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The Infocom Project: Spellbreaker

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Had some time over the holidays, so I banged out another Infocom game: Spellbreaker. [color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=arial]For more information about my attempt to finish all of these games, see here:[/font][/color]https://www.gamedev.net/blog/717/entry-2259971-the-infocom-project/


Spellbreaker is hailed as perhaps the most difficult Infocom game, and is the culmination of the classic series of Zork-like fantasy games, starting with the Zork Trilogy, and followed by Enchanter (at one time named Zork IV) and Sorceror. I have a history with Spellbreaker; the previous two games being some of my favorite Infocom games, I made a previous attempt at solving it. At some point I was feeling pretty good about my progress, but for some reason I glanced at the map that came with my Masterpieces of Infocom collection. When I saw how much still remained undiscovered, I gave up in frustration. This time, I made it all the way through.

The good:

  • I love the spell system, introduced in Enchanter, and it still works well here.
  • Plus the cube system was a cool new wrinkle.
  • Audaciously complex in the design of the puzzles (so many puzzles!) and how they fit together. The scope of this game is plus-one from previous Infocom games that I've played.
  • Good writing, with a touch of humor (especially the introduction).
  • Difficult (sometimes extremely so) puzzles, which (mostly) have very logical solutions once you figure it out.

    The bad:

    • I found the end-game puzzles (the Sand Room and the very end) completely inscrutable, and had to resort to heavy reading of the Invisiclues to figure out what I was supposed to do. I thought the hinting in the Sand Room was poor, with random deaths for inexplicable reasons. I can't say more to avoid spoilers.
    • There were many times in the game where I faced a number of difficult puzzles (or red herrings), and worked furiously on all of them, only to later realize that all but one of the puzzles were not solvable at that time; further locations had to be explored to progress on most of the puzzles. I suppose this is actually an Infocom staple, but I found it especially frustrating, maybe because the puzzle difficulty is higher in this game.
    • The overall plot didn't make much sense to me. Who the villain was and what he was really trying to accomplish, just didn't tie together in a satisfying manner.
    • Some of the areas in the game felt incomplete, consisting of just a room or two, and existing only so you could pick up an item from the area.

      Puzzle frustration: High. I referred to Invisiclues pretty often. Many times, all I needed was, "You can't solve puzzle X until you've visited location Y", but the end-game, I need lots of help with.

      I rate Spellbreaker as a disappointment. I respect the accomplishment of the game as a creation, but I didn't enjoy playing it nearly as much as its predecessors. Just too hard for me? Maybe.

      [color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=arial]Played Games, Best to Worst:[/font][/color]

      1. Enchanter
      2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
      3. Sorceror
      4. Zork III
      5. Zork II
      6. Zork I
      7. Planetfall
      8. Wishbringer
      9. Stationfall
      10. Spellbreaker
      11. Plundered Hearts
      12. The Leather Goddesses of Phobos
      13. Infidel
      14. Starcross
      15. Seastalker
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