Varicella

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4.5/5 (43 votes)

An ingenious piece of alternative history interactive fiction created by Adam Cadre. In Varicella, you have the pleasure of abandoning your usual scruples to play one of the most delightfully nasty antiheroes that I've come across: the eponymous Primo Varicella, Palace Minister at the Palazzo del Piemonte, and a tremendous opportunity awaits you. Can you seize the day (and the throne)?

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36 Comments

Pretty cool game.
I'm usually not good at these interactive things, but this one was really cool.

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JC Lisbon August 26, 2008 3:20 PM

Wow, pretty good choice. Quick, too, the game is only 9 years old! Still as great as the day it came out.

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I'm using Firefox, and I can't get the game to work in JIG. I click on the black screen, and it does nothing. Am I incredibly dense?

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The IF interpreter linked to in the review above is Flash, so you'll need the latest Flash Player installed.

Flash Player works in any browser, including Firefox.

http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/

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I'm playing on firefox and it works fine

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I love this game so much that I actually started writing a review for it, but stopped as I felt I couldn't fully do justice to it. (This review did a really good job).

The game and the world it is set in are captivating and playing the game really feels like exploring a novel. That said, I do agree that it is almost impossible to complete without a walkthrough or hints.

If you enjoyed this game, I would strongly recommend that you play through the rest of Adam Cadre's games, as they're all spectacular (and all deserve their own reviews). In particular, Photopia is easily my favourite IF game. The shorter games I-0 and 9:05 are also excellent and a good introduction to IF for anybody.

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Fantastic. This is one of my favorite IF games, and I'm glad to finally see a review here.

For those just starting: this game is HARD. It's possible to beat it without spoilers (I was *this* close, but overlooked something crucial that I thought I'd already tried), but it will take many, many, many attempts. But it's totally worth it for the satisfaction you get when you finally figure out how to solve one of the puzzles.

For those who enjoy this, or who almost did but would like something a bit easier, I strongly recommend Lock & Key, also by Cadre.

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I played this game a few months ago, and never beat it. I loved the game, but it is impossible. Basically, if you aren't Superman, you (probably) aren't going to beat this game.

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Nikodemus August 26, 2008 7:50 PM

Varicella is one of the relatively few IF games I have completed without hints or a walkthrough.

To discover what needs to be done you have to play the game up to the time limit *many* times, spending time finding things out slowly, and only once you know what you are going to do, do it without aimless wandering around. Eg. once you discover the surveillance system, spend a bunch of run-throughs just using it to find out what happens where and when. (Or that was to the way I played it at least.)

It should be noted that this replaying is NOT as tedious as it may sound: the action evolves with each iteration as you learn more, and there is some nice rising action there as well.

Great game!

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The Wolf's Shadow Author Profile Page August 26, 2008 8:33 PM

I can't get it to even start. I have the browser one up, and the title screen is there, but the cursor isn't. Is there something I'm missing? I have flash.

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Title screen? I'm not sure what you're seeing, but here is what you should see once the game loads...

http://images.jayisgames.com/varicella-screen.png

Try clicking on the game screen before typing to give the Flash app focus.

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Cheddarius Author Profile Page August 26, 2008 10:19 PM

La la la, getting my nails trimmed... Let's see if I can annoy my servant a bit.
'punch steward'
'With your bare hands? And ruin your manicure? Never!'
Hmm. I don't think I'll be able to knife him or anything... what can I do to protect my hands?
'kick steward'
'With your bare hands? And ruin your manicure? Never!'
:O You kick people with your hands? I did not know this.

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all this talk about walkthroughs...
Could we get one?
Keep it loose, y'know. Nothing strict. Just some little nudges from parts where you completionists got stuck. (i.e. "look in the closet", or something)

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This was really cool, I loved it

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There are a number of walkthroughs (and probably 'hintthroughs') available. For example, here is the most concise walkthrough possible: http://www.hevanet.com/cristofd/varicella.txt .

While there, I also noticed that some kind soul had actually created a map for the game, as desired in the review: http://ifarchive.flavorplex.com/if-archive/mapping-tools/maps/varic.jpg

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Aww... I was hoping someone would write a walkthrough for us to post here rather than referring people elsewhere. ;_;

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My personal favorite! Characters are brilliant

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On the walkthrough, what does it mean when it says guard because it doesn't work. Ah! I'm sorry, I had to resort to the walkthrough because I died so many times and it gave me a headache. Please help! This game is awesome but, just beyond my knowledge

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o the guard s didnt work, it says, that's not a recognized verb..?

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I think that actually should be "guard,s"

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So for the fun of it, I did that walk through. You end up dying. So I'm going to try to go through it and see what is messed up with it.

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I would love for someone to write a decent walkthrough for JIG. ^_^

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Commands structured as "(character), (instructive verb)" are usually used to tell the characters to go in that direction, so "guard, go south" or just "guard, south" would tell the guard to go in that direction. You could also do "guard, open door" or some such.

I don't have the time to go through Varicella again (I played it a few years ago) and make a walkthrough :( But I'd also love to see one here, simply because people using the walkthrough Wulfo linked would be losing *all the fun* of figuring at least some of the solutions on their own.

I remember having a lot of fun finding out who I should

have Charlotte kill with the knife

particularly because I hadn't figured out how to off Bonfleche. A hint for anyone stuck in the same position:

Sierra might have rather strong feelings about seemly behaviour.

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I loved the part with the

bomb. I thought that I had won when I detonated it from the northwest tower, but then Sierra killed me.

