There is a deep literary tradition of the hero rising from humble origins. But few have come from origins so humble as junior letter carrier of the small town of Festeron to rise to the status of savior!
That is the destiny Wishbringer offers you. Festeron is a quaint, sleepy little town with characters no more villainous than the abrupt postmaster Mr. Crisp and the shrewish librarian Miss Voss. But Festeron is about to fall under an exceedingly dark spell cast by local malefactor "The Evil One", and it turns out that only you, and the Wishbringer stone which is soon to come into your possession, can stop it. The stone grants special wishes to anyone who holds it, although most require a special ritual or companion object in order to make the wish come true. (Wishing for rain requires an umbrella, for example.)
Early in the game, Festeron is darkly transformed into Witchville, a distorted mirror image of its former self full of bleak hopelessness and dreadful peril. (And a platypus.) By carefully picking your way through the suddenly-dangerous streets of Witchville, you can discover the true nature of the Wishbringer stone and restore Festeron to its former, quaintly happy state.
Wishbringer is one of the easiest Infocom games. This is in part a product of puzzle and game design--there are no mazes, and most of the puzzles are straightforward and many have multiple solutions. A big component of the difficulty rating is the Wishbringer stone itself. Each of the stone's wishes can be used to solve a particular puzzle, but there is an alternate, more difficult solution to each situation. Plus, the "wish for advice" generates a steady stream of clues. The game can therefore be played as an "ironman" experience by completely bypassing the wish system--something the game itself encourages you to do if you solve the game after having used one or more wishes.
The nice thing about text adventures with skillful, evocative writing is that the puzzles are not the game's only payoff. Sure, Wishbringer can be solved relatively quickly even if you don't have a physics degree. But by advancing in the game, you advance in a well-told story as well, and that is the real reward. Wishbringer definitely delivers on that front. The imagery of the town turned on its head is just the right blend of camp and truly creepy, although the overall mood of the game is meant to encourage players and therefore stays away from true despair. The game intertwines with other Infocom lore--an animated mailbox calls back to Zork I, and the player can visit a grue's lair (when the grue is not at home, thankfully.)
As usual, reading the original documentation is a must. You learn the legend of the Wishbringer stone and the methods of its use. Most importantly, you get access the map of Festeron, which not only aids in navigation but is crucial to solving a late-game puzzle.
Don't be afraid of the Dark. Let Wishbringer light the way!
As an aside, the novelization of Wishbringer by Craig Shaw Gardner is extremely good, and can be had for pennies. Play the game first, however.
|GRAPHICS - 5/10|
|SOUND - 5/10|
|PLAYABILITY - 10/10|
|The powerful Infocom parser, paired with a game which offers multiple solutions to its most significant puzzles. What's not to like?|
|OVERALL - 9/10|
|A fanciful story well-told, and an appealing adventure game both for novices and experts.|