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About the Story
In Enchanter, the first of a spellbinding series in the tradition of Zork, you are a novice magician whom Fate has chosen to do singlehanded combat with a dark and fierce power. But worldly weapons will avail you naught, for your foe is the Evil Warlock who holds sway over the land.
Language: English (en)
Current Version: Unknown
Development System: ZIL
Forgiveness Rating: Tough
Followed by sequel Sorcerer, by Steve Meretzky
Adventure Classic Gaming
A nice diversion
The puzzles in Enchanter are very clever. They are all reasonable, but they also require moments of “Eureka” insight. The little bit of story in Enchanter adds a lot to the typical dungeon crawl in Zork. The grim and gritty ambience is great. ON the other hand, the gameplay flaws that are typical of adventure titles from this past era require you to save your game often. In some cases, it leads to a cycle of save, explore and learn, and restore to repeat in order to find the optimal path.
Overall, Enchanter is a fun game. The few gameplay flaws are more than balanced by the ingenuities of the puzzles. While there is not a lot of story in this game, it is well told and is a nice diversion.
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The Enchanter Trilogy
The game basically centers around the collection of more and more magical spells to add to your arsenal. These spells are what enable you to defeat the aforementioned tricks and traps, along with some well-timed help from a few NPC's (including the Adventurer from Zork I, a classic moment if ever there was one!). [...] Enchanter is a fun game that will provide you with some hours of enjoyment.
-- Molley the Mage
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On the whole...
On the whole, Enchanter works, and while there are problems--I wish the authors had rethought the insistence on hunger, thirst and sleep, for example--this is an example of one of Infocom's more solid early efforts. Though it takes a very different approach to its fantasy element than does Zork I, it's no less entertaining for that.
-- Duncan Stevens
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Infocom packed enough puzzles into under 80 locations and made the whole game ooze such atmosphere that you rapidly get sucked into the plot. Rated standard level, it's not particularly hard - just hard enough to keep you thinking.
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>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
That basic mechanic — spellcasting — is dynamite. Instead of accumulating more and more objects, the PC of this game accumulates skills, sometimes even superpowers. Sure, some of these skills are comically puzzle-specific, but even so, every new spell added to the spell book makes the PC feel more capable and powerful. Rather than just some wandering kleptomaniac who knows how to put rod A into slot B and goes around doing various versions of that again and again, the Enchanter protagonist feels like an organically growing and improving being.
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Number of Reviews: 6
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After finishing Moonmist and Seastalker, I felt the time had come to tackle one of Infocom's normal difficulty games. Since everyone seems to enjoy Enchanter, that seemed to be as good a place to start as any.
From a modern perspective, Enchanter has a number of features that do not immediately create enthusiasm: you are subjected to hunger, thirst and fatigue; your inventory space is limited; there are many ways to die; and the game can be put in an unwinnable state. Still, Enchanter isn't quite as foreboding as that list may make it sound. There is an unlimited supply of drink and, uh, sleep; a limited but large supply of food; the number of objects you need to carry around is small; you'll generally know when you're about to do something dangerous; and it's almost always clear which actions are irreversible. The result of this is that Enchanter feels quite friendly, even though you'll be seeing that Restore-menu a lot more than is strictly speaking desirable.
Enchanter is slightly different from Adventure and Zork in that you'll need to use spells rather than objects to solve most problems. This difference is of course mostly cosmetic -- it doesn't really matter whether you light up the darkness by saying "frotz" or by wielding a lantern -- but it reduces guess the verb problems and allows the designers to implement some effects that would have been hard to visualise using material objects. Also, learning spells from scrolls is simply cool.
The puzzles are generally good and well-clued. I hardly used hints, and never for the interesting parts of the puzzles. Most of them ask for pretty straightforward application of spells or objects found, but there a few more complicated puzzles which are also more memorable: especially the puzzle with the hammer and the puzzle in the translucent rooms.
In terms of story and atmosphere, Enchanter is functional and no more. You are a young enchanter, you must defeat the evil warlock, his castle is east of here -- that kind of stuff. Still, having a story and a sensible (if fantastic) set of locations is a major step up from Zork. The writing is short and to the point, serious with the occasional joke. Most of the jokes work, too, although the effects of a certain useless scroll were rather juvenile.
So, should you play Enchanter? You should if you would like to explore a sizeable game world, collecting special abilities along the way, and then solve a number of fine puzzles. That is the experience the game seeks to deliver, and it succeeds. If you are looking for story, characters, thematic writing -- look elsewhere.
This early Infocom game seems well-designed for first-time players to explore the world of text adventures. However, to a modern player, the descriptions are overly spare. I understand that many of the empty rooms are there to give the feeling of being in a castle or wandering around the nearby world but I would have loved to see much more description and interaction.
The gentle intro teaches the player how to cast spells and search the outskirts to find a way into the castle. One has to keep track of food and water throughout the game - although that is a nuisance it does make us aware of the passing of time and the passing of days and nights. It's a little irritating but not bad. Similarly, having to juggle items can be a nuisance but was part of the convention of the time.
Not everything is important. There are some random encounters with critters that don't affect the puzzles but do provide flavor. There's an odd emphasis on discovering treasures that mattered in Zork but seems to be just extra here. There were in fact so many unessential details that we missed something which turned out to be essential. (We ended up having to look at the Invisiclues for hints.)
Mid-game was frustrating as we figured out some tricky puzzles early on and missed out on easier puzzles. We ended up in a dead-end a few times by casting a spell incorrectly but didn't realize this.
Getting to talk to animals was wonderful, and a few of the NPCs were quite entertaining.
The endgame was very satisfying, even though we had to save and restore multiple times to figure out the key things we needed to complete our goals.
Enchanter is a good game for its time and was fun to play.
To start out, as much as infocom may have said this is not Zork IV, it is basically Zork IV. (You can visit this place in Zork III, and the game includes the Zork Adventurer as an NPC).
The game has a story, albeit a basic one- you are a weakling novice mage, one so minor the big bad mage Krill won't even notice you mucking about his castle. So go kill him.
The game includes a magic system which works nicely, and a very annoying hunger/thirst puzzle.
Some of the puzzles in this game seem to have multiple solutions. However, you will find that solving them the "wrong" way, will leave you without the tools to solve later puzzles, as I found out when I played it. You do run into some issues with the randomness aspect (that Zork Adventurer keeps running around before I can cast my spells on him!), and there are some times you need to use out of world knowledge to solve puzzles. (The last battle requires 3 specific spells, and you don't know you need to memorize them until you get there, and then it's too late).
The writing is wonderful, and you do get a sense of dread as time goes on, pushing you to complete the game faster. There are plenty of ways to screw with the spellcasting system, such as breaking everything, then repaing it with the repair spell, or summoning all kinds of people like the game designers or Krill himself. There is also a very clever (and nasty) puzzle involving a magic map and an imprisoned beast.
I played this game and loved it, and I am a big fan of the fantasy/Zorkian genre. If you are as well, you will love this game. If not, then this game will not be for you.
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