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I'm trying to figure out whether people are talking about my concise walkthrough. I don't see any other walkthrough being specified or linked...but the only place mine says "guard" is where it says "bribe guard". And mine does work--I just tested it again to make sure. (You may need to hit "return" at a couple points during the game, if text won't fit on your screen. But with a big enough window, this won't happen except at the very start and the very end.)

(In response to cheryll: I agree entirely. I didn't write this walkthrough for people who haven't played the game yet--it was more an invitation for those who have already finished to try playing it at a second level.)

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That concise walkthrough features several faster ways to kill each person than the one I found. Here's a walkthrough with all the methods.

Wehrkeit:

Short way: Use Modo's bomb (set off from his key) to blow him up when his army arrives.
Long way: Talk to Sierra about venice, and she'll let you know that Wehrkeit is using their weapons. The Venetians will be very happy to know this, so ask her for the phone code and venice's code, then call Venice twice. They'll take care of Wehrkeit for you. Be careful, because Rico will bribe her to give you the wrong codes if you wait too long.

Modo:

There's no long or short way. You will need to get into his secret underground lab and deal with his green slime. First, get the gas mask from the royal quarters. You also need to get the vials from his office (notice how they're untouched by slime?). The guard will get them for you if you order him with a hostile tone, or Princess Charlotte will automatically order him in when you open the door. Go to the courtyard and pour the yellow, then the pink vial into the funnel to clean up the slime. Move the loose tile in the fountain to open the compass rose. Wear the gas mask and go down. To the north, you will find Modo. Kill him. Get his key, pull the cord to stop the mists, then disarm the bomb to the south.

Bonfleche:

Tune into channel 17 on the security system at 2:00 (but get there early to plug in your system) to catch him in some very unseemly activity. Sierra doesn't like him very much, so record this on your key and show the key to her. She'll deal with him.

Prince Louis:

Short way: Take his bottle (takes two tries), and throw it into the muck in the pool (so don't clean it up before you do this). He tries to go get it, with predictable results.
Long way: This method makes it look like an accident. Notice the balcony above the courtyard? Get the robot from Rico's office and give it to Charles, and he'll let you have the car. Get it, and you'll note its weight. Drive it off the balcony, and it lands on Louis.

Rico:

Ask Charlotte about the people. Anyone she says is a bad man can be killed by her, but use her to kill Rico, since you don't have any other way. Untie her straitjacket, and she'll follow you out. Get the vials from Modo's office if you want, then go to Rico's office and give her the dagger. She'll kill the "bad man".

The final challenge is doing this in the right order:

Wehrkeit must be confronted last, but if you're using the long way, you need to deal with him before Rico bribes Sierra. Modo takes a long time, so try to do the vials on the way to something else and confront him at the end (but don't get trapped underground! The explosions and stuff will collapse the lab). Bonfleche must be dealt with at 2:00 sharp, so leave time for that in your schedule. Rico can be killed at any time, but he won't let you have the robot if he's in his office. Louis can also be killed at any time, but the short way is easiest to do right before the confrontation with Modo.

My final route, using the long ways:

Immediately retrieve your stuff from your room and open the security system. Go to sierra and deal with Wehrkeit. Go get the mask, the vials, and anything else you can cram in (I think there's time to kill Rico instead, but I'm not sure). Go to your room before 2:00 to get the evidence on Bonfleche, and immediately go to Sierra. From there, let Charlotte loose to kill Rico (if you, get the robot, then the car and kill Louis, then go down to Modo and kill him, then leave and wait for Wehrkeit to show up.

My route can be definitely optimized some, but it worked.

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I don't know if anyone looks here anymore, but I just found this game, and am really confused.
I don't think I've got the hang of IF yet- whenever I try to ask something I get told its "not in the room or beneath my concern", and I have trouble figuring out how to use or do things with objects.

Is there maybe a "beginner" IF game I could start with, until i get the hang of them?

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Hi Nicole, give Adam Cadre's "9:05" a try. It's a game with multiple endings, and it's relatively short, so it's a good one to jump into as a beginner. Here's our review:
http://jayisgames.com/archives/2008/06/905.php

Also, you might give any of the other interactive fiction games a try that we have reviewed at JIG. Most of them have been shorter, more casual experiences:
http://jayisgames.com/tag/ifiction

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Am I incredibly dense too? I can't get the game to work. I click on the black screen, and nothing happens. I installed the latest flash Player.

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The window that the game opens in has the wrong title (in the header).

The title says "Leaflet....", probably a previous interactive fiction.

[Leaflet is the name of our internally-developed interactive fiction interpreter, which is used to run the game in a browser. -Jay]

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Anonymous April 8, 2010 8:18 AM

Okay i finished the game twice but the ending i kept getting was Charles Terror begins and well you Varicella especially gets killed by him... Is there a better ending?

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@JIGuest: Yes, there is a better ending, but it's an Easter Egg.

WAKE UP.

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This was excellent. Tremendous attention to detail. Probably the best text adventure I have played since Infocom (and better than some of theirs).

It's hard but not quite too hard. I finished it without help (somehow).

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I know this is a bit of an old review at this point (for an even older game), but I've just powered through this for an essay I'm writing, and I've never seen a game so satisfyingly click into place through repeated playthroughs.

Also, as for the surveillance system:

Try asking Charlotte about Charles. She'll casually mention that Charles sometimes comes to her to tell her about his abuse. She also mentions that he tends to hit her with his car and that she is also molested nightly by Rico and Louis, making the line of dialogue vital to half the puzzles in the game

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