Replaying Curses (by Graham Nelson)

Ever since I started playing IF, I’ve listed Curses as my favorite game. I haven’t replayed it in a few years, but I’ve recently been replaying all games on IFDB with 100+ ratings and it was next on the list.

This time I was struck by how (by my current standards) under-implemented the game is. Tons of scenery in the first few rooms isn’t created as an object, and many important objects have no description. There is no TALK TO command.

Trying to talk to Jemima, I tried all sorts of combinations of ASK and TELL only to discover the JEMIMA, _____ was the correct format.

I found the Demijohn which I couldn’t open by hand and grabbed the wrench and tried to open it with the wrench a dozen ways.

Every other time I’ve played I either used a walkthrough or had played it in the last year with a walkthrough.


There’s so much to see and do. The density of actions per room is amazing. And I found things I’d never found before after playing 6 or 7 times, like putting the red battery in the flashlight killing me. The quotes are genuinely interesting, and all the little world building details (like a giant radio that takes several minutes to warm up). I spent forever just on the first puzzle of finding a carryall (I hadn’t been writing down a map).

It makes sense why the descriptions aren’t especially verbose, given that it had to fit into the Z-machine format. I’m looking forward to finishing my playthrough and don’t plan on bumping it down on my list at all!

Edit: This is another part I never noticed before; it made me laugh given what happened with the flashlight:

> get all from demijohn
nasty-looking red battery: Removed.
tourist map: (putting the guaranteed-unbreakable medicine bottle with a child-proof 
lock into the canvas rucksack to make room)

> x battery
On the side is the word “Achtung”.


Also, looking at ‘amusing’ stuff in the walkthrough (which I’m trying not to consult):

  1. Where are Dame Judi Dench and Donald Sutherland?

The angel and the demon bear a surprising resemblance to them.

Sadly, Donald Sutherland died a few days ago (as I write this). I’m slightly sorry now to have typecast him.

Isn’t Donald Sutherland still alive?


Laugh - that’s what I thought in the tiny bit of space between the quoted announcement of his death, and your response.



Just finished the game; it absolutely gets better the further you go on. I’m glad that not every description is implemented, that would be overwhelming (although it’s very funny that perhaps the most important item in the game, the bluish stone, has no description).

I definitely think it was designed to be talked about between groups of people and solved as a ‘team’. So much hints to that, like random events you can observe.

The game is also more merciful than I remember. I didn’t realize you can get a new daisy chain by dropping the old one. Alexandria in particular is a lot better than I remember, since every other time I used nothing but walkthroughs all the time; there are a ton of ways to return and retry things. And the two hint systems give a lot of good hints.

There are a couple of things I still don’t understand how to get without a walkthrough. How do we know to knock on Sorostris’ door while wearing the grey cloak? The angel says it’s inside out, but doesn’t say to knock on the door while wearing it. Is there a hint that priests wear grey cloaks? The second one is How do we know to wedge the oubliette opening in the Greek temple with the pumice stone? Decompiling shows that the prop can also be used. Any reason we’d think of using one of those two in particular, or propping it while not inside?

When did the exclamation mark leave the name?

Finally, are there any Hint threads/Invisiclues for Curses?

Edit: Okay, for my first spoilered question, I looked at the decompile at There is a painting of Sosostris in a grey cloak.