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(based on 47 ratings)
About the Story
Spellbreaker, the riveting conclusion to the Enchanter trilogy, explores the mysterious underpinnings of the Zorkian universe. A world founded on sorcery suddenly finds its magic failing, and only you, leader of the Circle of Enchanters, can uncover and destroy the cause of this paralyzing chaos.
Language: English (en)
Current Version: Unknown
Development System: ZIL
Forgiveness Rating: Cruel
Sequel to Sorcerer, by Steve Meretzky
Balances, by Graham Nelson
Beyond Zork, by Brian Moriarty
Scroll Thief, by Daniel M. Stelzer
SPIRITWRAK, by D. S. Yu
Adventure Classic Gaming
On the positive side, this game is crowded with both characters and puzzles, making the land of Quendor come alive. The puzzles are interesting and vary greatly in style. On the negative side, there is no focus to your trek through the cubes. You do not find out where you are going and why until the end of the game. I also like to know more about the shadowy figure as I progress through the quest, in order to lend some urgency and direction to the trek through the cubes.
-- David Tanguay
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The Enchanter Trilogy
What you will discover is a game which deals with metaphysics and magic with equal facility, along with challenging puzzles and wonderful writing. In short, Spellbreaker is a game with almost no equal. Be warned, however, that it is HARD -- much more so than either of the previous two games in the trilogy. However, the puzzles are all quite logical, and most involve the intelligent applications of the various spells which you will again find, along with the collection of strange white cubes which when invoked in the proper manner transport you to alternate places and times.
-- Molley the Mage
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[...] one of Infocom's very best.
Though the plot of the game amounts to, as with the first two entries, "save the world from an evil force through your use of magic", there is far more going on here -- and the plot is much more integrated into the game as a whole. The initial development/hook, though very different from the device in Sorcerer, has considerable shock value -- and, incidentally, serves to draw the player into the story rather than sounding a false alarm. Learning the "rules" of the game takes some time, and there are numerous opportunities to make the game unwinnable, many more than in Enchanter or Sorcerer (including one juxtaposition early in the game that seems like a "pull-my-finger" joke of sorts) -- but the unconventional nature of the story makes every new development a new discovery in a way that cannot be said of your average collect-the-treasure cave quest.
-- Duncan Stevens
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Number of Reviews: 5
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Despite the fact that this game is incredibly linear, especially at the end, it has a remarkable way of making you feel like you can do anything.
Part of this is because your main form of transportation is a sort of teleportation. You can go to any area of the game you have previously visited, at any time - although certain rooms in that area may become inaccessible.
Many of these areas have scenes that play out when you arrive. If you go back too many times, this may start to seem silly and repetitious, but the nature of the story and the puzzles tends to keep this from being an issue.
Another reason the game feels so "open" is because so much of it is outdoors. A very small number of connections between outdoor locations makes it seem like you could travel anywhere even without the teleportation ability. Probing the environment reveals this to be an illusion, but most of the time it is a perfectly acceptable one. Occasionally this gets annoying, though. (Spoiler - click to show)One pet peeve of mine is that if you leave the Bazaar by carpet, and then immediately go straight back down, you can't return to the Bazaar. I suppose the reason is that you get lost in the clouds, but I don't find that entirely convincing.
I found Spellbreaker incredibly difficult - BOTH times I played it. The first time was 15 or 20 years ago. It's curious to examine which puzzles I found difficult and which were not so much. The matters of pure logic (Spoiler - click to show)(The Plain and the "weighing" problem in the Outer Vault) were no problem, but knowing which objects and locations needed more exploration were a complete mystery to me. I turned to hints for several of these: One puzzle is pretty straightforward once you are presented with all the pieces, but it is in a location I was discouraged from revisiting, because of the tedious precautions needed to get there without getting yourself stuck. (Spoiler - click to show)(returning to Mid-Ocean after you get the snavig spell)
I had to use hints on both plays in order to get through the "maze." (Spoiler - click to show)(The octagonal rooms) It's not quite a guess-the-verb puzzle, but it's the sort of thing where you know roughly what you need to do, and you're still completely unable to figure out what action will do it. Once you find the right action, there's still the actual traversal of the maze to solve, but being of a logical nature, I didn't find that part difficult at all.
