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by Taro Ogawa

Cave crawl, Zorkian

(based on 40 ratings)
6 reviews

About the Story

"The intrepid Adventurer has escaped the caverns. Nought remains to block a successful escape but this troll here. Hmmm. A one-room adventure.
The author recommends this for people who grew up on Zork II and Advent, and begs people choosing their first piece of IF to play to look at other IF (preferably good IF!)."
[--blurb from The Z-Files Catalogue]

Game Details


Nominee, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best Individual NPC - 1998 XYZZY Awards

5th Place - 4th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (1998)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

A real adventurer never passes up a magical light source with unlimited power, but when darkness is desirable, all those extra photon producers can become seemingly-insurmountable obstacles. A fun one-room Zorkian game with difficult but solvable tinkering puzzles. Features adaptive hints.

-- Carl Muckenhoupt

>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

You've already overcome dozens of obstacles, collected lots of treasures, and scored 240 points out of 250; now there's just the little matter of getting past a canonical troll bridge and scurrying out of the caverns with your loot. But how? In the game's words:

If only you hadn't used your Frobozz Magic Napalm on that ice wall...
If only you hadn't used your TrolKil (*Tm) to map that maze...
If only you hadn't sold your Frobozz Magic Tinning Kit.
If only you hadn't cooked and eaten those three Billy Goats Gruff...
... or that bear ...

If ONLY you'd checked the bloody bridge on your way in.

This brief excerpt is representative of the writing in the game: it is both a very funny parody of the Zork tradition as well as an enthusiastic participation in that tradition. In fact, as you can see from the above quote, the game actually features some familiar parts of the Zork universe, such as Frobozz Magic products, rat-ants, and even certain slavering lurkers in dark corners... Sly allusions and in-jokes abound, but they're never what the game depends on, so if you don't catch them, you're not missing anything important. Of all the one-room games I've seen this year, Enlightenment is definitely the best-written.
See the full review

Jay Is Games
The most common drawback of these one-room works is a tendency to go overboard, offering so many layers of detail that the player is forced to examine every part of every object, and search an assortment of highly-detailed furniture—which becomes just as much a test of patience and memory as mapping a large area. Enlightenment avoids that excess, and manages to offer a lot of interaction depth without turning gameplay into a chore.
See the full review

[...] there is a certain unity to the puzzles that justifies the one-room framework, and they are difficult enough to tax the player's mental energy, even within the confines of the room.
-- Duncan Stevens

This game is well coded - I didn't find any errors - but too complex for my taste, and I suspect a lot of other people.
-- David Ledgard
See the full review

I found it a witty and enchanting game to play, until I reached the point where I had to dispose of the troll. Gulp. Call me faint-hearted, or burdened with too many scruples, but I found the sudden change from lighthearted problem-solving to a frankly brutal dispatch of the troll horribly jarring.
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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
I hate to be contrarian, but..., June 6, 2008
by Jimmy Maher (Oslo, Norway)

This game seems to be quite well-regarded by many, popping up in conversation fairly frequently despite having been released way back in 1998 by an author who has not to my knowledge done any IF work before or since. I wish I could say it impressed me as well, but it left me rather cold, both when I first played it back in the day and now when I return to it.

It certainly does have its strengths. The premise is that you are at the end of a much longer game, faced with solving the last few puzzles to escape a (if not The) great underground empire. This "ending of an (imaginary) longer game" riff is an idea that has been used several times since, to the point that it's become a bit cliched, but I can't hold that against this game. The writing is both technically proficient and generally clever, if unoriginal, being a rather slavish imitation of the "high Infocom" style. Technically, the game is also worthy of Infocom, being polished and bug-free.

