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Zork Nemesis: The Forbidden Lands (Windows)

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Written by  :  Bizboz (6)
Written on  :  Jul 06, 2004
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

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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.