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The source files and a precompiled ZMachine storyfile of this adventure were recovered from a salvaged "Infocom hard drive", and made publicly available on GitHub in an effort to preserve them.

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Wishbringer

by Brian Moriarty

Fantasy, Zorkian
1985

(based on 107 ratings)
13 reviews

About the Story

It's an ordinary day in your ordinary little town, and you've been performing your ordinary mail clerk's duties in an altogether ordinary way. But there's something quite extraordinary in today's mail. It's a ransom note for a kidnapped cat, and it will lead you through unbelievably harrowing adventures to Wishbringer, a stone possessing undreamt-of powers. For though the note in question is addressed to someone in your ordinary little town, it's postmarked for Special Delivery to Parts Unknown. And its true destination is somewhere beyond your wildest dreams, c/o the magic of Infocom's interactive fiction.

Difficulty: Introductory


Game Details


Awards

22nd Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2011 edition)

23rd Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2015 edition)

29th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2019 edition)

38th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2023 edition)

Editorial Reviews

Adventure Classic Gaming

The strongest points of this game are its rich text, humor, and clever puzzles. It is a well designed game for a novice adventurer and a great introduction to the entire genre. Multiple solutions to puzzles and good dose of nonlinear puzzles stand as testimonials to its design strength. The puzzles are a bit too easy and the game is far too short. Occasionally, the time constraints can be a little frustrating. There are times I recall which I have to restart the game because I have not done or gotten something that I need in a later part of the game. Luckily the game is short enough that this shortcoming does not pose a serious problem.
-- Ernest Petti
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Gaming Enthusiast
Most interactive fictions are quite difficult, but there are some titles which can serve as a great and painless introduction to the genre. One of them is Wishbringer (1985) written by Brian Moriarty.
-- Toddziak
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SPAG
The atmosphere wavers between being comic and sinister, and is difficult to classify. At times it seems almost as though it is trying to be a children's game, what with having the plot revolve around a kidnapped cat, and supplying such fanciful images as talking platypii, and disembodied boots that patrol the town.
-- Graeme Cree

What I like the best about this game is that it works with small means. There are no horrible monsters, no monstrously evil super-villains - but the transformation of idyllic Festeron into a distorted, evil mirror image of itself is far more effective; at least the first time I played it, it managed to fill me with a fundamental, existential dread that is much worse than any fear for monsters or evil wizards.
-- Magnus Olsson
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SynTax
For those who enjoy magic and fantasy, this is a great game. Not perhaps for the more experienced adventurer who would find the problems too easy, but I found it highly entertaining and full of atmosphere.
-- Joan Dunn
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Member Reviews

5 star:
(39)
4 star:
(42)
3 star:
(22)
2 star:
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Number of Reviews: 13
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


14 of 14 people found the following review helpful:
Easy, but too charming to discount, March 12, 2008

Wishbringer was part of Infocom's "introductory" line -- an attempt to bring a wider audience to interactive fiction by creating works that would appeal to those who had never played a text adventure before. Only a few introductory titles were produced, and this one is my favorite by far.

It is also the most effective. Unlike the other introductory titles (Moonmist and Seastalker), Wishbringer provides an easy-to-follow orientation to the IF interface in its opening sequence; the first tasks are going someplace, taking something, looking at it -- all of the basic commands experienced players take for granted. As with all introductory titles, the first few moves use an explicit prompt ("OK, what do you want to do now?") to hold the hand of those who are not sure how IF works.

This courtesy extends throughout the rest of the game. Puzzles are solvable in at least two ways: easy (using a wish) and hard (using your brain). Maximum points are awarded for solving puzzles the hard way, but those who just want to see the story advance will not regret wishing their way to the end -- though they may be prompted to go back and improve their score.

Part of the game's allure is its "once upon a time" tone, which is well-suited to freeing the imagination. This is enhanced by -- or perhaps the product of -- the enchanting writing style of Brian Moriarty (author of Trinity, which many people consider to be the best Infocom title ever). Most of the rest of its allure is probably due to the unforgettable platypi.

Those new to the game will likely have to do without its wonderful "feelies". The glow-in-the-dark Wishbringer replica was a little cheesy, but it was one of my favorites (second only to Planetfall's postcards, stationery, and Stellar Patrol ID). Even without these, Wishbringer is probably the ideal IF primer for young people and those young-at-heart.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Good Game with a Major Flaw, August 14, 2021
by ccpost (Greensboro, North Carolina)

I'm a newcomer to IF, and so I've been working my way through some of the classics to get acclimated and learn a bit about the history of the form along the way. As a game consciously designed for and marketed to 'adult novices,' I thought this would be an ideal game to play early on in my IF career.

Wishbringer definitely fits the bill as a good game for beginners. The story is charming, the atmosphere is engaging, the puzzles are interesting but not difficult, and the game overall is quite forgiving. I appreciate how the narrator prompts the player to save at key times when an irreversible action is about to be taken, for instance.

