Zork III: The Dungeon Master
Description official descriptions
In the third game of the adventure game series Zork, you are once again a nameless adventurer, only this time you won't travel through a beautiful magical land, but are immediately cast into a deep dungeon. Like in a dream, you hear a mysterious voice telling you that you have passed all the tests but one. When consciousness returns to you, you find yourself on the endless spiral of stairs, with only your trusty lantern near you... will you be able to survive the horrors of the Dungeon?
Like its predecessors, Zork III: The Dungeon Master is a text adventure game. You read descriptions of rooms and then interact with the game by typing commands. As all early Zork games, it is very easy to get stuck in the game, so you'll have to reload several times in order to find the correct way.
Credits (DOS version)
Average score: 75% (based on 10 ratings)
Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 106 ratings with 3 reviews)
(WARNING: This review contains some spoilers.)
Unlike Zork I and II, this part has a very own atmosphere, the game feels more alive and absorbing than the first two parts. It seems to me that Lebling and Blank were somewhat fed up with the players hunting treasures and points. This is no treasure crawl anymore. Instead, you are tested, in so unusual aspects as patience, compassion and humility (yes, years before Ultima IV!). So the usual routine of "kill everything that moves, grab everything that doesn't" doesn't really work here.
I think the designers made a conscious effort of getting the players away from that primitivity that, in the beginning of adventuring, may have been helpful, but which severely limited the genre. Just the fact that there are only a measly 7 points to get, and that, even if you have them all, you're still far from having finished the game.
Zork III also features some wonderful puzzles, like the one in the cave beside the lake, where you can (and have to) visit rooms from Zork I, II and III and even Enchanter, or the lovely time-travel puzzle, or the great Sokoban-style Royal Puzzle. The puzzles are pretty hard, but I found them easier than Zork II, because the whole atmosphere makes you be more in the game than in the previous Zorks.
Hmm... well one thing that I found a bit frustrating and unfair was that earthquake that occurs after some time, and which, if you haven't done this or that by the time, makes the game unsolvable. They should have made it clearer that this earthquake has a profound impact on the cave.
The Bottom Line
This is the most mature all Zork games, and the one that tries to break the usual treasure crawl routine in a very refreshing and challenging way. It also has a a wonderful, dark and intense atmosphere that made it easier to get into the game; the typical Zorkian humor is far more subtle here (but it is there -- hello sailor!).
I liked Zork I very much for its Colossal Cave-inspired nerdiness and its straightforward treasure crawl feel. Zork II was somewhat disappointing, I felt -- it tried to be more than a crawl, by mixing in some untypical elements, but the mix didn't work out so well. Zork III, however, completely reinvents the genre. I felt it very enjoyable from start to finish, and a great ending for a great trilogy.
In fact, for experienced adventure gamers that want to "get into" Zork, I would maybe even recommend this. The logical choice Zork I may be just too "pure crawl" for today's spoiled brats.
DOS · by General Error (4320) · 2011
Within the trilogy, Zork 3 has an atmosphere all its own. No more gardens, unicorns, or nice little houses - the world of the Dungeon Master is black and dead, a place of shadows, mist, and a dark lake... This change makes for a more harrowing, claustrophobic game. There are fewer tasks - only seven points to get, and the first three are easy. The characters you meet are almost all hostile and treacherous, though (perhaps for balance) there is a high dosage of FlatHead humor in places.
Coming from Zork 2, Zork 3 is a place to get stuck. The game is effectively divided into two sections, and in the first you are likely to reach a point of total frustration. The darkness and claustrophobia are great for atmosphere, but annoying after a while - the game really doesn't let up.
The Bottom Line
Infocom has avoided the trap of making an identical sequel, just as they avoided a Zork 1 repeat in The Wizard of Frobozz. Zork 3 is dark, bleak, and very different from its predecessors. Somewhere between Zork 1 and Zork 2 in difficulty, Zork 3 is an excellent and worthy conclusion to the (initial) series.
DOS · by Colin Rowsell (43) · 2002
Don't really remember much about this one, sorry, except what is below.
This game was the first I believe to use a timed event. In this game, an earthquake would occur, which would split a room in half. Cool, but if you were on the wrong side of the split, you would have to reload. If there was one downside to all Infocom games, they allowed you to die easily, or allowed you to find yourself in "dead" spots like this, forcing a re-load.
The Bottom Line
For Zork experts only.
DOS · by Tony Van (2804) · 1999
|MSX: Neither Ireland nor Switzerland..it's...||Trypticon (11013)||Jun 15th, 2012|
As part of the release of Zork Grand Inquisitor, Activision released Zork III as freeware. (Currently the links to download the game are dead at activision.com, but the game is available at numerous fan sites.)
Related Sites +
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High-quality scans of the grey box package and manual of Zork III.
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Brian Hirt.
TRS-80 CoCo added by Slik. Apple II added by Droog. Atari 8-bit added by Kabushi. TRS-80 added by Martin Smith. Browser added by Pseudo_Intellectual. Commodore 16, Plus/4, Amiga, Macintosh added by Terok Nor. Tatung Einstein, Amstrad PCW added by Игги Друге. Amstrad CPC added by LepricahnsGold. CP/M added by vedder. Atari ST, Commodore 64 added by Belboz.
Game added March 1st, 1999. Last modified August 27th, 2023.