Monday, January 15, 2024

Wishbringer: Won!


Last session, we delivered a letter - an ultimatum to deliver Wishbringer into the hands of The Evil One - to the kooky, isolated magic shop at the top of a windy, treacherous mountain path, and subsequently watched the township of Festeron go dark and transform into a foreboding, fog-swept pit of a city, a massive tower erected where the post office used to be.

Wishbringer itself is in our hands, concealed in the bottom of a rattlesnake-in-a-can taken from the shop's joke shelf, but the fog is quickly rising, concealing the safe footing of the trail back down.

I have the means to wish for advice, luck, or rain, but each wish is only granted once. Opening my umbrella and wishing for rain quickly disperses the fog, and I found myself at the bottom of the cliff again.

Returning to the bridge, things have changed. Festeron has become Witchville, and a troll guards it, demanding payment of a gold coin to cross. I had none, and couldn't see a means of obtaining one - perhaps one could be found in the fountain that I neglected to search during my trip through, but that was on the other side of the bridge now.

I thought that perhaps I could scare the troll off with the rattlesnake can, but to do that, I'd have to reload to a save from before opening it. And this also means I'd have to descend the foggy trail without magic. Blindly. But thanks to my Trizbort map, this was simple.

My thought was correct - the simple-minded troll opened the can and got spooked off by the snake inside, saving me a wish and a hypothetical gold coin. Crossing the bridge, an ominous sign bared a warning:


  Curfew Begins At 6 PM
   Boot Patrol On Duty
Violators Will Be Jailed!


Not good! And it was already after 6:00 when I left the magic shop.

I explored Witchville:

  • Giant, magic boots patrol the rotary. The sound of them stomping around can help you to sneak around without getting caught.
  • God no longer dwells in the church. The candle can be taken now, and the mouse infestation has become a rat infestation.
  • I searched the fountain water and saw a brass token, and a piranha that prevented me from taking it.
  • The police station has a wanted poster with my picture on it! Enter and the sergeant threatens to arrest you, but won't pursue if you leave.
  • The movie theater is open (How? There's a curfew!) and the gravedigger works as a ticket collector.
  • The vicious poodle south of the rotary is now a vicious hellhound.
  • A platypus is trapped in a pit near the cemetery gate, too narrow for us to enter, too deep for us to reach into.
  • The gate to the cemetery is unlocked, but ghosts infest it. Try to cross through and they carry you off to a random part of Witchville, and your possessions scatter all over the place.
  • The mailbox on the wharf is alive, and demands mail. I tried giving it Ms. Voss's note, but it rejected the offering; "Not STAMPED!" And it followed me around for awhile.
  • The rocky path leads to a familiar scene - an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door, and a little mailbox beside it. Soon, the big mailbox found me, and they fought to their mutual deaths.
  • Getting caught by the boots lands you in jail, but escape is pretty easy; an obvious secret passage leads to an underground maze.
  • Three ways out of the maze; a grue's nest with a refrigerator you don't have time to open, a stump at the top of Lookout Hill, and the open grave in the cemetery.

Stuck, with no ideas on what to do next, I wished for advice. The conch shell rang like a telephone - I picked it up, and a voice whispered "release a prisoner, be rewarded." I was pretty sure this referred to the platypus, but couldn't find any way to get it out, and so I turned to a walkthrough to see what I might be missing.

I restarted the game and followed it for a bit, mostly repeating prior actions but with a few more things picked up:

  • A gold coin (not bronze!) is found in the Festeron fountain during the day.
  • After descending the foggy trail, a branch can be broken off the tree at the base.


The branch rescues the platypus, who gratefully etches an 'X' into the sand. Digging reveals a silver whistle, which when blown began a surreal little episode where I was magically transported to a majestic castle of platypuses, who thanked me for rescuing their princess, and commanded me to bring a magic hat to a creature of the sea.

The creature was a pelican perched on the fake lighthouse. I gave it the hat, and learned the magic word - SORKIN.

Stuck again, I wished for advice, and got some - "One path Magick; one path Science; both lead to thy Goal." Useless!


So I turned to the walkthrough again. I am supposed to get arrested, take a blanket from the jail cell, and go to the grue's nest, where I may cover the grue with the blanket and raid its refrigerator.

Um. Okay. I did that, and found a bottle of grues' milk and an earthworm.

The earthworm baited the fish, letting me grab the brass coin, which I put into the sole working machine in the arcade, now titled "TRANSMATTER." The screen displayed a map of Festeron, corresponding to the map in the game package, and the machine's purpose became clear; operating the joystick selects a sector of the map, and pushing the button teleports you there (and fries the machine). Only the post office tower cannot be reached by foot, making it the obvious destination, and five points awarded upon its selection confirm this. But I didn't save just yet - it's a one-way trip, and my business in Witchville seemed unfulfilled. In particular, the movie theater's purpose wasn't yet clear.

SORKIN lowers the tower drawbridge, and upon entering it, Mr. Crisp seized me and dragged me to a torture chamber, where Princess Tasmania of the platypus kingdom was clamped into some diabolical machine. Really, Taz, twice in the same night?

I offered him the note from Miss Voss, and he blushed, removed his coat, and took off in a hurry. Grabbing and searching the coat procured a key, which freed me and the princess, who thanked me and blew her own magic whistle to leave.

Reading the note, an invitation to cookies from Miss Voss, revealed a clue - the poodle obeys the command "ALEXIS, HEEL."

Climbing up from the torture chamber, I ascended into the tower, where a room was described as "Fuzziness." I couldn't go anywhere, or look at anything - it was all too fuzzy. Every object in my inventory had become fuzzy. I couldn't seem to do anything, not even wish for advice.

