Posted by David Tanguay.
First posted on 12 December 1998. Last updated on 12 August 2009.
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Spellbreaker is the most difficult game in the Enchanter trilogy.

Spellbreaker is the concluding chapter of the Enchanter trilogy, a spin-off from the Zork series. After defeating the evil warlock Krill in Enchanter and rescuing the great Belboz the Necromancer from the evil demon Jeearr in Sorcerer, you finally rise through the ranks in the Enchanter's Guild and are now the leader of the Circle of Enchanters. In Spellbreaker, the world is threatened once again by an evil, magical force, and only the skillful use of magic by you can once again uncover and defeat this force.

Magic has not been working properly lately in the land of Quendor. An urgent meeting of the Enchanter's Guild is held to discuss the problem. During the meeting, a shadowy figure appears and turns everybody, except you, into a small animal. A trail of magic cubes is the only clue left behind. You must follow this trail to uncover this evil force and defeat him in an ultimate showdown. Only with his defeat shall the future of magic in this land be saved and the world be spared from a reign of tyranny.

Like Enchanter and Sorcerer, Spellbreaker is a text only adventure game. It uses a solid and flexible text parser that accepts an intuitve subset of English commands. The location descriptions are more verbose than previous games of the series, but they are still easy to read in length. The extra text is used to good effect, describing in details both the atmosphere and the appearance of a location. The action descriptions are also eloquent and verbose. There are many little cute responses to a multitude of strange actions which you may try to perform or things with which you may try to interact. In fact, it is very worthwhile to save the game and go wild every so often just to see the possible responses. In Spellcaster, your trip through the world is quite different from your past travels. In addition to the normal Quendor locations, the cubes take you to several surreal places. Unlike the rather unpopulated areas of the earlier titles in the trilogy, in this game you get to meet several people, monsters, and even some rocks—friendly or otherwise.

The game is written by Dave Lebling who is also the coauthor of Enchanter. It is based on the concept of interactive fiction told through a story interpreter pioneered by Infocom. The Infocom story interpreter is platform independent, and the game themselves are complied for a virtual computer architecture called the Z-Machine. There have been 2 versions of this game released since 1985 using Version 3 of Z-Machine. The last version is dated 1986. The game supports 79 rooms and 60 objects, with a vocabulary of 850 words and 12,472 opcodes. It has been suggested that Spellbreaker is the true prequel to Beyond Zork, thus representing a tie-in back to the Zork series.

As with the previous games in the series, your spell book is your primary means of overcoming the obstacles on your mission. Additionally, magic cubes play an important role as your primary means of traveling. Geographically, Spellbreaker is about the same size as Enchanter and Sorcerer. It is, however, chock full of puzzles. There are very few scenery locations. Most locations have either puzzles or objects you need to solve or take. Most of the puzzles involve the creative casting of spells. There is a little bit of inventory juggling, aside from scrolls and magic cubes, along with a few characters with whom you must talk. All these elements are well integrated into the game world. There are a few puzzles that stick out like a "Rubik's Cube", but at least they are good puzzles. Most of the puzzles (such as octagonal room) are quite difficult. One of the logic puzzle is a variation of a famous mathematical problem. There are several traps for even the expert players, so save often. There are also a few long dead-ends that leave you with a game which cannot be completed. The endgame confrontation requires you to know what is going to happen and what you can or cannot do, without giving you any clues in advance ("resurrection" fallacy).

On the positive side, this game is crowded with both characters and puzzles, making the land of Quendor come alive. The puzzles are interesting and vary greatly in style. On the negative side, there is no focus to your trek through the cubes. You do not find out where you are going and why until the end of the game. I also like to know more about the shadowy figure as I progress through the quest, in order to lend some urgency and direction to the trek through the cubes.

Spellbreaker is clearly the most difficult game in the Enchanter trilogy. Like Sorcerer, the story of Spellbreaker continues to take on a darker tone and mood than Enchanter. Regardless, the quantity and originality of the puzzles more than make up for the few design faults in this sequel. Spellbreaker is a fun journey for the expert adventurers, but it is not a title to be recommended for the novice gamers.

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