Reviewed by John Sweeney


Issue 19

Jan/Feb 86

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48K Diskette


Wishbringer is the latest text adventure from the acknowledged Number One in the field - Infocom. Anyone with an interest in good adventures must surely be familiar with at least some of their previous 15 adventures, from Zork through to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Their new game is undoubtedly up to their usual very high standard, and, although it is labelled by Infocom as an 'Introductory Level' adventure, it is bound to please even the most experienced adventurers.

Wishbringer comes with the usual high quality packaging, complete with the actual Wishbringer stone (it glows in the dark!), a Mysterious Envelope (not to be opened until delivered!), a map of the whole village wherein the game takes place, and an excellent manual, complete with legends and sample scripts to help the inexperienced.

The game is introductory in two senses. First, lots of help is provided, once you have found Wishbringer (and the appropriate artifacts to activate it) you can wish for Advice. Some of the problems can also be solved by using a wish (you have seven wishes in total) and the map saves you the problem of mapping most of the game and also includes a clue. It does serve another purpose but you won't discover that till much later!. It is also 'introductory' in that it is actually Zork 0! (Check the product code on the diskette if you don't believe me.) At one point in the game you find yourself 'standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There's a little mailbox here.' Just in case you have been living North of the Arctic Circle for the last ten years - those are the opening words of the legendary ZORK. If you do the right things the mailbox will uproot itself and follow you lovingly around for the rest of the game! As you leave this mysterious area you are warned that you have a feeling that you will see this place again!

When you start the game you find yourself a humble post boy in a small village. You soon discover that your mission in the game is to deliver a letter to an old lady. This all seems innocent enough, and you only have to solve a couple of problems to achieve it. That's when the trouble starts! She gives you another mission - to rescue her cat! What she doesn't tell you is that failure to do this will result in doom for all, and that the village has been transformed in to an evil place full of evil monsters from your worst nightmares.

As usual you have all the benefits of an Infocom game. It actually understands English - with the ability to parse input like 'give the brown letter to the old woman then ask her for a cup of water', and a vocabulary of over 1000 words. There aren't many things that you can type in that it won't understand and if it doesn't understand then it tells you why not. It has vast amounts of text stored on the diskette, so that responses to your actions are sometimes whole screenfulls of data. They have programmed interesting, misleading or humorous responses to just about anything you might try. For instance, it is possible to win the game without ever being caught by the Boot Patrol, but if you do get caught you can escape, not once but twice! If you are foolish enough to let yourself get caught again you get thrown to the sharks - but even now death can be avoided provided that you have made the right friends! Furthermore during the two pages of amusing text that scroll up at this point you will witness the demise of the Boot Patrol, AND you can still complete the quest! None of that is necessary to the main line of the solution - it's just there for fun - to make the game more enjoyable! With descriptions like Infocom's, who needs graphics? And finally, there is humour. All Infocom games are riddled with jokes, and this one is no exception. For example, in the Grue's nest (Grues are the nasty things that lurk in the dark) you will find a refrigerator, and since Grues like the dark, what could be more natural than the fact that the light inside the fridge goes OUT when you open the door?

One extra nice touch to the game is that when you finally complete the quest and save the world, you will probably find that you have not got all the points. The reason is that some of the points are gained by solving certain problems WITHOUT using wishes. So, you can play the game, happily using wishes where useful, until you have won once. Then you can play the game again, trying to solve it without wishes - two adventures for the price of one!

If you get hooked then you can carry on with Zork, Zork II, Zork III, Enchanter (Zork IV), and Sorceror (Zork V) and by the time you finish those they may have written the long awaited Zork VI!