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The Curse of Dragonshrine Reviews
Author: Mystery
Date: 2004

Reviewed by Cobra1

Being a fan of dragons of any kind, I was drawn to this game immediately. However, what I found were merely disappointments, awkward text, cumbersome tasks and an overall ill feeling...Shall I continue? 

The Curse Of The Ruined Opening 

The game starts you off as riding a horse-drawn vehicle. These two farmers spot you, have a few words, then threaten you when they notice you with the necklace that their child used to have. Immediately you disband and run for the woods for a hiding place...Pretty quick...for just three "screens" of text. In an effort to make it seem realistic, the designer has added two "songs" and one picture...The latter is a badly sculpted head of a dragon over a castle with red text over the scene and that's it. The music is either a loud thunder storm (outside castle) or a softer storm with a few low and long notes played (inside castle). Sorry, I'm not impressed. The outside of the castle seems like a desperate attempt for an early area. Nothing to grab, nothing to find...not even maze-like. In fact, head onto the MAIN ROAD and wait as long as you please...the farmers will just let you take your sweet time getting into the castle, despite being a murderer. After you get inside, the idea is semi-obvious what to do next, of which you reach the main part of the castle. And so, the debacle begins... 

A quest of pointless-ness 

After the first few steps, you are suddenly in the kitchen, with little reason other than you had "followed a ghost". This ghost will then proceed to talk your ear off...and while was wisely used in the intro, it's strangely missing here. You must instead use the command "wait" or "z" about 5 or so times until FINALLY the game allows you to proceed by the ghost letting you know she left a candle for you. So where's the candle? You have to examine the many items of the kitchen to find it...and so our real quest emerges. Our author expects us to examine EVERY last item in this place, 75% or more either repeat what was just said in the room's description or they give us one of the three-four clues provided through the entire game! So you therefore must check even the kitchen sinks...why? Because somehow you cannot find a LARGE WOODEN SPOON in a bare sink without "x-ing" it first. I can understand the cupboards...and even the shelves...but in the sinks? Even more so, how can you miss one of the potions sitting on the tables? Just sitting there...not buried or anything. Shouldn't that be accessable right away? 

Of course, the vocabulary options for this game don't help either. "X-ing" a desk in the game didn't provide any more info other than standard responses when I was stuck.  Desperate, I checked the file and found that you had to "look under desk" to get the desired response. If that's not enough, I found a floor in particular is needed to be looked at to win the game. This floor is neither hinted at and must be looked in two different places AND those two places must be looked from in the correct order...Is it just me or does that read as "bad planning"? One time, I knew what to do but the game refused to let me do it. I knew I needed the wood on fire and in the spit to make a fire for the cauldron. Well, I tried to light it first : no good. I followed by typing "place wood in spit", whereupon it told me there was no room. "Light wood"?...Nope. "Make Potion"...Nuh-uh. Finally, I stumbled across the right phrase..."Put wood pit"...either that's a typo or they expect us to drop a piece of wood a couple of feet to light it. THEN, you may "light wood"... 

The clues are no real help either. As said, you get about three or four hints throughout the game which are "What to mix", "What rooms to do it in", "Where to put the body", and "Background". Only two notes actually provide some decent idea of depth....WHY and WHEN. Everything else is left for grabs...even the in-game hint system barely works. Being in the proper room I understand, but not mentioning the cloak (a required item) under the hint "Is there anything I need in (here)?"...Instead, it points out a journal which gives you the same text and info you can get over and over again from about 6 or so other items. There's also a glass-stained window in a chapel later on, of which the game gives you no hints as to what to do with it. Furthermore, it is possible to complete the game without defining its purpose! 

That's another point...The lack thereof. I first completed the game with only 70 or so out of 100. I later found that useless journal, boosting my score by an insane amount. Why provide points for tasks that don't concern goals for the end of the goals? Finding the secret passage to the last goal is worth 2 points...2 POINTS! Meanwhile, our dear journal is worth 5 or more. After the journal and other meaningless tasks, I brought my score up to 95 out of 100...wanna bet that chapel window has something to do with it? 


As I watched the end of the game, our villian is spotted by the town and is quickly accused by our now ressurected heroine. They quickly have him executed...a potions-master and attainer of near-immortality is killed by a public execution. This is a death sequence befitting the master behind all of these schemes?! I expected magics to be unleashed from the shrine or energies to be released from him...but just a quick accusation and it's all over? 

