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Publisher: MacPlay    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 233 MHz    RAM: 64 MB

Zork: Grand Inquisitor
February 8, 2002 | Christopher Morin

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The puzzles in Zork are indeed troublesome. Just as many sat dazed for days at the puzzles in Myst; Zork will make even a rocket scientist cry like a baby. I had to keep telling myself to not be too rigid in my thinking. The puzzle at the Flood Gate Control Panel was especially maddening. It is not a pretty sight to see a grown man cry. The ever-chatty Dalboz even expressed his sympathy by observing, “This is frustrating,” in a tone that connoted frustration with my stupidity rather than the difficulty of the puzzle. Okay, Dalboz, get yourself out of that lamp and do it yourself!

The game will help you along the way as Dalboz will give you certain clues and fill you in on the background of various locations. He has a tendency to ramble, and he will reminisce at length when you enter his home or GUE Tech – reliving his old school days. Be sure to have a large cup of coffee or your favorite caffeinated beverage ready before playing the game. Also, be sure to save often. You can die in Zork. Your death will come swiftly, loudly and painfully. Your death will be followed by your score and the opportunity to restore a saved game; hence the need to save often. Here is a hint: never enter a pitch-black area without a light somewhere on your person. Dark areas spell certain death. One of my chief complaints is that, after some rather challenging puzzles, the game is rather short. By that I mean, just when I felt I was getting the hang of it, the game was over.

Another aid along the way is that the gamer is required to collect magic spells and write them in the spell book given to you at the beginning of the game, provided you are not eaten by the Grue first. Each spell is critical to completing each section of the game. The spells have very strange names, so be sure to remember what they do. If you forget, the spell book will appear in your inventory and provide a brief description of each spell. For example, the REZROV spell is handy for opening doors that appear to be locked. Of course, the VORZER spell is handy for keeping doors closed that are better left closed. Of course, in the Zork tradition, each time you use a spell it is accompanied by a chorus singing the name of the spell.

This brings me to the interface. Items you carry are stored in a palette on the top left corner of the screen. The spells available to you are in a palette on the right side. The palette that gives you access to the game’s preferences and the save buttons is in the middle on the top of the screen. Here is where all this description comes together. These palettes hide themselves when not in use; hence they can be challenging for beginner players hunting around for their inventory screen. On my retail copy of the game, the hot key for the inventory screen is the F5 key. Depressing the F5 key caused a significant pause in the game while the screen was loaded with all the inventory items, spell book, etc. I was carrying around – including the vacuum cleaner.

As more areas are opened up, the mode of transportation becomes quicker. There are numerous teleportation stations throughout the underground and the under-underground. There is a map of the underground, if you find it, that you can insert into the teleportation stations. Select your destination and you will be teleported nearly instantaneously.

I found Zork to be very entertaining. Its graphics are not on par with anything released today, but Zork was not meant to be a pixel jewel. Zork is all about the story. For me, it was a welcome trip down memory lane to all those late nights back in the day when I was supposedly writing term papers on my old Commodore128. Those term papers were so hot off the press my professors took to wearing asbestos gloves. If you like killing time with a good puzzle, put down the newspaper crossword puzzle and pick up Zork: Grand Inquisitor. Your only disappointments will be its lackluster graphics and its shortness.

Great fun to play
Challenging puzzles
The adrenaline rush one gets from walking the knife’s edge between victory and totemization
Dirk Benedict is in the game

Lackluster graphics
Choppy video
Relatively short game
Dirk Benedict is in the game

Zork: Grand Inquisitor
Publisher: MacPlay


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