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Return to Zork!
Most of the early Zork games are now legendary amongst text adventure fans, standing alongside classics like Guild of Thieves, Lurking Horror and Planetfall. However, this addition to the franchise is more like a puzzle adventure in the vein of Myst and while this might be disappointing to some long term fans, there's no denying this is a fine experience. There's a convoluted story here, connected to the Great Underground Empire, their greatest Alchemists and the secret to eternal life, and you take the role of a spy who is sent out to discover the fate of the alchemists after a previous one vanished while in the field. Before long, you'll uncover a terrifying plot involving demons and their ghastly plans, so it's up to you to save the world. This all translates into a first person puzzle adventure, like the aforementioned Myst or its sequel Riven, where you explore various environments, solving logic puzzles and watching the plot unfold via FMV sequences. This one retains some of the humor of previous Zork games but is generally much darker than before, with a very grim feel to it. Despite the changes on display here, this still feels very much like a Zork game, and is well worth a look if you're a fan or not. The visuals are a big draw here, and the environments are lush, well detailed and very atmospheric, with a great sense of foreboding hanging over everything. The puzzles too are generally well implemented into the story but feel weaker than in Myst, being a bit simpler and less imaginative, but despite this fact, this remains an enjoyable adventure.
A different view of the franchise
Eleventh in the Zork game series, Zork Nemesis is a graphical adventure game, released in 1998 for Mac, MS-DOS and Windows 95. In the game, you have no name and are set on a task to investigate some crime (won't spoil...). The game gives a dark, serious atmosphere, and the main plot is chopped into many side plots, all driven to one bit climax of the story. It prides with very complex character developments and vivid portrayal of the surroundings, all show in very good graphics making the playing experience all the more realistic. The puzzles in the story that give you clues what to do next are very well integrated to the story. Some are logic based, and most are inventory based. This Zork game can be interpreted as a dark version of the typical Zork game and while some will frown on the difference and some will welcome the change, both will appreciate the aspect. And those who chose this game as their first Zork game shouldn't compare this game to the rest of the series because Zork Nemesis is the black sheep. But one that is loved and excepted by the family nonetheless.