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Zork I

by Marc Blank and Dave Lebling

Episode 1 of Zork
Zorkian/Cave crawl
1980

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5 star:
(43)
4 star:
(76)
3 star:
(38)
2 star:
(12)
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(4)
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Number of Reviews: 16
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Look. I have yet to find a game as satisfying as 'Zork 1.', May 5, 2019
If you've never played 'Zork 1' before, give it a spin. As for myself, 'Zork 1' is the first interactive fiction game I've ever played. Maybe it isn't the friendliest game for beginners of IF, but I'm personally glad that I began with this clasic masterpiece.

What 'Zork 1' did well, in my opinion, is that it hooked me right away. The opening scene - and this is not a spoiler, it's the start of the game - where the player is placed in front of a mysterious white house is purely brilliant. My brother and I, who I first played this with, would brag to each other via text who made it furthest into the game. It was thrilling to text to him that 'Hey! I made it past the house!' or 'I did it - I killed (Spoiler - click to show)that horrible thief!'

So maybe it was the rivalry I had ongoing with my brother in playing this game that made it so exciting and gratifying to me on my first play, but 'Zork 1' really is clever when it comes to its presentation of exploration and surprise.

Don't miss this one.

I'm grateful for Zork and never want to play it again, May 2, 2019
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)
Yes, Zork was the most important computer game of the early 1980ís. Perhaps even more important than Kingís Quest. "You are standing in an open field, west of a white house," is quite possibly the most well-known line in adventure game history. It laid the foundation for many wonderful things to come. And it was an incredibly impressive, engaging adventure when it was released. But other than nostalgia, it has little going for it after all these years.

A simple treasure hunting expedition can actually be a welcome relief from more story-based games, but Zork breaks so many conventional rules of modern game play that most fans of current interactive fiction would rip it to shreds were it released today. First, thereís the pointless maze (of twisty little passages, all alike). Then thereís the random enemy encounters and random battle elements. There are several ways to lock oneís self from victory without even realizing it, and a few puzzles are so poorly clued (or not clued at all) that it doesnít matter anyway. And all that onto a time limit (due to a finite light source, at least early on), and you have one maddening game.

To be fair, the atmosphere still holds up well after all these years. The parser is impressively strong. And a few of the puzzles are rather ingenious. But I donít have patience any longer for the aforementioned annoyances. Zork used to be a giant, but so many others have piled on top of its shoulders that it has weakened considerably. Still, I would recommend this to those who do have an interest in seeing how computer gaming first exploded in the market.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A classic!, October 19, 2018
I really enjoyed playing through this game again this year (after having played, but not beaten it back in the 1980s). Yes, I understand how the phrase "Zork hates its player" came about, but at least because the tasks are compartmentalized and getting back to where you last were doesn't take more than a few minutes that it doesn't feel like a major setback to blow yourself up when you weren't expecting it. I had fun puzzling through everything (or at least most things, I had to cheat to figure out (Spoiler - click to show)the secrets of the egg) and even making the maps on my own, though I can see how those can become tedious as well.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed myself and look forward to picking up Zork 2 and 3 for the first time ever, soon.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Play it, but don't play it first., December 31, 2017
by lastplaneout (Boone, NC)
It almost goes without saying that the original Zork trilogy is a must-play for most interactive fictions enthusiasts. As someone who is relatively new to the medium/genre, it was gratifying to play through the first part of the trilogy (and then the sequels) after I had experienced some more recent works first. This set me up to have a whole bunch of "Oh, this is where that came from" moments as I played through Zork's underground that would have been lost on me otherwise. The narrative style of the game works really well for me when paired with a sense of vague familiarity.

The modular structure and dubious geometry of the underground may not earn the game points for realism, but I enjoyed mapping the maze-y areas with Trizbort while playing. There was also never a sense of "What do I do next?" at any point, I think due to the clear association of specific rooms with specific puzzles and functions. The puzzles themselves were hard as hell, but gratifying to complete.

While the game is obviously littered with ideas that become genre tropes and conventions later on, there are also some things that I am glad didn't stick. For instance, I never would have completed the meta-parser puzzles (e.g. (Spoiler - click to show)the cyclops and echo puzzles) without using a walkthrough. The (Spoiler - click to show)sceptre puzzle was also maddening, seemingly requiring knowledge of previous games and/or a willingness to brute-force every possible command into the parser.

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Heaven in text form, April 24, 2017
by H. W. Wiliams (Sweden)
One of the finest IF games I've ever played. I remember sitting at my old computer for hours just mapping out this game. If you like massive adventures, then this one's for you.

A nice commercial clean-up of the MIT version, February 3, 2016
Until last week, I had no idea that Infocom games were still available on current platforms. After downloading an iPad app, I had the pleasure of trying my first commercial game after 5 years of free interactive fiction.

The manual and feelies were great, and the parser was very smooth, with great runtime. I missed several of Inform's features, especially when killing enemies. Overall, the game felt thoroughly tested, and a large number of the annoying features of MIT Zork were removed. Examples include a better coal maze, some of the smug writing, and better correlation between exits and etrances of nearby rooms.

I thought at first it was silly to split up the game into three, but having started Zork II, I am really enjoying the expanded versions. Very few of the free games I have played rival this kind of polished game, with Curses! and Anchorhead as my main examples of great gameplay.

