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Zork

by Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling

Cave crawl/Zorkian
1979

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Number of Reviews: 5
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1-5 of 5


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A hard game that gets more fun the further you get, July 1, 2015
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 10+ hours
Zork is the most famous adventure game, although it was not the first. This version contains much of the three Infocom Zork games which were developed later.

Zork is a large puzzle-heavy exploration game. It has inventory limits, a timer of sorts (the light in your lamp), and it has several unfair puzzles (depending on the version you play, some important in-game clues can be omitted). The exits in the rooms work in a non-symmetric way, so going north and then south might bring you back to the wrong place.

I found that mapping out the entire game myself was very helpful. Instead of drawing a map, I just made a numbered list in the notes section of Frotz of all the rooms and their exits. That alone let me get much farther than I did 5 years ago.

I used walkthroughs after getting about half of the points, but the version on IFDB contained a fatal bug preventing me from completing the endgame. I found another version online that ran slower but which allowed me to complete the ending.

The game gets better the further you get. The 'hidden' areas are really fun, and I was surprised how huge this game really is. It makes sense that it was split into 5 games later.

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
HUGE Game, Memorable, important in IF history, March 20, 2015
by GameStomper (Vancouver, WA)
Related reviews: zork, infocom, dungeon, 1977, history, huge, treasure hunt, underground, fantasy, maze
ZORK (this mainframe version) is a huge game. I spent maybe five hours just working on the game and making maps before I started to feel stuck. I finally gave in and starting using some hint files (life's too short to not use hint files). It is frustrating to find that you had the right idea - just not the right verb/noun. For example I tried to "eat Eat-Me cake" and apparently my version wanted "eat eatme cake". Yeah, those are the kinds of things that you're glad you used a hint file for!

I spent about 2-3 weeks working my way through the game and putting together a solution & hint file guide. When I was finally finished, I really felt a sense of accomplishment! Not only was there 616 treasure-hunting points to earn, but also an additional 100 point end game. It really is a wonder of its time... and even more interesting knowing that only a small minority of people had access or knowledge about this behemoth growing to the limits of its maximum 1MB file size.

While the individual ZORK games underwent further refinement, and indeed became better games in focus, fun and functionality... it was a real treat to go back to the origins of ZORK. Like many others, ZORK was my introduction to Interactive-Fiction... so it was a heady mix of nostalgia and new discovery. All the major players are here - the Troll, the Thief, the Rainbow Bridge, the Flood Control Dam, etc. It's just bigger and longer than you remember (especially since your memory is likely ZORK I).

It's definitely worth playing, and even more fun if you haven't revisited the old treadworn land of Zork in some time. But from an IF history perspective, this was a milestone in the making. Zork became the killer-app for a number of early computers... and Infocom went on to produce some of the greatest works ever in this genre.
- And it all started here.

BTW, I think the best version is the inform port. It has the most flexibility in the words you can use, with a few added responses and synonyms that are not available in WinGlux and others.

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Ongoing review in progress, September 4, 2013
by WriterBob (Richmond Hill, Ontario)
I'm going to try something a bit different with this review. Many pieces of modern IF are brief and can be completed in less than hour. Zork (the one and only, the original) is much larger, so large that it was broken into three parts to make the Zork Trilogy. (Yes, yes, most people reading this review are intimately familiar with Infocom and it's history, and those who aren't, well the story of one of the most successful early video game companies makes for interesting reading. Please, pardon the digression.)

Where was I?

Oh, right. Zork. It's big; too big for me to play through and write a review in a reasonable amount of time. Besides, I've never completed the game, and I'd like to.

Here's the deal. I plan on writing a brief review of my gaming sessions with Zork. My hope is that I'll be able to provide an in depth look at this, the father of IF. Of course Colossal Cave/Adventure is the grandfather of IF, another early work that I've barely scratched the surface of. But I don't find Colossal Cave nearly as intriguing as Zork. Perhaps it goes to my fascination with Infocom and the story of that company. Perhaps it's because Zork spawned such a large library of games. In any event, my focus is on Zork. Let's dive in...

