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Zork One

1 rating: 2.0
A Saturn/PSX adventure game

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Tags: Video Games, Gaming, Psx, Adventure Game
1 review about Zork One

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  • Mar 25, 2011
Zork is one of my favorite game series, which is saying a lot for something that is mostly made of text. It could be likened to a book, if it weren't for the puzzles. What makes Zork so endearing to me is the incredibly detailed lore, which combines a relatively serious setting with humorous situations and characters. The first game in the series, Zork I: The Great Underground Empire, started that tradition with a sense of adventure that permeated the story, and yet some tongue-in-cheek puzzles and a number of oddities. It was also helped by how you could just enter any command and the parser would often answer accordingly.

So how would someone do that on consoles? Using a joypad to play interactive fiction, what is this travesty? And yet it happened, courtesy of Shoeisha.

If you think they just went for a round-about approach, making a point-and-click adventure, you are gravely mistaken. This is an interactive fiction game. It's controlled entirely through text commands. So how does it work? Well, it's quite ingenious. As the description appears on the screen, you can select specific highlighted words, and then combine them through use of prepositions and verbs, selected from a list. It kinda works, thanks to how the japanese language is structured, but sometimes it takes a while to make your command recognized. In any case, you can also write words yourself by selecting single syllabes, although I don't think it's ever required. I tried using the Ulysses trick, but it didn't work. Uhm.

The interface has been completely remade for consoles, but the game itself is exactly the same, from start to end. It was given a fresh coat of paint though, with cyan backgrounds that are quite evocative at times. It makes a weird effect to finally see what the game looks like outside of your imagination. In line with Zork Zero, there are different sidebars depending on your location. There is even a map and compass, although it's not terribly useful. Finally, there is a new soundtrack, which is not particularly memorable but serves the job well. Loading times are bearable, but a bit annoying during scenario transitions.

Zork One is very difficult to play. The language barrier is unsormountably high, since the game is entirely based on text. But this remains your only chance of actually "seeing" the first chapter of the series. That's something not many people have done before. And the Great Underground Empire is a nice place for a vacation anyway.
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