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(based on 98 ratings)
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.
Language: English (en)
Current Version: Unknown
Development System: ZIL
Beyond Zork, by Brian Moriarty
Nothing But Mazes, by Greg Boettcher
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)
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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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.
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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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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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Number of Reviews: 11
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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.
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.
Touted as an adventure game for beginners by Infocom and Wishbringer certainly fits the bill. I played this text adventure when I was fourteen and required no hints for the duration. But this romp is still enjoyable for people of all ages and abilities.
You play a postman with a directive from your boss to deliver a package to an old lady who lives at the north edge of town, and by 5 o’clock or you’re fired! Delivering the package is easy enough, but what’s in the package, as you later discover, triggers a series of events that unveils the dark secrets of your town, spilling it in darkness and terror. Of course, the fate of the town rests in your hands, but you must first discover what the hell is going on.
The wishbringer itself is a magick (sic) stone that can cast several spells if one is carrying the proper items. While the spells can help the beginner get out of some sticky situations, solving the puzzles without the aid of the stone yields better results (and more points!). The experienced gamer will likely never need the stone, but it does provide replay value.
As per usual with Infocom adventures the writing is top-notch and plenty of humor finds it way into the normally creepy ambiance. While Wishbringer offers no surprises, it should be a pleasant and rewarding experience for most players.
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