But then we get to the puzzles. They're difficult. Very, very difficult, at least for me, and difficult in all the wrong ways. I don't see myself ever solving this without just trying random actions for the hell of it -- not really my kind of fun even then and certainly not now. When I give up on a game and go to the hints, I am guaranteed to react in one of two ways: either to be angry at myself for failing to think about THAT, or to be angry at the game for not playing fair. Suffice to say my reaction here was always the latter. Its worst sin is a failure to properly describe to me essential properties of objects that I need to be aware of to solve its puzzles: one object is sharp enough to be used for cutting, but I am never informed of this; a couple of others' sizes are of critical importance, but said sizes are never described; etc. It's a pity, as the central thing you are trying to achieve, and from which the game takes its name, IS clever and DOES give you a nice Ah-ha! moment when you figure it out. Unfortunately, solving the meta-puzzle just opens the door to lots of fiddly, under-clued frustration in trying to enact that solution.

I'm probably the wrong audience for this game in the end, which is why I'm not going to blast it too badly in scoring it. I'm just tired of puzzles that are an exercise in patience and frustration, and Infocom homages are not really what I'm looking for in my IF these days. If you do carry a hankering for the old-school days of Zork, though, and want to really be challenged, this may be right up your alley.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
Nails that classic Zork feel..., March 10, 2008

I knew I liked Enlightenment right from the start. Sure, Taro Ogawa (the author) has appropriated just about every last detail from the Zork universe, but he does it so well that you can't help but forgive him. This game is not just fan-boy homage or unimaginative plagiarism, this game is something new that was lovingly crafted using familiar elements. This game is Zork turned up to 11.

As in Zork, the game's terse replies are just encouraging enough to get you to continue for another few moves even when you feel stuck. Perhaps it's because this game emulates that iconic look-and-feel so well that I had the patience to keep trying after nearly an hour of play without a single point scored. Yes, there is that much non-essential material to keep you busy, with many jokes to discover, footnotes to unlock, and interesting-but-not-useful things you can do with the assortment of equipment you start with.

The game's title is well-chosen; once that first point is scored, they become easier and easier. For the last few turns of my game, everything fell into place, and I felt I truly had achieved enlightenment.

The game's end notes state that this piece is actually 19K larger than the original Zork I. I am surprised, but not too surprised. No course of action seems inherently off-limits or "wrong" for this game -- a difficult-to-achieve perceptual illusion that is no doubt the product of vast amounts of coding work and exceptionally careful playtesting on the author's part. Mr. Ogawa is to be congratulated for having pulled it off.

Enlightenment is a one-room game that you wish would go on to "feature length." Though Mr. Ogawa seems to have never produced another piece for public release, I sincerely hope to see more by him in the future.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Well Thought Out, Poorly Implimented, December 8, 2009
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

First of all, I love the premise of this game. You are already finished with an adventure in the underground, bundled up with light to avoid (grues) and there's a troll guarding the exit. To defeat him, you must turn out all the lights so the grues will eat him.

Sounds great, right? Problem is that the puzzles have seemingly random solutions. I like games like this, but when I was forced to look at the hints and say "Um... what?" I knew the game had problems.

For example, you have to target pieces of items that are not adequetely described. The size of items is not described and is relevant. One puzzle didn't make sense even after I solved it. (It makes sense, but I still don't see how I was supposed to guess it.) And guessing is the key to solving the puzzles.

I like the concept, and the writing is solid, but keep in mind, you'll be finding yourself typing "put all in [x]" just to see what fits where. And don't be surprised if things that should work just don't.

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The following polls include votes for Enlightenment:

Great Escapes by JonathanCR
Everyone knows that "escape the room" games and puzzles are an IF cliché. But which are the best examples of this classic genre?

Games for Beginners by WriterBob
I'm looking for games that are suited for adults who are new to IF. My purpose is to share these games with friends and let them get experience IF without being frustrated by mazes or guess-the-verb issues. Please avoid children's games....

Once More, With Feelies by Ghalev
I'm polling to learn of modern (post-commercial-era) IF that revels in the tradition of providing additional documentation & related materials which are evocative and deepen your enjoyment of the game. What games have gone that extra...

See all polls with votes for this game

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