American McGee’s Crooked House

 The truth is, I am not much of a puzzle gamer, as it were. I prefer more action-oriented titles, but the review of the occasional puzzle game never hurt anyone (see my review of SPB Quads here). My problems with puzzlers are not typically the fault of the game, but the fact I’m not smart enough to figure out the puzzles. I had no such problems with Crooked House.

Crook2 I installed the app on my iPod touch running OS 3.1.3. It’s not too terribly huge at 41M, so a wireless download from the App Store is not totally out of the question. Remember to reset your device after installing new software (hold down sleep and home buttons until the apple appears). I had no issues running it at all… The app developer is Spicy Pony, who offers at least one other iTunes puzzle game called DexIQ ($0.99).

Crook3 The game starts up with a shot of the Crooked House, and an alert that it is setting something related to your location. Not sure what it needs location info for, except maybe for the “+plus” online community, I guess.  The game back-story is essentially an extension of the original poem. My brief research indicates some macabre refs from other works, so the dark settings of the game fit with the weirdness described therein. The music is Vincent Price vintage sounding stuff that loops a lot.

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Crook4 Bottom line, the crooked little mouse is caught in the weird crooked house, and your job is to help it escape the various crooked rooms without dying. The death is typically a shredding by cat claws, smashed into pulp, or similar gory ending. The puzzles amount to sliding objects around until your mouse can run unmolested through to the goal.

Crook5DeadMouse Crooked House does not have much in way of sophistication, and in fact sliding around objects is about all you do. The puzzles become increasingly more difficult as you progress to higher levels. Once you have the puzzle objects in their proper locations (the puzzle part), you tap the mouse and he tries to run for the far exit or the cheese. If you were remiss in getting the sliding obstacles to their correct spots, he will get stuck and die. If you take too much time in this task, a cat’s yowl is heard, and your mouse gets shredded. If the objects strike your mouse while being arranged, he will die. If he drops too far, he will die. Why can’t they have just given the damn mouse a flamethrower or something?! Sheesh! I know, not that kind of game…

CrookOptCrookHelp Crooked House has choices for control scheme between tilt or finger swiping, and social gamer features denoted as “+plus” which I surmise allow you to post scores and participate in on-line events. The game includes a good help tutorial, though you will quickly figure out the objective. Some objects can be used to your aid, even though they may be anathema to directly coming in contact with your mouse. For instance prickly or sharp objects can be used to destroy other objects. Some objects in the crooked house slide opposite to others. What’s a mouse to do? Flamethrower, I say! …sigh…different game.

This game is not exactly boring, though I may make it sound that way. It just isn’t really my cup of tea (no flamethrowers), but even I found myself looking forward to more sophisticated levels after getting my mouse safely across the gauntlet a few times. It draws you in over time, but the music is a little monotonous after awhile. I think a few more engaging death graphics would be cool, and I think you should be able to see the cat’s paw swiping your mouse to bloody strips, maybe even a control option to try and dodge or something. Crooked House is $1.99, and if you are looking for a simple, yet engaging puzzler, check it out in the app store here

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Nate Adcock is a system and integration engineer with experience managing and administering a variety of computing environments. He has worked extensively with mobile gadgets of all shapes and sizes for many years. He is also a former military weather forecaster. Nate is a regular contributor for the and blogs and helps manage both websites. Read more from Nate at or e-mail him at