The Great Infocom Replay: Zork Ⅲ

It’s been over six months since my last bit of progress on The Great Infocom Replay, but I have not given up. In fact, I’ve put “make progress on the Replay” into my daily practice, so maybe I’ll keep making progress from here on out.

As with the other Zork games, my enjoyment of Zork Ⅲ was affected by the fact that I played it when I was young. Quite a few of the puzzles stuck with me, and it helped me work out an answer quickly in cases where I might have remained stumped for too long. I’m not sure whether I should read anything into this, so I won’t.

I liked the general feel of the game. It was just a bit elegiac, but not pretentiously so. The prose is still (mostly) very spare, which is something I want to try to improve in my next attempt to make a text game. There’s still some good humor, too. The writing is good.

I liked most of the puzzles, too. Most especially, I liked that the game subverts, several times, the idea that The Adventurer in Zork is a murder hobo. Sure, you can kill and steal, but you’ll never become Dungeon Master if you do. The game makes it pretty clear, too, that you’re a horrible person if you act like you did in Zork Ⅰ:

The hooded figure, fatally wounded, slumps to the ground. It gazes up at you once, and you catch a brief glimpse of deep and sorrowful eyes. Before you can react, the figure vanishes in a cloud of fetid vapor.

I’m hoping that I’ll find the Enchanter trilogy to be a good follow-up to the Zork games, because I never played more than a few turns of those, and I’ll be forced to pay more attention to detail and give more thought to solving puzzles.

Of the puzzles in Zork Ⅲ, I think that the Scenic View puzzle and the mirror box may be my favorites. They were interesting, unusual, and solving them made me feel clever. A few of the puzzles were no so great. The cliff puzzle is well known for being annoying: why would you think to just hang around in a room for no reason? You wouldn’t. The Royal Museum puzzle is just great, but how are you supposed to tell that the gold machine moves? Or why would LOOK UNDER SEAT differ from EXAMINE SEAT? It’s these little details that remind you that the Infocom games were still figuring out how to stump the user without annoying the user.

The Dungeon Master was a good ending for the Zork trilogy. I’m not sure whether it’s the best of the three games, but I think that they form a nice set. After feeling sort of let down by Deadline, Zork Ⅲ has me feeling reinvigorated. Next up: Starcross!

Written on September 2, 2013
games   infocom-replay   int-fiction