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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.