The Zork Anthology

Adventure 1994 Dos Activision Text based Action Fantasy

Massive collection of classic interactive fiction

If you've ever wanted to get into interactive fiction, attracted by the creative possibilities offered by a game with no visuals and powered only by the reader/player's imagination, then this anthology of some of the genre's best known examples is a great place to start. It pulls together five Zork games plus a bonus of Planetfall, and while the main games do have a few ups and downs in terms of quality, they are all generally very fine indeed. Gameplay across them all is similar, with players reading written descriptions of environments and characters and then exploring the vast worlds using a text-input command system, with various verbs used to carry out actions like picking up and using objects, moving and interacting with other characters. The setting is a bizarre but imaginative sort of fantasy world, with plots that are complex and fascinating, if occasionally a little rambling. There's an odd sense of humour on display as well, which gives the series much of its appeal, something which transfers across to Planetfall as well, which is a more sci-fi take on the genre. Interactive fiction is certainly not for everyone, thanks to the level of player investment that is required and they are definitely not pick-up-and-play material. However, if you are prepared to put the time and effort in, they can be immensely rewarding and the Zork games are stand-outs in this area. The interface is sophisticated and accessible, while the stories and writing are generally of a high standard, and although this package might feel overwhelming, it's well worth a look.

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