In short, I am extremely disappointed with this game and feel like the author owes me three hours... 

3/10 (Burning in its ashes...) 

Reviewed by Dan Shiovitz

This is the second game I've played by this author, and I'm pleased to say that The Curse of DragonShrine is a noticeable improvement. The game still has the same problems that Mystery Manor had -- it's overdone in writing and atmosphere, and underdone in terms of gameplay -- but in both respects it improves on its predecessor. Like the title suggests it's a reasonably generic fantasy setting: there's a bad guy doing bad stuff and you have to collect a couple magic thingies to stop him and break the curse. The game seems to be shooting for a sort of fantasy/gothic feel. There's a run through the woods from angry villagers and then exploration of a mysterious castle with a ghost and a dragon motif (but no actual dragons were harmed, or used, in the making of this game). 

The writing moves back and forth between text-adventure standard ("You must bring the body of the last victim to the shrine and give her the potion. Read the incantation from the scroll. I must return to the lake, for I am too weak to stay. Your fate is sealed.") and atmospheric, but the author doesn't quite have a steady enough hand with the writing to make the atmospheric work ("A white figure hovers nearby, looking at you curiously. In a state of shock, you are unable to move because you have never seen such a thing in all the days of your life. She is a ghost"). I think Mystery might be better off working on writing with a scenario that doesn't require evoking emotion in the player, or at least aims for lighter-weight emotions. 

It's been a while since I played Mystery Manor, but I seem to recall it having a lot of the wander-around-finding-random-items sort of puzzle. The Curse of DragonShrine has the same thing, but to a much lesser extent, and it has a few more interesting puzzles as well (the cloth rag and the getting-the-body puzzle were particularly noteworthy). Still, the game has way too many rooms which have nothing interesting in them, or just one item (you can see by the handy ADRIFT mapping system that the layout is nicely symmetrical, but that's not sufficient justification for keeping useless rooms -- at least half of the rooms in this game could have been dropped and it'd have tightened up the thing considerably). Finally, the timer on the very last puzzle is a little rough. I ended up looking at a walkthrough because I thought I wasn't solving it right, when it turned out I was just not moving quite efficiently enough. 

Anyway, this is a reasonable second effort. I'm not sure it would be recommendable were it not so short, but as it is it's a reasonable enjoyment 
return for the time invested, and a definite step up from the author's first game. I'd like to see a third. 

Reviewed by David Whyld

Following a lengthy and somewhat clumsy introduction in which the player becomes accused of murdering a girl called Jenny O'Brien and has to flee from his accusers, The Curse of DragonShrine starts properly once the player arrives at an abandoned castle. Or seemingly abandoned at any rate. I have to admit that the introduction to The Curse of DragonShrine didn't impress me a whole lot. It seemed very rushed, as if the writer had tried to cram several pages worth of text into a far smaller space (to prevent the player having to read an overly lengthy introduction?) and the people accusing the player of murdering Jenny O'Brien came across more as rather dense country bumpkins than anything else. Fortunately, things pick up a little as the game moves to the castle where the aforementioned curse comes to the fore. 

The castle itself is large and contains quite a fair number of locations. Unfortunately, the majority are empty of more than the most basic of descriptions and while a large number of locations makes finding the items you need to progress more difficult, it's also a tad disappointing being able to wander around this many locations with so little to do in them. A few NPCs - of which the game seriously lacks - could have been added to these empty rooms for some much needed depth. 

The main aim behind the game is to find the body of Jenny O'Brien (yes, she is dead after all) and bring her back to life by use of several potions which, quite conveniently as it happens, are lying scattered around the castle in easy to find places. Actually, the 'easy to find' bit is probably a bit misleading as you actually need to find several different potions and combine then into a fourth potion in order to get anywhere. I remember finding this especially frustrating as I never found any reference to more than one potion being needed and expecting the player to realise that three potions had to be combined in a cauldron and then stirred with a spoon to produce a fourth potion struck me as a particularly cumbersome puzzle, and not one people are likely to figure out. Of course, I suppose clues could have been scattered around the game but, if so, they weren't scattered anywhere that I looked. 

