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Undo: Curse from the Past

Undo: Curse from the Past is one of a series of inexpensive small box Undo storytelling puzzle games published by Pegasus Spiele. The game is designed by Michael Palm and Lukas Zach, with art by Lea Frohlich and Lisa Lenz. The premise is that the players (a single player or any number playing co-operatively, tho' the box specifies 2–6) are a team of time travellers trying to prevent a tragic event: in this case, the death of an elderly woman falling from a fifth floor hotel balcony in Berlin in January 1994.

A timeline of 13 story cards is laid out so that the cards' date and location can be seen: in Undo: Curse from the Past, the cards run from Ancient Egypt (1355 BC) through to Berlin in 1994. You have a limited number of time jumps available to the team (just 9) so you won't be able to visit and flip over all of the cards to read the story at every location. Players need to select a location to jump to and, at that location, they can expect to choose between three actions. Depending on their choice they earn the team a card that will show zero or a positive or negative value. The cards collected are totted up at the end of the game (ie: after all the time jumps have been used up) and that represents the team's score and whether or not they have succeeded in preventing the elderly woman's death. Along the way, players have a limited number of clue cards that they can spend to help them.

What you are actually doing in Undo: Curse from the Past is piecing together a story; what happened to the woman and what elements contributed to her death. In this, you might initially be puzzled to see that several of the locations precede the woman's birth by more than 3000 years but, without giving away any spoilers, it does all come together. Players' collective decision making is about how best to assemble a narrative; the sooner you work out the significance of certain events, the more likely you will be to pick the 'correct' multiple choice options that will give the team positive points.

The story in Undo: Curse from the Past makes the game relatively difficult to 'solve'. Although some of the locations are very obvious choices to visit early on, the multiple choice options are much less obvious. It is all too easy to collect negative points!

In practice, playing Undo: Curse from the Past feels more like completing a jigsaw puzzle than playing a conventional game. Unlike Kosmos' Exit games, you aren't destroying any components; nevertheless, you probably won't want to replay this game once you know the story; unless, perhaps, you want to try to 'solve' it by going through it a second time to try to hit the maximum possible score. That said, if you like TIME Stories (Space Cowboys) or the Choose Your Own Adventure books of your childhood then you can expect to enjoy Undo: Curse from the Past.

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