I'm playing the Inform port of Dungeon - zdungeon.z5. This is based on a relatively early version, "...from the original MDL sources created at MIT, dated 22-JUL-1981," according to Ethan Dicks (U.S. News & Dungeon Report found in-game.) There are many other releases available on this site ported to a variety of different interpreters, the latest that I've come across is a version 3.2b for TADs.

I chose to go with the Inform version for a couple of reasons. First, Inform was inspired by the Infocom ZIL interpreter and designed initially to play the original Infocom games. Second, being an older version, this is probably the closest I can get to the version I played briefly back in the early '80's. Third, this was the only version I found that would work with IFMapper, an intriguing auto-mapping program which attempts to generate a map from a live transcript file generated during game play.

When it comes to mapping, I find it tedious. For some it may add depth to game play experience. For me, it takes me out of the story. Having access to a full map though can lead to spoilers. IFMapper takes the chore of mapping out of my hands while retaining mystery of the adventure.

So I've got Windows Frotz fired up (v. 1.17) with Dungeon loaded, and IFMapper up and running with automap turned on.

Right from the first location, the original Zork is slightly different from Zork I. The original "West of House," description reads:

This is an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.

In the commercial release of Zork I, the player is emphasized more:

You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.

It's a small difference, but not a minor one. With the commercial release, the player is an active part of the environment versus being an external observer. Sure, it may be semantics, but good IF relies on how something is said as much as what is said.

I won't go into the details of where I have gone in this game. As River Song would coyly say, "Spoilers." This is a review, not a walkthrough.

My experience in playing this so far is akin to the feeling I had in reading the early drafts of The Star Wars, the script that laid out the bones of the story that would become The Star Wars Trilogy. This comparison is more than a little apt. Both the first draft of Star Wars and Zork were too large for a single release. Both Star Wars and Zork were split up into trilogies that expanded upon the ideas of the initial versions. Both were incredibly successful for their time.

I'm looking forward to continuing my exploration of the Great Underground Empire. In short, between personal nostalgia and curiosity over how the game unfolds this is one game that I'm eager to keep playing.
Note: this review is based on older version of the game.

0 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
This is awesome, March 10, 2013
I love this game!

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Zork +1, April 5, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)
What can I say? One of my first IFs was Zork I. It wasn't until much later that I found this Dungeon game, and realized that it was a super expanded version of Zork I, like they took all the best parts of Zork I-III and squished them together.

The first thing Zork fans will notice is that the mazes are all mixed up. In fact, were this not floating by on the popularity of Zork, I would give it a much lower review. Directions do not lead in directions that make sense: going south does not lead you to the room you just went north from all the time. In fact, you can go to the North of the house, and keep going north until you (apparantly) go around the world and bump into the south of the house again. Now, presumably the paths are twisting or something, but you really need some kind of reasonable mapping structure.

All the best puzzles are here, and if you played Zork I-III you will know all the answers, because there is nothing new here (except maybe a few puzzles from sorcerer that never made it into Zork I, alas!).

I played the inform translation, and there are some simple irritating errors- the boat doesn't move downstream on its own (you must move DOWN to go downstream...), some of the alternate puzzle solutions aren't presnet (the loud room is an example), and since all the rooms are in different places than you're used to, it can get frustrating.

However, those complaints only matter if you're fluent in Zork I-III. If not, this game is all fresh and new, and none of these complaints matter. What you WILL be concerned with is the light puzzle with a light source that only lasts so long, a npc who randomly comes into rooms and steals or moves things, a carrying capacity limit, a glacier puzzle which I contend does not have a realistic solution, and a trivia questionare at the end that forces you to have found all the little secret things (even ones that you would need out-of-world or hints to even know about) to finish the game.

That being said, this was the first big game since Collossal Cave Adventure, and it was the blueprint for every other game since. It is very small by today's standards, but it was broken up into 3 games originally because it was too big to be contianed on the 5.25" floppies they used to have back in the day.

Don't expect any real story- you're dropped in the world with no explanation to go stealing everything you can. Don't expect to even know what your goal is (though it's putting valuables in a trophy case). And don't expect NPCs to be friendly or even non-hostile (even though sometimes you have to rely on them). Certainly dated in every sense by today's standard- just like Lord of the Rings is dated by Fantasy Literary standards, but it started the genre, and should be played if just to experience the rich history that created Infocom and IF in the first place.


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