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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 82 ratings)
7 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)

41st Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of all time (2015 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:
(36)
4 star:
(25)
3 star:
(14)
2 star:
(6)
1 star:
(1)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 7
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


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.

The quintessential interactive fiction game, April 5, 2015
Curses is the first game I think of when I think of interactive fiction, together with Anchorhead. Sprawling, light-hearted, with a compelling backstory and cast of supporting characters.

For me, the beauty of the game is in the development of the plot, with a continually increasing sense of wonder. Another wonderful aspect is the open sandbox feel; this is a very non-linear game.

Although the game is very difficult (I've played through it three times, and had to resort to a walkthrough every time), there are so many puzzles that you will still solve quite a few on your own. Many puzzles have multiple solutions, or can be bypassed completely.

*Amusing things: There are three characters that have interesting reactions to all ten of the (Spoiler - click to show)rods. Those characters are (Spoiler - click to show)yourself, the knight, and Austin.

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Too clever or too smart?, February 18, 2015
Of course, this game is very well written, and there is a lot of findings and innovative ideas, even two imaginary languages have been created, making the gameplay quite unique. There are some humorous comments, there are parts which are very realistic while others are oniric (and sometimes absurd).
Nevertheless, the game greatly suffers from the fact that it is extremely difficult, requiring the help from a walkthrough, and absolutely unfair to the player, up to the point that the author seems to have forgotten that a game (or a novel, or whatever) must not be done for oneself but for others to enjoy. Let me sum up the weakpoints:

* too many puzzles are of the "guess-the-verb" type. Sometimes the verb is common, but the action is absurd. Some examples are (Spoiler - click to show)go port, say time, say yellow, turn noise, tighten the skull, push cat to, jump, wave branch, blow whistle, "hole,!go west", etc
* the command "look at" is poorly implemented ("you see nothing special about...") where it could have been used to give a small hint to the player and make the game a lot more enjoyable. This is also the case for other commands and objects, as explained in another review of this game on this website.
* the order in which you visit locations is vital. If you visit them in the wrong order you can get stuck without knowing it! The problem is that you are not allowed to teleport twice to the same location using the device (Spoiler - click to show)the projector using cards, so you are not free to explore, and guess the solution by some trial-and-error. And there are no clue of what is the right order, or the clues are very obscure.
* some objects are absolutely mandatory to finish the game, but these objects must also be magically converted at some point to other objects(Spoiler - click to show)(rods). The problem is that they can not be converted back, so you get stuck long after having wrongly converted the object, thinking doing right, with the only option to restore a previous saved game.

In conclusion, unless you like twisted and cruel games, and don't bother saving/restoring a hundred times and restarting from the beginning several times, don't play this game!

See All 7 Member Reviews

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Polls

The following polls include votes for Curses!:

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Links




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