The System Requirements
I am not really sure! There is no mention of these in the manual I have,
nor on the CDROM. Originally an Infocom game, I acquired it many years ago
as a re-release through Activision as one of their Essential Collection.
Again I do not know exactly how old the game is, however, judging by the
grainy graphic quality I would have to say it must be at least a good 7 –
8 years old now. I played the game on a P4, 750 Mhz with Windows ME and
experienced no problems installing or playing.
The age of the game is realized in the graphic quality, which by today’s
standards are found wanting. The graphics are grainy and jittery, but not
all that bad, especially considering the age. The environment is rich and
imaginative and this is not lost through the low-level graphics. The low
quality of the graphics certainly did not put me off, as it was the spirit
and inventiveness of the game which captured my imagination.
The sound is of a reasonably high quality and there is a lot of music
throughout the game which sets the mood for the various locations.
The Game Story
You are an adventurer and, typically, where do you start your Zorkian
adventures ? Standing by a white house of course. You open a mailbox to
find a small Tele-orb and a letter explaining that you have won a trip to
Zork. You are given a very brief explanation of the letter by Rooper and
from this point you are transported to the legendary world (topside).
You arrive in The Valley of Vultures, formerly The Valley of Sparrows, but
it does not take you long to discover that an evil presence has the land
in its malevolent grip. The Road to the South is impassable, simply
impossible to pass, East Shanbar has disappeared, West Shanbar is
practically a ghost town, hellhounds are roaming the countryside and
vultures are patrolling the skies picking on innocent travelers. So what
is your remit? Simple, find out what is going on, track down the source of
the evil, defeat it and liberate Zork!
You achieve the above objective by puzzling your way around a richly
described world of enchantment, danger and wonder. And when I say
“puzzling” I mean with a capital “P”. The puzzling is almost non stop and
the puzzles come in all shapes, sizes and forms, ranging in difficulty and
complexity from the simple and mundane through to the downright illogical
and “need to consult a walk through before my brain explodes and I put my
size 10 boot through the computer screen” variety.
I found the game to be long and difficult, requiring me to take copious
notes for reference and really getting bamboozled in a few instances.
However, the experience was great, I loved this game. The developers gave
you oodles of information and constructed an immersive and imaginative
world, story and history of the game environment. Also, contained within
this abundance of information where lots of clues to help with most
puzzles, though noticeably, I did not find any hints for some of the more
illogical puzzles. There were lots of ways in which to accumulate
information and solve puzzles, through the use of a Dictaphone, which
recorded conversations with the many characters of the game, a camera to
take photos, an automatically updating notebook and through the collection
of a myriad of weird and wonderful inventory items.
As with most Zork offerings (with the notable exception of Nemesis), and
indeed with most games of this era, there is an underlying silliness and
tongue-in-cheek humour. This is not a game that takes itself too
seriously, though it does deliver a rich, wonderful adventure that will
entertain you for many a long night (also frustrate in many instances, but
this adds to an enhanced sense of achievement when you eventually crack
the problem that is holding you up).
Most of the puzzling is practical and hands-on requiring inventory
management and manipulation to achieve a physical result, though there are
a few exceptions where word power comes in handy too, logical and lateral
thinking faculties will certainly get a good work-out as well. There are
also quite a few mazes, but before the groaning starts, these mazes are
not too difficult to navigate as long as you construct meticulous maps. I
also found them quite fun as there was plenty to see, do, discover and
solve within the mazes (and some pretty natty and unusual ways of
navigating them too).
There are a lot of places to visit and characters to meet and the game
rattles on from your actions, opening up new locations and characters and
rarely getting bogged down without there being something to do or see.
I can imagine that this game would be tremendous fun for a cooperative
assault where two or more gaming partners take on the challenge. I am
pretty sure that a lot of Boomers have played this game, and probably a
long time ago now. However, if you have not played Return to Zork and
either have a copy gathering dust on the shelf, or can get a copy, then I
heartily recommend this offering.
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