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Cursor  Member Reviews - Cursed

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
  Absolutely entertaining, Mon 31st Oct 2011
By P/o Prune - See all my reviews


Let me start by saying that this review is written from my experience when beta testing the game. So I will not be going into any lengthy mumbo jumbo about the technical quality. I assume that the author has corrected most of the bugs and errors. Also, as a foreigner I’m not going to comment on any spelling or grammar errors. There are plenty of people out there who’ll take care of that.
This review is my personal experience of the game and should be in no way taken as anything else.

The game instantly got the first two points in my book for the way the author managed to combine three games into one. Early in the game you get the choice of three creatures and have to decide which one you want to be. So the approach to solving the game depends on what creature you choose.

Another neat feature is the hint file that comes with the game. The hints are pretty much OK and doesn’t give away the solution. They came in handy in more than one occasion as I played.
My only problem was that the hint file is actually another taf file which means that you must have two runners open at the same time and switch between them. It’s no big thing really, but it would have been neat to have the hints in the game. But it’s probably just me being too lazy to switch between windows.

A little background:
You play the foster son of the king, who took you in when your father got killed in battle. The king raised you along with his own son with whom you tied the bond of sincere friendship.
The game start with you, finding yourself in a prison cell, accused of murdering your foster brother.
The members of the court have already found you guilty and to nobody’s surprise, you’re sentenced to death.
Luckily for you, your foster father, the king, intervenes and instead of facing death you are given the choice to live your life as one of three animals; a fox, a snake or a rat.
It turns out that you have more than one friend in the court. Before you are transformed into whatever creature you have chosen, the magician gives you a piece of advice which leads you on your quest, not only to become human again, but also to find out who killed your foster brother.

Your first task is to get out of the castle, and get out alive, which is not easy. Having chosen to live as one of the three animals, you not only have a miserable existence ahead of you, but everyone who sees you have the right to hunt you down and kill you .
So a sound piece of advice is to save your game often.

When playing the game, I had to constantly remind myself that I wasn’t playing a human character. Otherwise normal commands as “get object” or “Talk to character” just doesn’t work.
In ordinary IF get object will automatically let the player reach out and pick up whatever object s/he wants. But playing the role of a fox, snake or rat, force you to think differently, which in itself is a puzzle.

The puzzles are well thought, and their solution logical. The challenge often comes when you try to figure out how to accomplish the task needed to be done in order to get a certain door open, or kill an enemy. Not to mention the frustration when you have to communicate with someone without being able to speak.

You can die, and you probably will. But found no sudden deaths. The annoying thing is that you know that within a couple of moves you’re getting to get killed and you can’t figure out how to prevent it 

The locations are well described. They are to the point and without too many confusing details and if you take the time and really read them, you will soon be captured by the atmosphere.
There are pieces of rather lengthy text that some may find unnecessary, and the switch between your thoughts and the descriptions of a location was a bit confusing at times. But I felt that they helped to build the character and helped set the atmosphere of the game.

The game is divided into chapters and is linked together through an interlude where you step out of your character and take over someone else. In one case I suddenly found myself playing the magician and being in a room with the king. This felt a bit strange but it ties the chapters together nicely and best of all, you get a list of topics you can ask about thus being able to get more background info on the game.

From a players point of view I found Cursed an interesting and captivating game. I will absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good game and some mindboggling puzzles.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
  Review by George Dorn, Mon 31st Oct 2011
By Anonymous - See all my reviews

The medieval city of Rylane is experiencing a crisis that threatens to destroy life as currently enjoyed by its residents. The local population of barrels and crates has skyrocketed, and with it the population of their natural predators, the horse-drawn cart and driver.

This is the backdrop against which you have been framed and found guilty of murdering your best friend and sentenced to a nasty, brutal and short life as an animal of your choosing (so long as your choice is a fox, a rat or a snake.) For my >2 hour session, I went with snake. This is an epically long entry for a comp game; I barely made it through part one of three (or 6 if you count the interludes and epilogue). I'm guessing the full play through could take 18 hours.

And what frustrating hours those would be. Physics, map and timing puzzles are hard to get right. They require exceptionally good descriptions so the player is immersed in the environment and can intuitively understand why things behave the way they do. They require ample cues to the variety of actions the player can take in a scene. Instead, descriptions are relatively sparse and cues are buried deep in item descriptions and may not even pertain to a solution you can do as your chosen animal. For example:

The wagon is covered and currently unhitched, although it seems to be loaded. One corner of the wagon cover has not been secured, though, and some boxes can be seen.

The boxes are made from wood and stacked in the corner of the covered wagon, although they are currently exposed due to the wagon cover not being secured over them. You can see some writing on one of the boxes.
A harsh, cold wind whistles by.

The writing says: "Destination: Cayl Mason, Drekas, Sylaph"

But it turns out I don't actually want to get to Sylaph, so that's a red herring. Also, along the way I accidentally tried >X BOKES, and more time passed. This is a common ADRIFT problem, but a pet peeve of mine - time passes for invalid actions or typos. In this game, that can be immediately lethal (bad, but there's always >UNDO) or lethal a few turns from now (much worse).

I'm not someone who immediately goes to hints for help. I want to experience Ifs without aid and judge them on their merit alone. But in addition to several "guess the verb" puzzles, there are also quite a few "guess the puzzle" puzzles, in which is not even clear what puzzle needs solving to proceed. Compounding this was a handful of CYOA-like nonsequitur puzzles, where taking one action leads to success where another leads to failure, but with no cues at all to determine which is which. I don't think this is actually playable without hints, which is why the author also provided a secondary IF build with a custom hint system. But I'm not judging the hint system, I'm judging the IF.

All of this is not to say that this isn't a (potentially) good IF. This is an IF with a great deal of potential. The plot and environment are interesting and deep. The narrative structure (swapping the player into scenes and bodies) was skillful. Even inventing a custom hint system (to replace ADRIFT's fairly inflexible system) took effort. But the end result was hampered by insufficient hands-off beta testing and ADRIFT engine itself.

Rating: 6. Solid (if long) effort, brought down by the verb hunting, huh? puzzles, learning by dying, and some ADRIFT-based player abuse.

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