0 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Great Game, October 4, 2013
by Bron (Florida)
This is one of the best ones out there

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
What We Talk About When We Talk About Zork, January 21, 2013
by ifailedit (arkansas)
Looking at the back of the 1984 "grey box" release of Infocom's "Zork I," you, a prospective player, are promised that "during your amazing journey, you'íll come face to face with creatures so outlandish, they defy description. And youíll wander through an underground domain so vast, it can offer you new surprises no matter how many times you explore it." What a thing, all those years ago, to be told. We are also, helpfully, told what Interactive Fiction is: "You can talk to the story, typing in full English sentences. And the story talks right back, communicating entirely in vividly descriptive prose." Earlier (1983) promotional packing for the Commodore 64 focuses more on the technical possibilities of "Zork I," and provides a short matrix of what were most certainly impressive possibilities at the time--a vocabulary of "600+ words," "35-40 hrs." of play time, and a "multiple save feature." Players of available "hi-res" adventures like "The Wizard and the Princess," would find the promised vocabulary an incredible offering. The 1983 packing, in itself, is far more communicative than the 1981 "Barbarian Package" released by Personal Software, which came in a plastic bag and featured a heavily-muscled, bare-legged gentleman swinging a sword at a cowering, tan-skinned humanoid creature. This misleading illustration is accompanied by hardly any text at all save the requirements for operating the software: "For Model III BASIC TRS-80 with 32K and One Disk Drive." What one finds, considering the early history of Infocom's promotional material, is a company learning to explain what it is and what its products are. What on earth was this thing? The term "IF" itself had yet to be coined in 1981.

Enter the contemporary reviewer, who most likely has no such difficulties. Instead, many writers understandably take for granted that a reader will know just what IF is, and focus on whether "Zork 1" is a good game and attempt to answer the question of whether or not, as a piece of IF, it "holds up" in comparison to the works of today. "Holding up" is a problematic thing to measure. Certainly, were one able to visit the Globe Theater of Elizabethian times, one could complain that the actor portraying Ophelia is a man, but complaining thus would reveal a lack of understanding. "Zork 1" lacks the "AGAIN" command and many other modern conveniences, but pointing out said absences, while a helpful heads-up to the prospective player, is a misdirection, unless additionally explaining that "Zork's" publisher later invented these conveniences. One would hardly fault Intel for producing the Pentium II before producing the Pentium III.

Whether the modern player can ENJOY "Zork 1," then, is really a question about the player as opposed to one about "Zork." Can one adequately bring to to the GUE an understanding of IF's history? Can one know and marvel at the difference between, as an example, "Zork 1" and Sierra's "The Wizard and the Princess?" Can one, quite simply, accept "Zork 1" on "Zork 1's" terms? If not, players will probably find more rewarding entertainment elsewhere. If so, then there is much to do and enjoy in "Zork 1." The game world is vast, and many puzzles are quite challenging, affording a real sense of satisfaction when solved. Most of them do, that is. Some seemed, even at the time, unfair, especially when considering the fact that the most-readily available hints were, pre-InvisiClues, available via postal mail. Even guessing at the objective of "Zork 1" is difficult at first. The playfulness of the narrator will either amuse or grate, depending on the player's perspective--at times the narrator seems the primary antagonist.

Easily rendering the game unwinnable? Check. Save and restore combat? O mai oui. Guess the verb? Yes indeed. Inventory management? Certainly. One-dimensional NPC's? Present. "Zork" does not speak contemporary IF, in the same way that John Donne did not write in contemporary English. Donne is not for everyone, and neither is "Zork." Recommending "Zork," again, is a question of what interests a reader of IF. It ultimately has nothing to do with "Zork," which is and always will be "Zork"--the first but not best large example of z-code and all that it promises.

Perhaps a compelling piece of meta-IF could be crafted to simulate the experience of an early-eighties player confronting a game that troubles itself to provide responses to commands that do not advance the story, or includes objects as complex as the jewel-encrusted egg. Barring that, the player will have to bring his or her own sense of history to the piece, which may or may not be sufficient motivation to see beyond its now-dated technical and narrative techniques. Not every fan of "Black Ops" likes "Space Invaders," no matter how great an improvement it is, technically, over "Pong." Those who wish to know the giant upon whose shoulders "Anchorhead" stands will enjoy seeing firstand, or at least appreciate, how far IF has come, though one hardly need love "Zork" to love "Anchorhead." Which type of IF reader are you?

I myself still like "Pong," and occasionally see, depicted in hideous, pale blue text, a brief description of that silly white house and its boarded door. I see it in my dreams, all these years later. Five stars.

Again, from the 1984 packaging: "For the first time, youíre more than a passive reader." Does what it says on the tin.

0 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Zork, October 22, 2011
by Riceman
Related reviews: Zork
In this game you explore a very intricate world full of confusing paths and underground tunnels looking for treasure to add to your collection.The list of treasures you are searching for is 20 items long and can only be found through exploring.
Enemies are easy and far in between so after a good 20 minutes of game play It becomes more of a exploring game; But your one light source is not eternal so saving often and then going back to get items using less moves is a must. You'll also find that many of the puzzles in the game are quite challenging.
the downsides are that the movement in certain areas are off, no real story line and most the game is spent trying to find out how to get around quickly.


0 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
AMAZING!!!, September 27, 2011
by Inventorman101
Related reviews: zork, zork 1, 2011
I am thrilled with this game. It is amazing. This is one of my many favorite text-adventures. FIVE STARS!
Note: this review is based on older version of the game.


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