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Zork +1, April 5, 2010
What can I say? One of my first IFs was Zork I. It wasn't until much later that I found this Dungeon game, and realized that it was a super expanded version of Zork I, like they took all the best parts of Zork I-III and squished them together.
The first thing Zork fans will notice is that the mazes are all mixed up. In fact, were this not floating by on the popularity of Zork, I would give it a much lower review. Directions do not lead in directions that make sense: going south does not lead you to the room you just went north from all the time. In fact, you can go to the North of the house, and keep going north until you (apparantly) go around the world and bump into the south of the house again. Now, presumably the paths are twisting or something, but you really need some kind of reasonable mapping structure.
All the best puzzles are here, and if you played Zork I-III you will know all the answers, because there is nothing new here (except maybe a few puzzles from sorcerer that never made it into Zork I, alas!).
I played the inform translation, and there are some simple irritating errors- the boat doesn't move downstream on its own (you must move DOWN to go downstream...), some of the alternate puzzle solutions aren't presnet (the loud room is an example), and since all the rooms are in different places than you're used to, it can get frustrating.
However, those complaints only matter if you're fluent in Zork I-III. If not, this game is all fresh and new, and none of these complaints matter. What you WILL be concerned with is the light puzzle with a light source that only lasts so long, a npc who randomly comes into rooms and steals or moves things, a carrying capacity limit, a glacier puzzle which I contend does not have a realistic solution, and a trivia questionare at the end that forces you to have found all the little secret things (even ones that you would need out-of-world or hints to even know about) to finish the game.
That being said, this was the first big game since Collossal Cave Adventure, and it was the blueprint for every other game since. It is very small by today's standards, but it was broken up into 3 games originally because it was too big to be contianed on the 5.25" floppies they used to have back in the day.
Don't expect any real story- you're dropped in the world with no explanation to go stealing everything you can. Don't expect to even know what your goal is (though it's putting valuables in a trophy case). And don't expect NPCs to be friendly or even non-hostile (even though sometimes you have to rely on them). Certainly dated in every sense by today's standard- just like Lord of the Rings is dated by Fantasy Literary standards, but it started the genre, and should be played if just to experience the rich history that created Infocom and IF in the first place.