An excellent introduction to puzzle-based interactive fiction.
Note: The following is a cross-post of a review I wrote on MobyGames
of Wishbringer, an Infocom interactive fiction / text adventure
published in 1985.
Put simply, it’s very friendly and pleasant, without feeling like it’s "hand-holding". Being a puzzle-based IF newbie, this was the first Infocom game I won, and as such the puzzles were logical, fun, and satisfying.
There’s actually multiple ways to get through most of the puzzles–you can either use the Wishbringer stone or get through it using other means, which makes the game very friendly for newcomers.
The writing was also well-done and engaging, although at times some of the fantastic elements seemed a little random; but then again, the Zork universe (which the game is set in) is pretty random, so go figure. Still, overall the story and characters are quite memorable.
The encumbrance system for your inventory is very realistic, but it only serves to complicate the gameplay; you can’t hold many things at once, so I constantly found myself having to stash things in rooms, restoring a game every so often when I was cut off from an item I needed.
Unlike most modern adventure games, just because you’re still alive in the game doesn’t necessarily mean it’s possible to win it; however, as long as you pick up anything that’s not nailed to the ground, and as long as you save your games regularly (and under different names), you’re good to go.
The non-Wishbringer solution to one of the early puzzles involving a troll is very unintuitive, in my opinion, and even the Wishbringer solution is a little non-obvious. It’s unfortunate that the only frustrating puzzle in the game (for me, at least) was near the very beginning.
The Bottom Line
Of the other attempts at puzzle-based interactive fiction I’d made prior to this game, Wishbringer was by far the least frustrating and the most enjoyable. I’d definitely recommend this game to anyone who hasn’t played puzzle-based interactive fiction before.