The central idea of The Curse is a simple one. You've opened a book and let out a malevolent spirit known only as the Mannequin. It's up to you to solve the puzzles inside the arcane tome and trap the conniving villain once more.
It's a clever hook that mirrors the compulsion inherent in the design of the game. At the very core of the experience is a voice saying over and over, "You're never going to be able to do that".
There are 100 puzzles in total, each more fiendish than the last. They come in a variety of styles, from simple riddles to line-drawing tasks to sliding block puzzles that have a single, rarely apparent solution.
The first few puzzles are marked 'easy', although they can only really be described that way in comparison with the hideously complicated posers that follow them. One of the earliest medium puzzles you'll encounter, for example, is a jigsaw made of a picture of jumbled brown string.
Solving a puzzle often elicits an internal cheer, or an external one if it's a particularly fiendish brain-teaser. You can buy hint packs as in-app purchases, but these are off-puttingly presented to you by the Mannequin, and buying them rightly feels like giving in.
You can complete the puzzles in any order, and to trap the Mannequin you only need to finish 25. Although it's never made clear which 25 they are. He'll taunt you as you progress, making phone calls to you and mocking your intelligence level.
Each puzzle introduces new levels of frustration and mental anguish, and each time you tick one off, and edge closer to completion, the sense of relief and accomplishment increases further.
The Curse isn't for everyone, and only a small percentage will ever lock the Mannequin away for good, with fewer still completing all of the puzzles the game has to offer. That the game still manages to inspire you with the urge to continue is testament to the excellent design.
This is a game that will make you tear your hair out, cry with rage, and weep with joy whenever you finish a level. If you're a committed puzzle game fan with plenty of cardiac fortitude you should download The Curse immediately.
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