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Zork Zero

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Name: Zork Zero
Year: 1988
Publisher: Infocom
Developer: Infocom
Platform: PC
Genre: Adventure
Total rating: 66% - rated 9 times
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Submitter: Swizzle
Added: Aug 21 2004
Warez status: Abandonware

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Game review

Author: Old_gamer
Date: Aug 02 2005 - 20:56
Score: 50 points
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Do you never ask yourselves: `where did it all begin, those pc games?` They began long before computers were invented, with the P&P games; yes the pen and paper games. Someone send you a letter with a partial story, including riddles and puzzles, you reply with the solution, some more storyline and new riddles and puzzles, keeping the story somehow coherent. The storyline could only stay interesting if you and your opponent would make the required effort. It was a manner to stay in contact with relatives and friends living at great distance in a world with almost none transport convenience. Later on there were large literary circles involving hundreds of people, all over the world with a passion for the P&P games. The telegraph also became a utensil used by P&P addicts.

Then the first computers came, soon after their appearance they were connected through telephone lines and dial-up modems. The first PC´s were only able to reproduce text based screens, ideal for P&P games, with an extension to the early D&D games. And that was the beginning of the pc games, resulting in what we have nowadays, flashy graphics and surround sound. They made enormous evolutions in an incredible short time lapse.

This whole explanation brings us to Zork. Zork isn´t a name who came out of the bleu, no; it is an existing expression, meaning `unfinished program´ in hacker´s jargon. The story goes that when it was released the writers wanted to change the name, but it was already known as Zork in pre-releases, finished or not, it would stay known as Zork. And maybe it is a real zork, it became a legend along the early gamers, many, many sequels followed the original. In a world of exploding graphical marvels the little P&P game survived, the last release was in 1997! Release after release, some were real gems, others weren´t, the latter releases were graphical. Zork Zero is some kind special; it is a mixture of pure text and some graphics. If you fully want to enjoy the CGA graphics you will have to startup the game with the /dm switch, but then you must have the zork0.CG1 file in your game folder. Does it make a great difference? Not really, EGA or CGA, look at the screenshots, some are in EGA some others in CGA, the CGA are a bit sharper and easier on the eyes, smoother colors. If you want to try the CGA version look on the Internet, it is easy to find the zork0.cg1 file. Put the file in your gamedir and start up with zorkzero /dm, and here you go, not that difficult isn´t it?

Brings us to the game itself. It gives me a bit of dual feeling, not so rich in humor as the original releases, more sarcastic and sharp on the edges. You die easily in this one, very easily, to give you an example: type `hit megaboz´ after his appearance and you´re dead. That easy. The whole game through you must be careful, save a lot, and more. You will never save enough. Also I don´t believe the game is playable without the manual, you really need this manual, some of the riddles and puzzles are hard to solve. Ever heard of the towers of Hanoi? Yes, those who have kept generations busy to solve, you find them here. Also some chess puzzles, not easy. Again: the Internet will provide this manual easily.

The whole story in short: almost 100 years after the fall of the Great Underground Empire you have to break the curse throw at this Empire by Megaboz. You will have to explore your whole world to find some objects belonging to the Flathead and put them in the cauldron. Sounds easy? But it isn´t, certainly not in a hostile world.

To conclude this review. The gameplay is average, not the best of the Zork series. The first Zork are unbeatable, even if Zork Zero has brought us a mix text-graphics, it doesn´t compete with the originals. Replay ability is great; you can play this game using different ways to achieve your goal: breaking the curse. As long as you don´t expect an easy P&P game, you will have to work to get this game finished, not leaving it as a Zork. For the youngsters: If you want to know how your fathers (grandfathers) were playing: that is the one to try out. You find it a lot harder to complete than a Half-Life or a Doom3. And if you enjoy it, there are lots of P&P and D&D waiting for you. Because I am a very nice person I will give you the best possible hint for this game: input `HINT´ and you will get hints, sometimes they will look as riddles of their own, sometimes they will be useful. You will have to discover the other possible inputs on yourselves, trying out is the word here.

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By Bee_94 - May 31 2015 - 12:11
"It is pitch black. You are likely eaten by a grue."
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By Hanvoof - Aug 23 2006 - 14:43
I never managed to get myself killed as quickly as with this game. I think it was in like six moves.
Never finished it either. I was playing loads of text adventures at the time to try and get the hang of the genre and some others, actually less interesting but seemingly easier drew my attention away from this one.

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