The fairy tale tone and the at times whimsical to surreal atmosphere of the town was done to good effect. I also found the map to be perfectly sized, as I quickly internalized the town layout of Festeron. This works well since meat of the game is a non-linear treasure hunt/puzzle solving deal that involves exploring the mostly open map. Despite the relatively small map, there are really two Festeron's that you get to explore since the world goes topsy-turvy after the introductory section of the game. I may play through again just to explore some of daytime Festeron.

While I liked all of those aspects of the game, there's a major flaw (to my mind) in the game design that keeps this a merely good not great game. The game centers around a magic stone, the Wishbringer, that can grant 7 different wishes. However, Moriarty &co decided to make using the Wishbringer optional, a way to make puzzles easier to solve for newcomers and build in more challenging (and more rewarding) ways to solve puzzlers for advanced players. I was looking forward to the magic/wishing aspect of the game, though I never actually used the stone. Even as a newcomer, I was able to solve the game without using the stone. If the wishes had been actually integrated into the puzzles and story, rather than leaving them as an optional feature, I would have loved rather than just liked this game.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Everybody Loves Wishbringer, July 13, 2023
by Drew Cook (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

That isn't true, of course.

There is no such thing that "everybody" loves, unless it is a good night's sleep. Still, Wishbringer is emblematic of the shifting critical fortunes of Infocom games over the years. If we consider this site's aggregation alongside Victor Gijsbers's top 50 polls, we might guess that only a handful of Infocom's games retain the stature that they enjoyed, say, twenty-five years ago. At last polling (2019), those most-loved games include Spellbreaker, Wishbringer, Zork I, A Mind Forever Voyaging, Suspended, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and Trinity. The mix has shifted slightly in each successive poll, but Wishbringer has remained a constant. The aggregation tells an entirely different story: Planetfall, as only one example, is on the front page of IFDB games listed by rating!

Why Wishbringer? Much comes down to the talents of Brian Moriarty, who makes his stunning debut with this "Introductory" game for all audiences. The prose is descriptive and charming, and a "double world" of light and dark fills exploration with feelings of recognition and wonder. Its good-natured humor lacks the snark of so many Infocom games, and the experience is better for it.

The feelies and packaging only enhance the fairy-tale ambiance of the game and include a glow-in-the-dark "wishing stone" and an illustrated "Legend of Wishbringer" story. The story is darker than one might expect, but the quality of the content is excellent.

Regarding gameplay, I have "good news and bad news." The good news is that Wishbringer features multiple solutions to puzzles, which widens its audience and essentially offers multiple difficulties. This is an innovative approach that I'm not sure Infocom replicated elsewhere. (Spoiler - click to show)I wouldn't count Zork III's "hello sailor" solution, since that's more of an easter egg. If you can think of other cases, please mention them in a comment!

The bad news, at least for me as a little boy, is this: making wishes is the "easy" mode and awards no points. As a kid with a game called "Wishbringer" and a glowing wishing stone, I wanted to make wishes. I also wanted a high score. I cannot fault any child, young or old, for feeling disappointed.

I should recognize that this is still an Infocom game from the 1980's, which means that some of it will seem quite unfriendly to contemporary players, despite obvious efforts to make itself accessible to audiences of its time. In particular, one can make the game unwinnable early on without knowing. Wishbringer also punishes the player for (Spoiler - click to show)not drawing a map in a specific place, and it feels quite jarring in a game so friendly.

Still, these are all faults that Wishbringer manages to transcend. Don't let the "Introductory" designation fool you. This game is incredibly charming, very well written, and, whatever its failings might be, quite innovative in terms of its approach to difficulty. Highly, highly, highly recommended.

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Wishbringer on IFDB

Recommended Lists

Wishbringer appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Games that made me smile by MathBrush
I wanted to do a list of comedy games, but I think people rarely think "I want to play a comedy game"; to me, the phrase brings up some kind of jokey, goofy game, like many of the poorly made Twine games that people make now. Instead,...

Best of each authoring system by Denk
I intend to try the best games of each authoring system, so there will no doubt be many changes to this list in the future. So far, I think the following games are the best for each system I have tried: (games in alphabetic order)

Games for Cindy by Matt Bates
Games that I would love to share with you.

See all lists mentioning this game

Polls

The following polls include votes for Wishbringer:

IF with a sense of wonder by blue/green
What interactive fiction would you recommend that evokes a sense of wonder? These could be games that capture wonder or beauty in ordinary things, perhaps by viewing the world through the eyes of a child. Or they could be games that...

long games for beginners by Cygnus
so… you know how savior fair is long and awesome, but also, like, complicated? and.. cruel, as the ratings out it? I think the first thing that goot me INTO IF was anchor head. kinda that difficulty. recently played d’arkun and that was...

Solved without Hints by joncgoodwin
I'm very interested in hearing truthful accounts of at least somewhat difficult games (or games that don't solve themselves at least) solved completely without recourse to hints, walkthroughs, etc.

See all polls with votes for this game




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