I was as stumped as Peter about that inventory object with hidden uses. In fact, there were several aspects of Spellbreaker that might have made more sense with more room to explain. I don't think I'm giving away anything to say that the jindak spell works only on takeable objects in your location. Magical scenery and magical items in your possession will not register when you cast it. It took me quite a while to figure that out. Several puzzles in Spellbreaker depend critically on timing and repetition - if you don't do them just right, you might think you're barking up the wrong tree. I think Peter might have had this in mind when he said that Spellbreaker "messes with you!" On occasion, this makes it more fun, but it's a very fine line, and I think Spellbreaker crosses it more than once. Curiously, there's one occasion when this makes a puzzle easier in a way. (Spoiler - click to show)I didn't realize that the real cube in the Outer Vault might either glow less or more than the fakes. This makes the puzzle harder to do correctly, but I just assumed I'd made a mistake and went back to my savegame in the Inner Vault until I got the solution I expected. After I read the details in the hints, I went back and devised my own solution just for fun. Another thing I missed by using a savegame until I got the solution was that the alarm is only triggered by spellcasting and taking the treasure, not by taking turns or picking up cubes. The uncertainty gave the puzzle an imagined time pressure that didn't really exist.
There's one other timing issue at an early point in the game that I still haven't figured out. (Spoiler - click to show)If you go down from Packed Earth too early, you can fall to your death without the roc picking you up. I have absolutely no idea why.
I needed hints for the final puzzle in Spellbreaker the first time I played it, but the solution was so memorable that I couldn't forget it the second time around if I tried. In hindsight, it's so elegant that you almost forgive Lebling for failing to provide the slightest clue as to its nature...
Finally, Spellbreaker has the absolute best carryall object I've seen in any IF game. Not only is it a wacky brilliant idea, but it makes gameplay smoother in a way that doesn't break mimesis.
Spellbreaker must have been the inspiration for games like Mulldoon Legacy, Lydia's Heart, Jigsaw, and other intensely long puzzle fests (I feel like Curses! is slightly easier). This is Infocom's last game of the Enchanter trilogy, which follows the Zork Trilogy.
This game is incredibly long and difficult. I played to about 150 points out of 600 before turning to a walkthrough (eristic's), and most of those points I got because I had played Balances by Graham Nelson, which copied many items from Spellbreaker (to show that Inform could achieve the same results). The game is purposely murderously hard; I suggest that everyone use a walkthrough after reaching a predetermined number of points.
Magic is failing, and you must chase a mysterious figure to learn why. The game is pretty disjointed, but purposely so, much like Jigsaw, where you enter and exit various areas miraculously. It has a very different feel from Sorcerer, and especially from Enchanter, which was very easy to map and simple in its presentation.
Many people have talked about the time travel puzzle in Sorcerer, which I enjoyed, but felt a little down because there was so much hype. Unfortunately, I am now hyping the last big puzzle of Spellbreaker to you. What a puzzle; to me, it was great because it completely ties in with the game's theme of loss and ending. It is a puzzle integrated with the plot.
As a final note, I should really emphasize that this is a LONG game, 2 or 3 times as long as any other Zork or Enchanter game. When using a walkthrough, I finished each of those games in a total recorded time (not counting my numerous restarts) of about 16 minutes; this game, including several restarts to shave off the starting time, took 1 hour and 22 minutes.
I played this game on iOS's Lost Treasures of Infocom.
generally, there are two types of hard games. in a game with fake difficulty, the problem is conveying to the story exactly what you're trying to do because you can't seem to figure out how to phrase it so the game will understand you. in a game with real difficulty, you have a wide variety of tools to tackle the situations you encounter, but each puzzle will require a different sort of lateral thinking and creativity.
a game with fake difficulty breeds frustration. a game with real difficulty induces obsession until you finally crack it.
Spellbreaker is absolutely a game with real difficulty. despite the surreal, disjointed landscape you're exploring, it's totally immersive. i never ran into the kind of blank incomprehension you see in a bad game; it was always just a matter of thinking harder about the puzzle and persevering.
this would be a five-star game, but i'm deducting a full star for the bank puzzle. it's derivative, uncreative, has iffy implementation, and even following the best-written walkthroughs i've never gotten better than a 50% chance of getting it right. (unfortunately, the use of stock puzzles would only get worse over time, hitting its nadir in Zork Zero.)
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