Zork Zero

by Steve Meretzky

Episode 5 of Zork
Fantasy/Zorkian
1988

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
It's heartbreaking that THIS was the last real Zork., February 13, 2022
by cgasquid (west of house)

Zork Zero, i hate you.

i hate your massively overblown size, mostly full of empty rooms with no purpose. i hate the excessive copy protection, with many promising puzzles (including the game's central puzzle) turning out to be "do you have the documentation" checks.

but the reason why Zork Zero feels like such a cop-out, such a zero-effort mess?

Towers of Hanoi!
fox, chicken, and grain!
Hi-Q!
Nim!
measuring liquid using two vessels!
true and false statements written on doors!
the executioner's paradox!
a freaking rebus!

what in the heck are all of these ancient bewhiskered cliches -- many of them extremely belabored and move-intensive -- doing in a game produced in the twentieth century? let alone in a Zork game, a series known for the cleverness and wry sense of humor in its puzzles?

the worst part is that these old chestnuts make up the game's better puzzles. the original ones, like catching the flies, breaking the couple's curse, and the fungus puzzle, are utterly half-hearted. there's no depth to them; frequently they're mostly just hauling the right objects across the bloated map.

about the only puzzle in this game that felt truly satisfying and Zorkian was breaking the hunger curse. i had to use a variety of objects in weird ways to achieve a completely loopy goal.

but everything else ... this is just a miserable slog of busywork and cliche. i understand making a game this huge is difficult, so there's a temptation to just fill it up with junk so you can boast about the number of puzzles ... but you know, you could just have made the game smaller and actually good.