Zork Nemesis: The Forbidden Lands

aka: Zork Nemesis - Les Territoires Interdits, Zork Nemesis: Das Verbotene Land
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Description official descriptions

In the last days of the Great Underground Empire, four of the Empire's greatest Alchemists disappeared into the Forbidden Lands on the day of the Solar Eclipse, supposedly searching for the secret of the Quintessena, the Eternal Life. An imperial spy, Bivotar, was dispatched to locate them. He never returned. Now, the task has fallen onto you.

You soon discover that the Alchemists are dead, slain by a horrible demon known only as the Nemesis. You manage to get on the Nemesis' nerves, and soon find yourself allied with the spirits of the dead Alchemists, attempting to finish their work before the Nemesis can finish you. But all is not as it seems, and as you unravel the secrets of the past through old letters and ghostly flashbacks, you begin to realize the full horror of the events which transpired under the Eclipse all those years ago.

Zork Nemesis: The Forbidden Lands is a graphical first person adventure game in the style of Myst, mixing logic puzzles with live-action FMV sequences which advance the story. The player views each location from a first-person perspective, and can rotate the camera 180 degrees to get a full view of your surroundings.

Like other Zork installments, the game contains humorous elements, but in general its story and atmosphere are darker, including images and themes such as decapitated heads and human sacrifice.

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Credits (Windows version)

51 People · View all

additional dialogue/text
live action sequences director
game design
sound design and mix
production coordinators
asset manager
associate producers
lead tester
script programming
engine programming
[ full credits ]



Average score: 84% (based on 27 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 47 ratings with 4 reviews)

The best puzzle adventure I've played.

The Good
The graphics in this game are excellent. It has a dark, foreboding atmosphere that is only occasionally lightened up by the typical Zorkian sense of humor. I liked the size of this game...each "section" of this game is about as long as some whole games I've played. Puzzles are difficult but logical and are usually well integrated into the storyline.

The Bad
The only thing I would say is that some puzzles were a bit too difficult, but none were impossible for the average adventure gamer.

The Bottom Line
If you are familiar with other Zork games, that will not help you here. While there are many references to the usual Zorkian placenames, objects, and historical events, this game is much darker in tone. The puzzles are challenging, the graphics are wonderful, and the story keeps you interested through to the end. I highly recommend this game!

Windows · by Rodney Mayton (17) · 2001

Challenging and Rewarding Adventure Classic with 2 Endings

The Good
The music and 360 motion in the game was state of the art in 1997. So many adventure games fail to correctly unfold an interesting plot and story at the beginning but Zork Nemesis raises the bar without giving away too much. The game is also 4 mini games in one with different universes using a strange device to transport you there. The game plunges into the world of alchemy in that a fantastic journey will challenge your imagination and wits as you struggle to solve puzzles. There is a hint mechanism built into the game and a dangerous being called the NEMESIS around every corner of the temple. I found the puzzles to be the most interesting of any adventure game to date.

The Bad
The DOS version takes you away from swapping the many CDs used in the original windows version. The thing that really angered me about ZN was the use of the Zork name with about 3% reference to the great underground empire storyline and the lack of humor. This looks like someone pitched a love story game called Nemesis to Activision and it was somehow piggy-backed onto the Zork franchise with little effort. I have not met many people who actually finished this game as the puzzles are quite challenging.

The Bottom Line
You are challenged to solve the murders of four alchemists that are held prisoner in a coffins in a state of torture while exploring an ancient ruined temple. Then there is a love story intertwined along the story line that puts you at odds not knowing who is your friend and who is your enemy. After first finding each of the four elements to revive each alchemist you must travel to four different universes to finally confront the Nemesis at the climax of the game.

DOS · by Pumbaz (94) · 2020

Superb story and atmosphere, somewhat weaker puzzles.

The Good
Superb ambience. Look, feel and soundtrack all come together for a haunting experience. Strong backstory which one discovers piece by piece and retroactively, until the full picture of what happened becomes clear.

When first released, this game got severely bum-rapped by people who claimed that it wasn't Zorky enough. It has very few laughs, and the references to other Zork games could be omitted without fundamentally changing the story. Both are specious complaints. Except for Zork Zero (and later Zork Grand Inquisitor), both very funny and self-referential games, most Zork games are neither funny nor self-referential. Try finding any laughs in Zork II or Zork III, for example. There may be a couple, but that's not what either game is about. Or other Zork universe games, such as Enchanter, or Spellbreaker, neither one a comedy, by any stretch. Even Beyond Zork, once you can get past the idea of a quest for a Coconut, is a fairly straightforward game. As for the references to other Zork games being dispensable, that can equally be said of virtually every other Zork game.

In actuality, in tone and feel, Zork Nemesis is closer in tone and feel to the original Zork 1 than perhaps any other game. Both are basically serious games, with excursions into dark and mysterious territory, that are broken up by bits of dark, wry humor, largely in the form of surreal written messages, and odd mixtures of ancient and modern technology. Zork 1 has better puzzles, but Nemesis has a stronger plot.

The Bad
Most of the puzzles in the game are of the "Find the secret code" variety. A locked door, a machine or some such cannot be used until the code to open or activate it can be found in a book, a note, or some such place. As a result, if you have all the codes written down, you can blitz through the game without having to discover them. It's Hot Lever-Pulling Action, a la Myst, except Zork Nemesis puts it all together ten times better than Myst does.

The Bottom Line
One of the best Zork games. Both a good game and good Zork. For all but hard core hard puzzle solvers.

Windows · by Bizboz (5) · 2004

[ View all 4 player reviews ]


The live-action sequences in Zork Nemesis were directed by Joe Napolitano, who has directed episodes to such tv series as "Quantum Leap", "Northern Exposure", "X-Files", "Chicago Hope", "Ally McBeal", "The Practice" and "Dawson's Creek", among others.

Also, all the main actors of Zork Nemesis have extensive work background in both TV and film. Merle Kennedy (who played Alexandria in the game), for instance, appears in the 2000 film "The Perfect Storm" and Allan Kolman (Sartorius) in the 1995 "Se7en" and 1999 "My Favorite Martian".

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Zork: The Great Underground Empire
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Alan Chan.

Macintosh added by Cyborg.

Additional contributors: Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe, Swordmaster, Jeanne, Zeppin, Barbarian_bros.

Game added December 11th, 1999. Last modified August 25th, 2023.