Number of Reviews: 9
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Come and get you exploration/puzzle-solving fix!, September 9, 2010
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.