This is the second part of a series of articles that will bring to your attention some noteworthy mods for Half Life 2. Last week, we introduced you to Minerva Metastasis-- a well crafted single player mod based in the Half Life 2 universe. In an effort to keep things fresh and diverse, we thought of featuring a total conversion for HL2 called Curse: Episode 1.
Curse: Episode 1 (Hell Awaits) [Download ]
Action, Puzzle, Platforming
[Note: You need Steam client, Half-Life 2: Episode One and Source SDK installed (and playable) to play this mod]
As we fired up Curse: EP1, the first thing it reminded us of was Raven Software’s classic Hexen: Beyond Heretic—your hands glowing with a blue aura that fires magic at a press of a button. However, as you delve further into this game world, the similarities start to fade away. While Hexen has a gothic theme reminiscent of D&D games, game-play in Curse takes place inside an Egyptian pyramid.
This mod likes to keep action to a minimum, while emphasizing on exploration, puzzles and platforming. As a result, weapons in the game are kept at a bare minimum of two. With the left click of the mouse, the player’s hand sends out a burst of telekinetic force that can push objects with great force. This ability can be used to clear obstacles, push hard to reach switches and it can even be used in combat to hurl objects at your enemies. Speaking of which, enemies in Curse are mummies with variation in attack type (melee, archers, etc). While combat is not all that challenging, there are instances when you will find yourself surrounded by your embalmed foes. In such a situation, pushing the right mouse button conjures up a magical Morningstar that floats in mid-air. This weapon causes high amount of damage and hence, it is perfect quickly thinning a group of mummies.
There are only a couple of pick-up in this mod and they come in the form of colored vials—the red vial adds to your defense, while the blue vial restores lost health.
The levels in this mod are a series of interconnected chambers where certain areas are inaccessible behind magically sealed doors. As you can imagine, the main objective of the game is to unlock these areas by solving puzzles, fighting mummies and negotiating through deadly traps. Now this is where the Curse can get a tad confusing—the way the puzzles are designed, you will sometimes encounter locked doors that have switches at the far end of the level. So there is a quite a bit of back-tracking, and absence of a map means that it is quite likely that you will sometimes feel lost. However, this should not be a major hurdle for those that have a good sense of direction and memory.
The world of Curse is well crafted and visually it can hold its own against any other commercial venture. With high quality textures and anti-aliasing, the game world looks so good that you may actually feel sorry when you have to destroy objects. The designers have also used lighting and ambient sounds to effectively build up an eerie atmosphere.
Since Curse is meant to be Episodic, the first episode (titled Hell Awaits) is designed to run for about 30- 70 minutes. If you are looking for a mod with a lot of action, you will be sorely disappointed with Curse. However, if you want to take a break from relentless action of a typical shooter, Curse offers briskly paced game-play that will test your intellect more than your reflexes.