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About the Story
This game takes place in the world of Zork, in and near the twin towns of Pheebor and Borphee, but hundreds of years before the events of the Zork series. You play as a young adventurer who plans to find the treasure of the Demon reputed to be hidden somewhere in the nearby woods.
For your Zork nostalgia dollar, the game both hits and misses, not unlike Star Trek: Enterprise. The hungus, easily my favourite NPC in the game, scores a bullseye by deftly combining humour, plot exposition, and a puzzle into one neat package. Instead of zorkmids, which won't be minted until about 1600 years later, we have zoons, another borrowing from Beyond Zork. There is some clever business with the grues involving how they perceive the world, but I was less happy with the portrayal of grues as a people with a primitive culture, as if they were Morlocks. A more obvious miss is an accidental mention of the Flathead mountains long before there were any Flatheads; the coffee shop and a CD-like disk are anachronistic. Some of the events in Hades might contradict what we think we know about Yoruk, who won't show up for centuries.
-- David Welbourn
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A Zork prequel marked by seemingly-irreversible actions that you discover after the fact are trivial. Most of this strikes me as a high-level design problem, although it's so common it could even be intentional: you are offered many puzzles early on, some of which are insoluble until late in the game - but there's no reason to believe that, and advancing the game is one of those seemingly-irreversible actions that you expect to cut off access to the unsolved puzzles. This problem is confounded by the number of locked scenery objects that are just red herrings - doors and containers abound in room descriptions, and give standard unlocking prompts rather than an assurance that they're outside the scope of the game.
Aside from those red herrings, the implementation is often shallow. Many exits are unmentioned in the room descriptions, not shown on the included map, or both. The room descriptions are brief, but lack the attention to craft that distinguished a lot of the Infocom writing; there are also occasional grammar errors.
Some puzzles are simple, well-cued, and yet feel really clever. Others are from the "read object that tells you what to do; do it". Still others are of the form "make notes and pick up objects at the start of the game so that you can have them in the late game when there's no way to go back for them."
A few pros: Some clever automatic cueing (to supplement the extensive familiar I6 menu-driven help). GUE memorabilia. Large scope (c. 100 rooms). Some of the puzzle design is simple but feels really clever.
My thought: downloading this one is no more irreversible than SPOILER or SPOILER.
Dawn of the Demon on IFDB
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This is version 4 of this page, edited by David Welbourn on 29 October 2019 at 9:12am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item