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Zork: The Undiscovered Underground
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Zork: The Undiscovered Underground

by Marc Blank, Michael Berlyn, and G. Kevin Wilson

Part of Zork

(based on 28 ratings)
4 reviews

About the Story

Grubald the Bold, Matchlick the Mighty, Linklaw the Lucky; all of the great Heroes are busy, laid up, contracted or dead. So it is you who gets to explore a never before seen part of the Great Underground Empire, giving you the chance to finally see a Grue by daylight! This game was developed by Activision and released as a prequel to their adventure "Zork: Grand Inquisitor."
[--blurb from The Z-Files Catalogue]

Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: 16
License: Freeware
Development System: Inform 6
Baf's Guide ID: 1360
IFID: ZCODE-16-970828-1185
TUID: 40hswtkhap88gzvn

Editorial Reviews


The mechanics of the collaboration aren't clear--to me, anyway--but it's skillfully done: there are very few slips that I can see 'twixt writing and programming (a room description beginning "As you step through the door...", for example). The game is awash in references to Zorks of old [...]

The main problem is that the whole thing is a little directionless--your initial instruction is to "explore, enjoy yourself, and bring back news," though the objective soon becomes getting out. But you don't plan your escape so much as solve a series of puzzles, the last of which happens to give you a rather unlikely escape route (clued, but not in a way that most would guess). This isn't a huge setback--after all, it's consistent with the "go-wander-around" feel of Zorks I and II--but given that the game never really goes anywhere, plot-wise, it's a little odd to consider this a "teaser."
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As for atmosphere, it really felt like I was in the GUE. The text, puzzles and humour were recognisably Infocom/Zork. The writers would have had to try really hard to ruin the atmosphere since the Zork mythology is so deeply ingrained, the formula so familiar that the player knows what to expect and enters into the spirit of the game immediately.
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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
If you liked Zork: Grand Inquisitor..., April 2, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)

So Infocom (oops, Activision!) has returned to its roots with Zork: The Undiscovered Underground. But the game is more parody of Zork games than a Zork game itself, but therein lies some of its appeal.

For one, you start out with a plastic sword of no antiquity, and a battery powered plastic lantern which totally sucks. Finding a way to get it to stay alight long enough to complete the game is a puzzle in itself.

Basically, you're exploring a new cave on assignment from the Grand Inquisitor himself, because all the other (better) adventurers are busy for one reason or another.

Despite some obvious continuity errors (Spoiler - click to show) Such as a grue with glowing fur! The game is a fun mini-zork, complete with 2 different endings. Expect appearances from the implementors and the grues (which appear much smarter in this one than in any previous installment).

The puzzles aren't extremely difficult, and many of them are at least logical, which is a nice change of pace from the ECHO room of Zork I. (Yes, there was a more practical solution- added well AFTER the fact as the "real" solution did not appear in Dungeon).

Overall, it seemed like the game was made as a commercial for Zork: Grand Inquisitor, but it is nice to see another offical Zork after all these years, even if the years have not been friendly to the GUE.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Zork Lite, October 17, 2007
by Ghalev (Colorado, United States)

This game - released to promote one of Activision's graphic-adventure Zork titles (Grand Inquisitor), is my favorite thing Activision ever did with the Zork rights: tap two of the Infocom implementers to briefly revisit one of my favorite fantasy worlds.

The game is, in every sense, a kind of Zork Lite ... lighter humor, lighter-weight puzzling, quick and small without being trivial, self-referential without being indulgent. The environment is small but more densely-implemented than in the classic games, and the writing is clever and engaging.

It is, in the end, only a little game ... But as far as I'm concerned, it's the real deal. The last true Zork adventure, and one I'm much more likely to replay than any of the original trilogy.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A small nugget of nostalgia by original Infocom implementers, April 26, 2016

Years after Infocom died and Activision was about to put out a graphical Zork game, this parser game was commissioned and then produced by two Infocom writers (Marc Blank of Zork and Mike Berlin of Infidel).

The game is almost pure nostalgia, and fairly short. It compares to Unnkulia One Half, which was similarly a small promo game riffing on older material.

In this game you find an undiscovered part of the Great Underground Empire and explore it. The game is very small, with one big square that has doors leading to three smaller areas, each with 3-5 rooms. There are little models of Zork items, Grue references, and the heads of the two implementers waxing nostalgic. There are references to the IF MUD (essentially an elaborate chat room that was once a multiplayer online parser game) and so on.

If you have nostalgia for infocom, this game could be lots of fun. If you have just barely learned about ibfocom, maybe not so much. The actual games themselves are more fun.

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