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Video Game / Curses!

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Curses is a 1993 Interactive Fiction game by Graham Nelson.

You play as a member of an old aristocratic family, the Meldrews, who are currently packing for a trip to Paris. You start off in the attic of your family's mansion. Your task is to find that old tourist map that should be somewhere around here... except that you keep stumbling into weird supernatural stuff and getting involved in centuries-old family business.


Contains examples of:

  • Anti-Frustration Features: The inventory system. Not only does the backpack carry everything you need, the game will (usually) detect when you need to take something out of your bag before using it, or need to put something else in your bag before picking something up, and do it for you.
  • Blatant Lies: The demon always lies when giving you answers — some times more obviously than others.
    "No, Hell itself is a marvellous place, and it has an excellent health club too."
  • Debug Room: Version 12 has an otherwise unreachable room called "Graham's Lair", allowing the developer rapid access to various parts of the game. Once the debug verbs are unlocked, 'xtravel' takes the player there.
  • Female Angel, Male Demon: The angel is female and the demon male.
  • Fission Mailed: Putting the Grim Reaper, Drowned Sailor or Fool tarot cards in the slide projector and trying to enter the resulting image gives the standard ***You have died*** message, followed by:
    Or have you? No... this isn't quite the end. You see an intense blue-white light at the end of what seems a tunnel, and drift toward it until you realise that you are staring, dazed, into the light of the slide projector, and have not moved at all.
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  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: The heavenly place.
  • Ghostly Chill: In the area where Sir Joshua's ghost manifests.
  • Hereditary Curse: A curse placed upon the family prevents them from finishing tasks.
  • Hint System: The demon and angel, who can tell you about various subjects or objects in your possession.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: There's no limit to what the backpack can hold.
  • Hypothetical Casting. In-universe. Examining the demon and angel tells you that if you were to cast a film of your adventures so far, you would hire Donald Sutherland to play the demon and Judi Dench to play the angel.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Downplayed. The modern-day Meldrews are doing okay for themselves, but their days of wealth are long gone, and much of their property has fallen into disrepair.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Averted for the most part. You find a backpack early on with unlimited carrying capacity, and the game will automatically shuffle items between your hands and the pack when needed.
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  • Kraken and Leviathan: There's one in ancient Greece.
  • Magic Wand: Ten of them throughout the game.
  • Portal Picture: Almost any image projected by the slide projector is one.
  • Rule of Three: The demon and angel allow you three hints each. Of course, you can get as many as you like by using the 'undo' command.
  • Shout-Out: Examining the book of Twenties poetry transports you to Unreal City, where you can find Madame Sosostris, the famous clairvoyante; graffiti on a wall reading "Shantih Shantih Shantih"; and a river-boat called the Phlebas, helmed by a hollow man who will repeatedly say, "Hurry up please it's time!"
  • Significant Anagram: One character uses a pseudonym that's an anagram of their real name.
  • Tarot Troubles: Your first tarot reading will turn up Death, The Fool, and The Drowned Sailor; the fortune-teller will be terribly frightened by this, though subsequent readings with the exact same results will only get you mutterings of "Another nobody."
  • What the Hell, Player?: Swearing causes your movement to be temporarily restricted. A bar of soap appears in your inventory, and you can't move until you ingest it.
  • Wire Dilemma: There's a bomb puzzle with four wires you can unplug.
  • You Can't Get Ye Flask: The solution to the robot mouse puzzle, in which you need to command the mouse while it's not in the room with you, is to address your commands to the hole that the mouse went through. Good luck figuring that out without resorting to hints.