This page explains how to lift the key curse in Shadows of Loathing.
Playing through Shadows of Loathing, and upon reaching Chapter 4, you will come across a quest involving a certain cursed key. This jinxed item holds a special value in the later parts of the game—However, in order to reap the benefit, it must first be uncursed.
Like anything worth its trouble, getting the key removed from its accursed state takes solving a puzzle. Particularly, about the killing of a certain NPC. Through the power of deduction, the player must identify how said NPC was killed, by whom, and why.
How to Solve the Key Curse Puzzle
Going through the quest, the player will eventually be facing the NPC who will finish it all—the coroner at the train car. But before you go directly to the conductor, talk to the three NPCs within the train car first in order to find clues and get the full picture behind the event.
You will be asked by the coroner to lay out what you learned about the killing, of which you must answer as follows:
- The victim was…: “poisoned…”
- by…: (name of the wife) …
- with…: “poison from the rubber tree…”
- (in order to safeguard a certain kid)
Solve the mystery and the coroner will attempt to bribe you with an owl ring in order to leave the case be. Speak to the coroner again in which you will be asked whether you wanted the ring—say you do not. The NPC will then claim the ring back and warp you out of the train car. You will eventually be placed back in a familiar room, upon which a prompt will appear stating an event has taken place with the key—the curse has been removed as implied.
Although players would be eager to complete any quest they may have come across in the game, it is worth mentioning that not tying up loose ends may have surprising consequences. In the case of the cursed key quest, it is the chance to keep the key in its damned state, which comes with its own unique and unexpected advantage. Specifically, it gives the players the ability to open any lock in-game, including the Black House gate.
Meanwhile, choosing to complete the quest, and thereby freeing the key from its ill fate, comes with the benefit of 30% higher chances of getting loots, via drops. Interestingly, opting to give up the owl ring cleanses the key even further, thus elevating its effects for a 50% boost to getting drops.
While getting 50% drops may have its perk for much of the entirety of the game, the benefit does not compare to being able to unfasten any lock. That is not to mention having the capability to bypass a path leading to the final boss, a great boon to speedrunners who are looking to finish the game as early as possible.