Enlightenment

by Taro Ogawa

Cave crawl/Zorkian
1998

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Number of Reviews: 6
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1-6 of 6


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A hilarious and difficult game for Zork/Adventure/Enchanter fans, February 3, 2016

In this one-room, complicated game that upends IF conventions, you must extinguish all of your many lightsources to let a grue eat the troll blocking your way.

Adventurers may recognize the lantern from Adventure and Infocom games, the elvish sword from the Zork games, and the amulet from Spellbreaker. There are several other lightsources to deal with. Other items from Infocom games include the stock certificate from Zork III (I think), the grue repellent from Zork II, Zork III, and Sorcerer; the screwdriver from Zork I; and many others.

This game is hard. Like many others, I played for over a half hour without extinguishing a single light source. But once you start to get a feel for the game, it gets better and better. Because of an early experiment, I got the wrong idea about one item and never solved one of the harder puzzles on my own.

I recommed trying to get half of the points before using a walkthrough.


1 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A Grip(e), July 18, 2010

I put a significant amount of effort into solving Enlightenment without hints, as I like the challenge and think that in general that's how IF should be tackled--by fanatically dedicated puzzle enthusiasts, who will stop at nothing for the glory of spoilerless conquest, etc.; but I'm now tempted to add this to my ever-increasing list of games that I'm not really prepared to believe that anyone has ever solved without consulting the hints. (It's not that I think that any game I can't solve without hints is automatically in that category. Far from it.)

What tripped me up and was most infuriating, upon learning the solution was:(Spoiler - click to show)getting the battery out of the sword. For whatever reason, the combination of not being able to drop the sword and what seemed to me to be an underclued reference to its battery compartment, etc., led me to think that it was much more likely than some subsequent turn-of-events would get rid of the sword for me than I would have to do it myself. I also think that getting a message about wasting water whenever you tried to pour it on something other than the lamp would lead someone to conclude that such an attempt would be equally futile, unless you were trying brute force combinations, which also seems to be only the way that anyone would ever guess that the amulet would fit into the tinderbox.

While I appreciated the humor of the "full score" command, I also think it would have been better design for that list to hint, at least obliquely, at the solution to some of the puzzles. I also didn't quite get what was going on with the stars after "grue"; the game makes some copyright acknowledgment to Activision in its opening text; and a lot of philosophy publishers would be paying royalties to them if "grue" were somehow IP-protected.


2 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Illogical Yet Immersive (For Masochists Only), January 1, 2010
by AmberShards (The Gothic South)

As others have noted, the writing is top-notch and places the player in a believable penumbra of the Zorkian universe. The over-the-top humor is also well done. The first glaring problem, however, is that the PC's actions and restrictions just don't make sense. Adventurers are known for trying all sorts of things in order to solve puzzles; it's their nature. Thus, the game fails right from the outset with a PC that is effectively straitjacketed.

The responses are entertaining -- at first, until they become tiresome and opaque. Apparently the puzzles depend upon doing random things until you figure out the secret parts of various objects that allow you to solve them. I say "apparently" because after 100 turns and still not a single point, I gave up in frustration.

Beyond the mindlessly illogical PC, the unclued nature of the puzzles, and the ridiculous catch-all behavior of the troll, there's not much to really set apart Enlightenment as a game. Don't misunderstand -- the writing is excellent, but the game mechanics are not, so as a game, Enlightenment just doesn't deliver the goods. I suppose you could spend an afternoon banging your head against the wall, but why do that? If you need to resort to hints to get even the first point, you might well love this game. Me, I'm not in favor of games that frustrating.

Enlightenment is basically for masochists only.


5 of 6 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.


9 of 9 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.


10 of 10 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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