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curses.z5
latest version of the game
For all systems. To play, you'll need a Z-Machine Interpreter - visit Brass Lantern for download links.
curses.z3
first released version, lacks much of the material in later versions
For all systems. To play, you'll need a Z-Machine Interpreter - visit Brass Lantern for download links.
Curses.sol
solution
CursesR16.sol
solution
curses_rel16.txt
author's blurb
Curses.step
solution

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Curses!

by Graham Nelson

Haunted House/Historical/Travel/Time Travel
1993

(based on 77 ratings)
6 member reviews

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?"
[--blurb from The Z-Files Catalogue]

Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: 16
License: Freeware
Development System: Inform 6
Forgiveness Rating: Cruel
Baf's Guide ID: 55
IFIDs:  ZCODE-16-951024-4DE6
ZCODE-7-930428-0000
TUID: plvzam05bmz3enh8

Spoofed by Coke Is It!, by Lucian P. Smith, Adam Thornton, J. Robinson Wheeler, Michael Fessler, Dan Shiovitz, and David Dyte

Awards

22nd Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of all time (2011 edition)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide


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

Gaming Enthusiast
The game is huge, well-written and thoroughly enjoyable, even though some puzzles prove to be a hard nut to crack.
See the full review

SPAG
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)
See the full review

SynTax
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)
See the full review

Xyzzy News
"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)
See the full review

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(33)
4 star:
(23)
3 star:
(14)
2 star:
(6)
1 star:
(1)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


20 of 22 people found the following review helpful:
Overwhelming, September 24, 2008
by Peter Pears (Lisbon, Portugal)
I make a point of not saying something about a well-discussed game unless I have something to add to the discussion. This game is over ten years old, and pretty much everything has be said about it, so I'll just add the one bit of information I didn't find on other reviews.

I won't talk specifically about the puzzles - they are an assorted bunch, of varying fairness but always strung with logic. I won't talk about the atmosphere much, either - I loved it, anyway. I won't even talk about the fairness, or lack off. That's old news, and no one who goes to play "Curses" today expects anything less then a mother of a challenge.

What I'd like to add to the discussion, and especially to any newcomers to the game, is simply how overwhelming the game is.

I don't mean big, though the game map is *huge*. I don't mean complex, thought it certainly is. I don't mean rich - well, not EVERY single mentioned object is implemented, but nevertheless this is one of the richest experiences you could hope for. I don't mean hard - though it is, of course.

I pretty much mean all of the above tied up with an uncanny ease of entering unwinnable states, and it's the first thing I'd say to anyone who wants to give it a go. This game is overwhelming. For many people, this is a compliment. For others, not so much.

Anyone who wants to play this game should know what they're getting into. There's a very rich and colourful history to the family of the PC. There's a huge game world. There are puzzles all around - and some don't even look like puzzles, not until you've looked at a walkthrough, realized that they *were*, and re-tuned your mind for this game. There are many places you can visit only once, and little to no indication of whether you did all you could and should. That means, of course, innumerous chances for dead-ends - often unwarned. There are details which you're likely to miss in the text, unless you get in the habit of careful reading... a habit worth forming for this game, I admit, as it's very rewarding.

Me, I think this is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much. I SO wanted to like this game more. I really stuck with it. I could have dealt with the huge geography, the rich and complex history, the enormous inventory list, the ability to discover the past in my own time and way (provided I solve puzzles, of course), even the one-visit-only rooms.

I can't deal with all of these at the same time, though. Especially since the game just gives you more and more and more and more and more. The game just never stops giving. Again, for some people that's perfect, and for some other people that's just too much.

So I'm rating it a 4. The only reason I don't rate it a 5 is because it was too much for me... though that doesn't mean I feel it doesn't deserve a 5.

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
A long lasting puzzle-fest, September 1, 2008
by Maze (Rome, Italy)
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.

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Curses, lagach, December 21, 2010
by ragnaR
Related reviews: Curses twisty
I'm of an age so I remember playing adventure games on 8 bit computers... I was bored and discovered google's "Twisty" app for android and thought I'd give it a go. It comes with Curses pre-loaded. Without a walkthrough and lashings of hints I'd have got nowhere. But even with a heavy dose of cheating and a poor input device the game is still totally absorbing.
I would have given it five if I thought for a minute that anyone had actually completed this game without external help.
Still I suppose it's a little like cryptic crossword clues.. the more you do it, the better you get.

See All 6 Member Reviews

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Polls

The following polls include votes for Curses!:

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I am looking for the games that, in your opinion, you simply must have played in order to really call yourself an IF aficionado. Or if someone wanted to play N number of IF games in order to get as good an overview of the IF classics...

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This is version 10 of this page, edited by Edward Lacey on 22 September 2013 at 12:16pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item