curses the game is angry angsty witch fun

‘CURSES’ Is the Angsty, Witchy, ’90s-Inspired Video Game Your Teen Self Would Have Loved

I am always on the hunt for video games that are able to take point-and-click simplicity and turn into something engaging. When I first heard of CURSES, a new work from Killjoy Games, it sounded right up my alley.

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In this hand-drawn, point-and-click, narrative-driven game where emotions are centered, you play Girl—a 1990s teenager whose family life has ensnared her mind in a web of dark feelings that she finally decides to act on. From inside her room, and with the negging of her familiar, you will use the magic items in her room (tarot cards) and other activities to help choose your path. You can set Girl down the bridge of revenge and curse everyone else. Or you can choose to care about yourself. The narrative path is determined by the which emotions and feelings you choose to explore as the play, which lead to ten unique endings. There are also smaller mini-games to fit whatever mood you were feeding.

The simplicity of Curses is part of its charm. At first, when I was playing the demo, my Steam Deck was a little slow around the point-and-click, but once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed getting to be Girl—especially because when the choice is to either feed angry emotions or self-care, it is nice, at times, to do the opposite of whatever your natural inclination is.

When I spoke to the game’s creator, designer, and writer, Emily Flynn-Jones, they shared that game development became a therapeutic thing for them. “I was going through a pretty intensive amount of it in like 2015/2016,” she said. “And just like the thing, the tools they wanted me to use, like journaling or whatever, I just found them boring and stale. They just weren’t engaging me in the feelings or process or anything. So that’s when I like started making games really in earnest. I was like, this is how I explain myself.”

Flynn-Jones’ games then became a way for them to express these emotions not just of herself, but others. She was moved to start making games to share in earnest, rather than keeping them in her metaphorical journal, with a friend’s encouragement. “I was at a conference and basically a friend just sort of encouraged me to share publicly what it was I was doing,” she explains. “I did decide to publish one of my games about disordered eating and complicated relationships with alcohol. And that was received really, really well. And so I was like, ‘Oh, okay then, like I, I can be public about this. I can be not so ashamed about it.'”

And it is that desire to uncouple shame from emotional expression that resonates with Curses, even if you’re only playing it for a bit. In creating Girl as the emotional avatar, it became a way for Flynn-Jones to structure the game around this character’s feelings and allow us to engage with them in a personal way. “I knew the game needed to be ordered by feelings and letting you play in those feelings. But like, especially dark feelings, or so-called negative feelings cuz those in the ones are particular that we’re not supposed to have, right?” She continued. “It was meant to be non-judgemental from the start. It’s like, okay, so we are giving you two choices about how to do your magic at the end. But the results of both can be mixed. They can be negative, they can be very ambiguous. [But] none of them are telling you, Oh yeah, this is, this is a right way to go or feel.”

It is a great way to build a game, and it led to a quick but enjoyable playtime for me, and I would recommend it to anyone who just enjoys good, emotion-based games—especially that let you be as sad or as wicked as you want.

Curses is currently a downloadable game for Windows and MacOS. I did play it initially on my SteamDeck, but moved to MacOS personally and enjoyed it more on a desktop.

(featured image: Killjoy Games)


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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.