A few awkward instances arose. I came across a ghost who couldn't be referred to as "ghost" but instead "a ghost" which struck me as a strange way of handling things. Another problem with the ghost occurred when she followed me and I was faced with the likes of "The ghost of a young woman hovers nearby; now and then parts of her disappear through the wall. A ghost hovers in from the west." popping up on screen, telling me that the ghost was hovering nearby even before she had hovered in from the west! There was also an unusual occurrence in that a door which I was previously unable to open suddenly opened at a later point in the game without me doing anything to open it. A quick peek at the hints informed me that this is supposed to happen but didn't bother with explaining just why the door had mysteriously opened. 

A villain known as Master Dracon is referred to from time to time during the game but I never met him at any point which was a bit of a disappointment because there is very little character interaction possible in The Curse of DragonShrine. In the end, his death (told in a few lines in the epilogue) is clumsily handled. Despite a few references to him throughout the game as possessing great powers and even endeavouring to achieve immortality and rule over a world of dragons, he is killed by a few local yokels. Hardly a decent ending for the villain of the piece. Although in all honesty Master Dracon isn't much of a villain anyway. Too little time is spent on making him into a believable character and the fact that he and the player never meet doesn't help matters. 

All in all, The Curse of DragonShrine was a playable game which felt like it had been written in a great hurry. Not good, not bad, but somewhere in between. 

5 out of 10 

Reviewed by DIY Games (June 2004)

The Curse of Dragon Shrine is a very verbose ADRIFT game; one of few that even includes images. Here, you need to find out what happened to a missing girl, while staying out of reach from their relatives who think you killed her. The story is very descriptive, but the author, Mystery, has been known for better works. Still, this title is worth a try. 

Reviewed by Mel S

It's been awhile... 

It's been a long time since Mystery's last full-sized game, but The Curse of the Dragon Shrine is a welcome return. It's not as fun and addictive as some of her previous games, but it's a large game that'll keep you busy for quite a few hours. 

Hopefully we won't have to wait as long for Mystery's next game. 7/10

Reviewed by TDS

A couple men mistake you for a murderer and you take refuge in a castle. Within the castle you learn of a curse and how to stop it. 

The beginning of the game is rocky because to advance to the main part you have to use an unusual command. In real life it would be logical but in IF I feel it's a little unreasonable. Further in the game there's another unusual request where you look under something. Common sense tells me if I don't even get a response looking under a bed, why should I try it on anything else? 

When you get past that minor hurdle and reach the main castle you'll find out that it's huge. The map definitely comes in handy here, if it was disabled I'd probably quit. You spend the entire game examining every little thing in the castle in hopes of finding something you can use to break the curse. After you have everything you put it all together and the game is basically done. Hmm.....this style of game leaves a little something to be desired. A great story could carry it into greatness but I'm afraid the story is average at best. But it's still entertaining. I didn't come across any spelling errors but I did cross small cases of guess-the-verb. 

This game left me with mixed feelings on completion. On one hand I think, that was a pretty decent game. On another I think, is this really much of a difference from Selma's Will? The settings have changed but the core is about the same. Examine item w to see item x. Get item x to use on item y and you receive item z. Put item z in item d. Rinse and repeat. 

That gets old after a while, and soon it annoys you. The must frustrating part of playing this game is when you forget to examine something and you realize you have to go back over the castle again because you didn't examine the air particle. 

Still a good time waster if you're bored and like these kind of games. 


*The game also has media that adds to the atmosphere a little. The music is appropriate at times but the title screen is so bad it shouldn't have been included. 

Reviewed by David Welbourn (11 Nov 2005)

Unjustly accused of the disappearance of one Jenny O'Brian, you are hounded into seeking refuge inside a deserted castle. Once safely past the opening puzzle, a ghost appears to give some confusing exposition and set you on your task: to break the curse of the Dragon Shrine.

The puzzles themselves are not very difficult, but the coding is a bit buggy, and the various pieces of background material about the curse and magic involved is very contrived and convoluted. It's best to ignore all the contradictions and simply follow the instructions as best you can.

Two more points. One, the gallery of paintings is a nice touch and acts as a guide of sorts. Two, although there's plenty of dragon statues in the game, no actual dragons appear, which I found disappointing.

Rating: ***

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