Surely enough, I had missed something important at the movie theater. Miss Voss, who waits outside, sells tickets for the price of your gold coin if you type "BUY TICKET."

The gravedigger took my ticket and let me in, where the picture was a blurry double-image. I know what this means. I looked at the floor - this is something I'd never think of doing except for the fact that adventure game logic meant there had to be something useful in here - and found a pair of 3D glasses, letting me watch the movie.

I repeated my actions leading to the tower. Wearing the 3D glasses let me see inside the laboratory, where I found a telescope, control panel, broom, and a black cat - "black as night from head to tail," and therefore not Chaos.

The control panel de-activated some security system, and a crank hidden behind a painting lowered the drawbridge, letting me leave.

The hellhound outside Violet's cottage obeyed my command, letting me enter, where I found a steel key and a cutsey love message scrawled in the dust.

The key unlocked the library door, and upon entering, the door slammed behind me. No matter - here, I found a cat sculpture inside a display case, which I smashed with the umbrella. The sculpture was black marble, with a shallow hole carved into the forehead, just like Chaos!

With no other ideas, I put Wishbringer inside the hole. An old woman appeared, demanding I hand over the stone. Obviously a fraud, I ignored her and carried on. Energy rays shot out from the stone, annihilating her disguise, and afterwards herself.

I found myself transported back to the cliff edge.

The door of the Magick Shoppe creaks open, and the old woman, dressed in a nightgown, stands blinking in the morning sun. "Who's there?"

The black cat leaps into the woman's arms. "Chaos!" she cries, laughing and sobbing all at once as the cat licks tears of joy from her face.

At last the old woman lowers Chaos to the ground and walks over to where you're standing, red with embarrassment.

"Now you know me for the old liar I am," she chuckles, clasping your hands gratefully in her own. "I promised to give you Wishbringer, knowing full well that, if you succeeded, its virtue would be lost.

"In truth, the Stone would make a poor reward," she continues, stooping to tickle the cat's white forehead. "As you can see, it brings more joy in the shape of a companion than in any other. This is Wishbringer's finest Magick. A pity that my sister, the Evil One, did not know of it."

The old woman touches the violet note in your hand. "Make sure you give this to Mr. Crisp when you see him," she says with a sly wink. "And tell him I said hello."

Cradling Chaos in her arms like a child, the old woman ambles back into the Magick Shoppe. "Farewell!" she calls from the closing door, and the sunlight makes her face look young. "Now you are a true Adventurer."

A concealed bell tinkles merrily.

Congratulations! You've finished the story of Wishbringer!

Your score is 100 points out of 100, in 297 moves.


GAB rating: Good, but not great. There's some decent writing and storybuilding here, albeit with some aspects that can come across as childish when I don't think they were meant to. The colorful cast of characters - often not an Infocom strong suit - are some of the most memorable yet. Exploring Festeron the first time around was fun, despite the time limit hanging over your head, and the return to its wicked nighttime counterpart Witchville was an odd but effective mix of whimsy and horror, made better for the twisted familiarity of your first trip through it.

But its puzzle design isn't the best. All actions taken to finish the game are either completely obvious, or obscure and unmotivated. Nothing indicates that you can buy tickets from Miss Voss, or that a pair of discarded 3D glasses is on the floor of the theater, or that one of the paintings in the gallery can be moved. This is meant as an introductory game, and there are some beginner's guardrails, like explicit warnings on when you should save, and second chances to retrieve lost items, but it's inconsistent. Right away in the first chapter, you have to think to search the fountain at the center of town for a gold coin. This isn't signposted, and you absolutely must have it later on, and if you don't get it before delivering the letter, the one thing you're under strict instructions to do and to do so quickly, you've locked yourself out of victory. By nightfall, it's gone. This seems arbitrarily cruel for a beginner-friendly game!

Then there's Wishbringer itself, whose magic is often mentioned as a means to provide beginners with alternate solutions to difficult puzzles. Hogwash, I say - in retrospect, darkness is the only legitimate example of this, and even that has limitations!

My assessment of the wishes from most to least useful:

  • Darkness - Sneak past certain characters. Notably the troll, but you need to sneak past him anyway long before you raid the grues' refrigerator (this itself a ridiculous puzzle that magic will not help you to solve) for the milk needed to do this. You can also sneak past Violet's dog in darkness, but you'll need to make the return trip the more conventional way.
  • Rain washes the fog away from the dangerous trail, but if you do this, then you've already destroyed the snake-in-a-can joke needed for the troll. And you're locked into the alternate solution of bribing him with the gold coin, then coming back later and wishing for darkness to scare him off, and also wishing for luck so that your coin doesn't fall into the river. It's much easier and obvious enough to just give him the rattlesnake-in-a-can joke and avoid all that nonsense, not to mention the burden you spare your inventory limit from not carrying a bunch of magical crap that you don't need.
  • Luck also delays the ghosts in the cemetery from spiriting you away (they'll steal your things instead and then spirit you away, so just stay out), and delays Violet's dog from killing you (but she still won't let you pass, so you'll need to learn her command anyway).
  • Freedom - which you can't even wish for unless you took the time during your day errand to steal candy from the police station - lets you escape from jail, which is easy enough (and required) to do normally. It can also unshackle you in the torture chamber, but if Mr. Crisp is watching he'll just re-shackle you, and if not then it's trivial to take his key and free yourself.
  • Advice hardly ever tells you anything you didn't already know.
  • Foresight gives you a glimpse of the ending, but this tells you nothing useful.
  • Flight takes you back to the magic shop, but you do not want to do this before finding Chaos, whose magic teleports you there anyway.

Overall I enjoyed Wishbringer, and can certainly recommend it as a gentler, more accessible counterpart to the Enchanter trilogy, but still can't help but feel a little unsatisfied.

My Trizbort map:

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