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About the Story
"As "Curses" opens, you're hunting about in the attic of your family home, looking for a tatty old map of Paris (you're going on holiday tomorrow) and generally trying to avoid all the packing. Aunt Jemima is potting daisies and sulking; the attics are full of endless distractions and secrets; Greek myths, horoscopes, sixth-century politics, a less than altogether helpful demon, a mysterious bomb plot, photography, ritual, poetry and a dream or two all get in your way; and somehow you keep being reminded of your family through the ages, and all its Curses... ...could it be that even you are Cursed?"
Language: English (en)
Current Version: 16
Development System: Inform 5
Forgiveness Rating: Cruel
Baf's Guide ID: 55
Spoofed by Coke Is It!, by Lucian P. Smith, Adam Thornton, J. Robinson Wheeler, Michael Fessler, Dan Shiovitz, David Dyte
In this game, you play the current owner of Meldrew Hall, a stately home of England. You start innocently enough, searching the attic for a map of Paris, but quickly start discovering occult gateways to other times and places linked to your family's increasingly mysterious history. Needless to say, there is a family curse, but just what is its nature? A very large game, with atmosphere galore - Meldrew Hall has a rich history, given mostly in the form of offhand comments in room and object descriptions. Well-researched, well-crafted, and pervaded by dry wit. Locations vary from the ordinary to the exotic to the bizarre. Puzzles are tough but logical. Hints are available from characters in the game, but many of the harder puzzles are covered inadequately. Contains tarot cards, a T. S. Eliot scene, and a couple of small, benign mazes. One puzzle requires what I consider to be an abuse of the command syntax, but this is arguable (and has, indeed, been argued at great length.) In general, though, this is an excellent showcase of Inform's capabilities, and a good example of what you get when a whole lot of people sit down and discuss game design for several years while one person listens and takes notes.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
How would you react when a seemingly simple situation in your attic transformed into ancient magic, past and present places and times, a mental tour of your own history, a "chance" to control the fundamental basis upon which the universe is founded, the discovery of ancient powers utilized by Merlin himself, Heaven, Hell, robot mice, and of course curses? I don't know about you, but I reacted by becoming glued to my terminal for about 50 hours straight. (Molley the Mage)
Curses is a classic, and it must be treated as such. Nelson has studied the great Interactive Fiction tradition from as far back as ADVENT and collected the elements that define the medium. He then blended and used them in a skillful way to create a masterpiece. (Nick Patavalis)
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All in all, an engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable text adventure. I'd rate it up there with the Unnkulians and that's a quite a compliment coming from me. It's tricky but not impossible and I very much enjoyed the author's sense of humour. (Marion Taylor)
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"Curses" well qualifies for the title of "interactive fiction" as compared to the "adventure game" which strings together puzzles with little relation to the storyline. Apart from the descriptions, which are generally well written with an eye to atmospherics, you'll find bits and pieces of family lore that weave back and forth across a historical canvas, sewn together by your efforts. When (if) you finish the game, it should all make sense... more or less. (Conrad Wong)
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Number of Reviews: 12
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
This game is a puzzle galore. It is long. It is tough. It is great.
Starting from your mansion's attic, you simply have to find a Map of Paris, for your soon-to-be holiday trip. Though what this game does, is show you how a simple task can become incredibly arduous. You'll discover family memorabilia, curses, and travel time (and not only that). *Only* to find that blasted map. Nevertheless, don't let this banal task deceive you: Curses is full of atmosphere, and the stories you'll discover around your mansion - and around your ancestors - will totally capture you.
Again, this game is long. Both because it is big (very big, almost huge), than because the puzzles are so tough that you'll spend ages wondering how to solve some of the most difficult ones. But if you take notes (and you'd better - and you'll also want to draw an accurate map), you'll find that all the puzzles are quite logical, and this is extremely good for a puzzle game. The only drawback is that some of the logical deductions/connections you'll have to do are so hard that they're almost impossible, and maybe they might've been implemented better (but this doesn't mean they're badly implemented).
Al lot of the stuff you encounter is not considered (you might well find a table in a room description, and get a "you can't see such thing" message when examining it). But, for once, this is no drawback, because it allows you to concentrate on the important stuff.
On the bad side, sometimes Curses can be really frustrating. It is easy to get stuck (tough puzzles, remember?), and also to reach an unwinnable condition, because a lot of what you do is irreversible, and you might not be prepared. Though, if you pay attention and save often, you will catch the wrong actions soon enough.
Overall, if you are a puzzle lover, you HAVE to play this game. This will be a real challenge, and if you can complete it without any walkthrough, go out and buy yourself a prize: you're a genius (sadly, I was not, and had to recur to some help in a few of the most difficult situations).
If you don't like puzzles instead... well: go away ;-)
One last note, about a thing which is always given as expected, but which I'd like to point, for such a complex IF: this game must've taken many months of development, then more months of debugging, and IT'S FREE!!! A bow to Graham Nelson, and to all the makers of huge IFs out there.
I really enjoyed the game in the beginning. Sure, I got stuck almost immediately, but I pulled up a walkthrough to get a general idea of what I was supposed to do. I made my way through a large chunk of the game, while writing down important pieces information and hand-drawing maps. I was starting to feel good until I got stuck again. I then realized I'm messed something up ~15 save files ago. Never would have guessed it was a mistake.
Well, I went back and fixed my error, but when the same thing happened again I packed up all my notes and maps and moved onto another game. I didn't want to follow a walkthrough word-for-word, but it felt like that was the only way I was ever going to finish.
Perhaps I'm simply not experienced or patient enough, but this just isn't a good game for me.
I am a seasoned veteran, having played most of the old Infocom games during my teenage and into my 20s(I am now 46). So, I went into this game thinking that it would be an easy one, thinking that I would 'whip' it in only a matter of days. It took me almost 3 weeks. The game is incredibly intricate, covers a lot of territory. I would not recommend it to a beginner, the Zork series is difficult enough--in Zork, you have only ONE wand(which is not even yours), in Curses!, there are more than TEN! This game also has teleportation, time travel to various places, the obligatory maze, plenty of NPCs. There were a couple of places where I had to start over, because I had missed an object irrevocably---I was in the kind of space that most IFers dread, where you flounder about, wondering what to do next and get this strange feeling that you had missed something, then finally give in and consult the walkthrough, only to find out that you were really to supposed to take X or do Y while you were in Z location and time(in addition to doing what you DID do), when you thought you were done with that area(and, of course, there's no way of going back). Yes, there were a couple of places in this game where I thought it wasn't being 'fair' in its description of the place or clear as to what was to be accomplished in this or that area, and if you are not accustomed to examining EVERY object, or searching EVERY possible place, and mapping EVERY accessible passage and room, you might get stuck. There were a few objects that were hidden in places that were not prominently or directly referred to in the room descriptions. Also, I think something must be said about the sequence in which the various areas(and there are many) in this game are played and solved--some must be solved before others and there is at least one that must be completed during your first--and only--visit. With all that said, I had fun with this game. I am a veteran, so while I was a little frustrated with the inconveniences mentioned, I must admit that they are par for the course in games like this and the author, if asked about them, would probably just say, 'That's life! It's part of the challenge!' I had fun with the hint system built into the game(and the reader will understand what I mean when s/he encounters it). In fact, I would advise any player, new or experienced, to save the game very often, at every new discovery, and use the hint system to 'the max', by saving his/her position near where the hints are being offered(which is easily worked out). Again, this is a big game, with many fronts, puzzles at every turn, especially at the house. A tour-de-force for the experienced IFer.
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