The Curse Review
How do I review a game I'm too stupid to play? This is a question I kept asking myself after being befuddled, bamboozled and baffled by The Curse, a puzzle game that will have you scratching your head for hours on end.
Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm a stupid guy (debatable), but The Curse will test your logic and puzzle solving skillset like no other game out there. Sure, you've seen these kinds of games before -- riddles, Sudoku-type puzzles, picture matching, etc. Some puzzles are a breeze, like a few of the riddles and block-sliding ones. Others are extremely tough. Puzzle #21 is a picture of spaghetti broken up into tiles. You have to rotate the tiles to form the picture, which is next to impossible to do because it's all a bunch of noodles. Plus it's timed, which makes it even worse.
You aren't restricted by the puzzle order which is nice. You can flip through all 100 puzzles and play the one you want. Use the slider bar at the bottom to rapidly scroll instead of flipping a page at a time. Those with a keen eye will notice different symbols at the top of some puzzles after you've solved them. These are clues for other puzzles in the game. The Curse is a puzzle within a puzzle, which will make you pull your hair out if you haven't already.
There are 101 puzzles to solve. (The game says 100, but there's a bonus one.) Your adversary is the Mannequin, a masked stranger who taunts you throughout the game with some pretty interesting cut scenes. He's there to remind you that you won't be able to solve all of his puzzles. Believe me, pal. I don't need you to tell me that. He'll try a mind trick with a deck of cards (it's an old card trick if you've seen it before), ask you to spin his wheel of mischief, call you on the phone or even try and kill your iPhone battery. I enjoyed the cut scenes but thought some of the voice work was rather weak. Not sure if it was how they mixed the audio, but in some spots it didn't sound very clean.
Touch controls are very responsive, and the presentation is really nice. I even enjoyed the repetitive music. The Curse is fun because you never know what to expect next or when the Mannequin will pop up to taunt you again. You can go into the Gallery section and watch any cut scene you may have missed because you were too busy banging your head against the wall. (I missed 90% of them.)
Some puzzles are timed, some give you a certain number of turns. I'm not a fan of timed puzzles. A small dinosaur brain like mine needs a good amount of time to figure these things out. Luckily, and not surprisingly, you can purchase hints that will help you. Hints won't solve the puzzle for you, but they'll do some of the leg work if you're stuck at a starting point. Trying to burn all the knots in a rope puzzle? A hint will get you started and let you know which knot to start with and where to go from there. The rest is up to you.
There are some help guides online, and I'm sure more will pop up in the days and weeks to come, but help guides are frowned upon by the Mannequin because you're not giving him in-app purchasing money. You can boast about what happens during the game via Twitter and Facebook if you wish. They should give you a free hint for doing so, otherwise there's no real point to posting about what you beat in the game.
I'm curious to see where Toy Studio Media and MojoBones take this series. There's more to come, and I'm sure they'll expand upon the puzzles and world of the Mannequin in future installments. Hopefully I'll be smart enough to figure them out. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to practice making more "D-uh!" noises after using another hint.