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Dangerous Curves

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:Irene Callaci

GAME DEVELOPER:Freeware

GAME PUBLISHER:Freeware

Copyright 2000, Irene Callaci

Dangerous Curves is a great murder mystery that can proudly stand tall beside Infocom’s early detective games (e.g. Witness and Suspect) and will make any old-timer recall those classics. In many ways, Dangerous Curves is a better game than Infocom’s detective trilogy: the writing is much more atmospheric and detailed, the coding and parser much more solid, and the puzzles generally more interesting. Set in the noir-ish era of the 1940s, you play a private eye who is down to his last two dollars when a pretty blonde walks in the door with a job offer. Her name is Jessica Kincaid, and she has just been accused for an attempted murder on her wealthy husband, who is now in a coma. After asking about her alibi, you set out to solve the mystery in earnest and to get your client off the hook – by discovering the ‘holy trinity’ of murderer, means, and motive.

Like an authentic Raymond Chandler story, Dangerous Curves is full of style and interesting characters, even if the premise is more mundane and the culprit quite obvious after you round up all the suspects. A few plot devices are a bit too convenient to maintain the suspension of disbelief: for example, Jessica’s stolen car is found in the city’s only garage. You would think the culprit who is ingenious enough to frame the victim’s wife would be smarter than that ;) But this is a minor niggle compared to how good the rest of the game is. I particularly like the natural way you talk to people in this game – the traditional TELL ABOUT and ASK ABOUT commands have been augmented with natural sentences, so you can say JESSICA, WHERE IS YOUR HOUSE or JESSICA, HOW IS YOUR HUSBAND and the game will understand that perfectly.

The plot, despite starting out a bit slow, thickens gradually and naturally every time you find a new lead. One minor complaint is that the game gets a bit too linear in the end – I was forced to search for all the remaining little bits of evidence even after I knew who the culprit was. Some of these should have been structured as optional “bonus points.” Still, with excellent writing, solid design, interesting characters, and fun puzzles, Dangerous Curves ranks among the best of freeware murder mystery IF – a niche genre that deserves more attention from IF designers. Two thumbs up, way up!



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