Quite some time ago I was perusing the Indie Games on XBox Live and discovered one called Coral’s Curse by Abnormal Software. The premise of the game is best described by their own in-game text;
Coral was a brilliant student. She accelerated through the curriculum faster than any other pupil in the history of the academy. She was the envy of every other mage’s apprentice. Unfortunately she did not learn the price of failure when the risks were low. One night while delving into a new school of dark magic she came across an incantation she couldn’t resist trying. It was a simple metamorphosis spell that would change a dried out stick of oak into a live snake. Tragically, the spell backfired and the incantation instead was cast upon herself. Her own potency at magic proved to make the spell impossible to undo through normal means. The only way to reverse its effects was to collect ten golden amulets from the Sylvan Dreamworld and combine them to dispel the curse. Exiled from her school due to her new form, she set out to recover the artifacts she needed to return to her former self…
A game where I control a woman turned into something akin to a naga? It sounded like a perfect game to check out, so I bought it. And I have to say, I am quite happy I did.
The game world is laid out like something from Metroid; mostly open from the start, the only thing limiting your exploration is your capability. If you check the map you will see green dots, which represent the amulets you need to try and break the curse. Reaching them requires you to collect items which extend your tail. A long tail gives you more protection and more mobility.
There are a few options on how to control Carol, but they both include the same unique style. One stick controls her torso, the other her tail. It takes a while to get used to, but it is something that is quite fun once you adapt to it. As one reviewer said “it’s like learning to move with a tail when you’ve had legs all your life.” The mechanic also allows for some interesting things you can do. One portion requires you to move a sphere up a shelf with your tail to create a counter-balance. The dual stick control makes this unique and helps differentiate the game.
You also have the ability to cast spells to attack the creatures which will try and harm you, but I found it much easier to travel with the spiked end of Carol’s tail always at the ready to intercept an offending enemy.
Enemies can get annoying at times, as they are sometimes placed where neither your spell range nor tail can get to them with any convenience, but I lump that in as part of the challenge. Fortunately there are plenty of Save portals that are simple and quick to use. In addition only Coral’s torso takes damage; as long as you can get some of your tail between you and the attacker you can protect your health until a chance to attack arrives.
THE FINAL VERDICT: Worth the price to play as a naga.
The game is fun if you enjoy exploration and problem solving, but the environment doesn’t change much and the music doesn’t vary (although it is far from irritating). But for only 80 XBox Points I had a grand time learning to play as Coral and enjoyed exploring with her. And fans of transformation will be pleased to know about this spoiler;
When you collect all the amulets Coral isn’t returned to human form. Instead, her curse complicates and she grows wings – which you can flap and fly with at the end to continue exploring.
My kind of game.