. That attention to detail permeates every layer of MacGuffin’s Curse, creating a wonderful emulsion of charm and challenge that makes it well worth your time.