1983 Infocom
Designed by Marc Blank, Dave Lebling
Reviewed 1998 August 18

Rating +1 Linearity open
Reasonability sporadic Connectivity moderate
Difficulty challenging Relevance strong
Interface text parser Real-time none

The warlock Krill is causing problems. The Circle of Enchanters wants him stopped, but an ancient prohpecy warns against sending a powerful enchanter. So you, a novice enchanter, are sent to Krill castle to look for a weakness.

You head off to the castle with minimal back-story. A few blanks are filled in at the castle, but mostly you simply hunt for magic to overcome obstacles that enable you to get more powerful magic, eventually leading to a showdown with Krill. The setting is good, though. The castle is nicely presented, and feels like a real castle as opposed to a collection of rooms. You even get to enlist other creatures to help you along. Enchanter has a few humourous touches, mostly dark, but it's mostly a suspenseful romp. There are some horrible minions to attend to.

Enchanter tries to sharpen the suspense and give a flow of plot by modelling the passage of time. This has mixed results. One expression of passing time is the hunger and thirst that you must deal with. This adds nothing to the story and is just tedious to deal with. Since there is a limited amount of food, you end up saving the game, exploring an experimenting, then restoring to accomplish things optimally. The other expression of time is in the movement of the sun and the necessity of sleep. This works well since some challenges require darkness and since you can dream while sleeping. The dreams provide necessary clues.

An important part of the gameplay consists of finding magic scrolls. This requires careful observation and inspection. The problem oriented challenges are innovative and fun. The solutions require creativity rather than perseverance. There is one annoying design flaw that pops up several times: you must die to acquire necessary intelligence. Certain spells must be readied in advance, and there's no sure way to know which spells will be needed except by jumping in blindly, then restoring and doing it right.

Enchanter uses the basic Infocom text interface. Descriptions are colourful, but terse. There are several characters to cooperate with, to give commands to. Aside from being interesting challenges in themselves, they bring the world to life. Enchanter also introduces a spell casting mechanism which provides a fun new way to deal with obstacles.

It may not be much, quantitywise, but the back-story and goal oriented nature of your excursion adds a lot to what would otherwise be a simple dungeon crawl. The creativity of the challenges makes up for the design failings. The challenges can be tough, but their resolution is rewarding and entertaining.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.

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    David Tanguay's Game Reviews
    Here's a description of all the gobbledygook in these reviews. It's also a bit of an essay on the nature of adventure games.