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Curses!

by Graham Nelson

Haunted House/Historical/Travel/Time Travel
1993

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Reviews and Ratings

5 star:
(43)
4 star:
(32)
3 star:
(16)
2 star:
(7)
1 star:
(1)
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Number of Ratings: 99
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- faffpaper, April 11, 2018

- Autymn D. C., December 18, 2017

- Zape, October 17, 2017

- ifMUD_Olly (Montana, USA), April 21, 2017

- Spike, February 26, 2017

- Greg (Los Angeles, California), February 11, 2017

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Stuck and rage quitting, December 6, 2016
by piffling-paka (State College, Pennsylvania)
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.

- JcmMike, September 20, 2016

- miren, July 25, 2016

- NinaS, July 3, 2016

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Not for the beginner..., June 8, 2016
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.

- Denk, February 21, 2016

- Teaspoon, January 29, 2016

- Snave, January 11, 2016

- Janice M. Eisen (Portland, Oregon), November 15, 2015

- Catalina, November 8, 2015

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Too clever or too smart?, September 28, 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!

The quintessential interactive fiction game, April 5, 2015
by MathBrush
Related reviews: more than 10 hours
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.

- Thrax, March 11, 2015

- prevtenet (Texas), January 27, 2015

- morlock, January 14, 2015

- Floating Info, January 5, 2015

- BlitzWithGuns, August 4, 2014

- Jason McIntosh (Boston), April 15, 2014

- shornet (Bucharest), March 23, 2014

- Deychrome, March 20, 2014

- namekuseijin (anywhere but home), February 4, 2014

- KidRisky (Connecticut, USA), January 22, 2014

- Brown_Cow, March 20, 2013

- ptkw, March 7, 2013

- Marshal Tenner Winter (Truth or Consequences, NM), November 18, 2012

- ProminencePen, August 24, 2012

- E.K., July 31, 2012

- kala (Finland), May 25, 2012

- Jim Kaplan (Jim Kaplan has a room called the location. The location of Jim Kaplan is variable.), March 24, 2012

- purplehuman, January 10, 2012

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), December 17, 2011

- MonochromeMolly, December 10, 2011

- Nav (Bristol, UK), November 24, 2011

- trojo (Huntsville, Alabama, USA), October 10, 2011

1 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Curses, indeed, September 17, 2011
by Deboriole (San Diego, CA)
I really liked this game when I first started. Finding a map in the attic sounds like a wonderful puzzle! Unfortunately, my curiosity got me stuck very early on and I had no idea how to progress. (Spoiler - click to show)I read a book from the bookshelf and was transported to a garden. I had no Idea how I had gotten there or how to get back. It was completely frustrating and disorienting. I am not sure I want to even try this game again, if this sort of thing is bound to happen. I like games that make logical sense and so far as I can tell, this one doesn't.

- dacharya64, September 3, 2011

- troels, August 8, 2011

- calindreams (Birmingham, England), July 14, 2011

- André St-Aubin (Laval, Québec), May 31, 2011

- RandomExile, May 19, 2011

- Felix Pleșoianu (Bucharest, Romania), March 18, 2011

- dryman, February 4, 2011

- Walter Sandsquish, February 2, 2011

- NoiselessPenguin (London, UK), January 27, 2011

4 of 7 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.

- Alder (San Francisco), August 15, 2010

- Muskie, August 13, 2010

3 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
Grr, May 27, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)
Okay, I tried to like this game. The writing was good, and the concept seemed simple enough- but I just couldn't quite get into it.

I got annoyed right off the bat by some poor implementation. When you enter a room, a key falls down in a crack in some floorboards. Your heart sinks as you wonder how you're going to get it back.

But you can't refer to the key, crack, floorboards, or floor in any meaningful way. Can't examine them, look at them, etc. Is that key not important, or is this under-implemented.

Then I find a map I'm looking for in a glass demijohn.

>HIT DEMOJOHN WITH WRENCH
The demijohn is made of something like industrial-grade chemistry glass. You kick it and hurt your foot.

I found this odd considering that HIT [something] and HIT [something] WITH [something] must be specifically programmed seperately.

The writing was good and I wanted to get into it, but I found myself frustrated by these. (Granted, I didn't expect breaking the demijohn to work, but kicking it and hitting it with an object should definately be seperate). The other reviews on here make me think it gets better, but these two things happened right away, and I played this twice and tried to like it, but couldn't.

- lavonardo, April 28, 2010

- Azazel, April 2, 2010

- lupusrex (Seattle, WA), October 3, 2009

- Alessan, August 20, 2009

- jahilia, August 1, 2009

- GDL (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), July 8, 2009

- Guenni (At home), June 3, 2009

- Mark V. (Madrid, Spain), June 2, 2009

- Hipster Scumbag, May 4, 2009

- Mastodon, March 26, 2009

- John D, March 14, 2009

- ., March 3, 2009

- albtraum, February 8, 2009

- Shigosei, February 1, 2009

- Katt (Michigan), January 16, 2009

- Linnau (Tel-Aviv, Israel), October 31, 2008

- burtcolk, September 3, 2008

13 of 16 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.

- Genjar (Finland), August 31, 2008

- schifter (Louisville, KY), August 17, 2008

- Martin Braun (Berlin, Germany), July 29, 2008

- LisariaUS, July 17, 2008

- Timo Saarinen (Finland), July 14, 2008

- Lonedale (Tula, Russia), June 30, 2008

- Zoltar, June 22, 2008

- Mike Ciul (Philadelphia), June 4, 2008

- Dave Chapeskie (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada), April 23, 2008

- brattish (Canada), April 7, 2008

- jfpbookworm (Hamburg, New York), February 25, 2008

- J. Robinson Wheeler (Austin, TX), February 22, 2008

- Dan Schmidt (Boston), January 31, 2008

- juandesant (Granada, Spain), January 2, 2008

- oddgrue (California), December 30, 2007

- Tyrog, December 13, 2007

- Miron (Berlin, Germany), December 10, 2007

- VK, November 26, 2007

- Jonathan Harford, November 19, 2007

- ErWenn (Bloomington, IN), November 18, 2007

- Alan De Smet, November 11, 2007

- Wesley (Iowa City, Iowa), November 11, 2007

- Stephen Bond (Leuven, Belgium), October 26, 2007

- Sami Preuninger (New York City), October 23, 2007

- zer, October 22, 2007

- Emily Short, October 19, 2007

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

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