Varicella Adam Cadre 1999

Twisted, bleak, and filled with dark humor, Varicella is perhaps the most disturbing work of IF ever written--but it's also one of the best. You're the Palace Minister in an Italian court, the king has just died, the prince isn't yet ready to take power, and you have to cement your hold on power by bumping off your fellow aspirants to the throne. The PC is a fascinating character, a cross between Machiavelli and an interior decorator, and while the various NPCs aren't quite as interesting--most of them run the gamut from very evil to very very evil--unraveling the various palace intrigues makes for plenty of nasty fun. Varicella is not, however, meant to be solved in one try; there are so many things to do in so little time that saved games are unlikely to be useful (though it's not a major drawback, since the game lasts less than 100 moves). The writing is top-notch, the puzzles are ingenious, and the game's world is vividly conveyed, but it's the ending, which forces the player to take another look at everything that's come before, that makes this an instant classic. Unedifying, to be sure, but brilliant.
Browser-Playable Version (@ I-Fiction)
Full Freeware (uploaded by IFDB)
Included in Best IF Games folder of: Infocom Universe Bootleg Full Demo (provided by Gr.Viper & uploaded by Molitor) 389MB

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