Game Reviews

MacGyver: Deadly Descent

Star onStar onStar onStar offStar off
MacGyver: Deadly Descent

You remember MacGyver, right?

He wasn't quite at the top of the '80s TV cheeseball tree – that honour is reserved for The A-Team and Knight Rider – but he ranked up there alongside The Equalizer, and to a lesser degree Street Hawk.

As was obligatory then, the titular character had his very own shtick: limitless resourcefulness and a cheery attitude in the face of mortal danger.

So any game that sports Angus MacGyver's name (yeah, Angus. He kept that quiet didn't he?) demands some degree of lateral thinking and quick action. But can a thinly veiled puzzle game compendium cut MacGyver's mustard?


The setup of the game, while long-winded and strangely comic book-themed, certainly lives up to the MacGyver legacy. A job needs doing that involves breaking into somewhere that's un-break-into-able. (At least, for anyone other than Mac.)

It's also been brought up to date, so the security systems you're tasked with overriding aren't mechanical locks and huge motor-mounted CCTV cameras. They're laser motion detectors and high-security electronic doors.

Representing these vulnerable systems are six different puzzle-based mini-games. Well, we say mini-games, but they're actually all the gameplay mechanics that MacGyver: Deadly Descent includes. And while they're suitable enough, they don't really reflect the ingenuity of the TV character.

Where's the duct tape?

Nowhere to be seen are the Swiss Army knife or duct tape -the two weapons used by the real MacGyver. Instead you're given recreations of games like Deflektor, where you're required to carefully position mirrors to redirect laser beams, or square-sliding puzzles that ask you to manoeuvre blocks in a specific order to complete the challenge.

Each level does increase its intrigue by having you switch between puzzle types depending on what's required, and when combined it can be fun to deflect a few lasers and then rewire a circuit to disable the security system.

The timer is rarely against you though, unless you care about points, and that also seems to clash with the 'always against the clock' nature of MacGyver's adventures.

That's not to say these are bad mini-games in any way, and all six are decent versions of their inspirations. But they don't really represent the secret agent task at hand, and that tends to break the game's momentum.

The developer appears to have made attempts to address this through some great artwork for the comic book sections, and decent array of 3D graphics, but the effort hasn't been entirely successful.

MacGyver: Deadly Descent would arguably have fared better if it hadn't been based on an iconic TV show, with all the expectations that association brings. But it is.

If you've never seen an episode and Angus MacGyver is a stranger to you, then you may enjoy the gentle pace of the puzzling, but if you're looking to have your McGyver itch scratched you'll probably go unsatisfied.

MacGyver: Deadly Descent

A nice compendium of puzzle games, but lacking much of a connection to its TV heritage