UGO

Review:

Zork: Grand Inquisitor

by ActiVision


Zork is back! After a slight deviation from the Zork theme in the last game to bear the Zork name - Nemesis, the original theme is back in a big way. Not that Nemesis was a bad game - quite the opposite, it was an excellent game. It just wasn't very "Zork-ey". Zork: Grand Inquisitor, the eighth game in the series brings the Zork saga back to it's roots (way back) by providing the humor and familiar themes and locations that Zork lovers have come to appreciate. The folks at ActiVision seem to have taken the criticisms of Nemesis to heart and made up for it in a big way. Everything about this game screams "Zork" and combines it into an excellent and extremely entertaining game.

The Grand Inquisitor has eliminated magic from the realm, replacing it with "technology" (how dare he?). You begin in Port Foozle just as curfew begins, and start your quest to restore magic to the land once again. You'll be aided in your adventure by the Dungeon Master himself, even though he's locked away in a lantern as a disembodied spirit. He's an excellent guide though, and will help you through more than a few jams. In your quest, you'll learn magic, go to Hades, travel through time, visit the historical White House and of course - Flood Control Dam #3. Your main purpose will be to locate three lost artifacts and restore magic to the land.

The Z-Vision game engine is back, and works even better than before. For those unfamiliar with the technology, you move the mouse cursor left or right for a full 360 degree panning effect in your environment. Once you decide which direction you would like to travel in, just click the mouse button and you're off. In that spot, you'll also be able to pan 360 degrees unless you'rein a close-up. Movement is fluid and intuitive. Certain areas give you the additional option of looking up or down, and some objects allow you to zoom in for a closer look. All navigation potential is marked by arrows. Left and right arrows mean you can move that way, straight ahead means you may progress in that direction, up or down look that way, and a lit up cursor means you may interact with an object. A grasping hand appears when you may pick something up. The only problems with this interface exist in certain places where the cursor does not change accordingly. For instance, pick up most objects, and the cursor will still change to a hand even though there's nothing there to pick up anymore. It's not a real problem, just one that could have been fixed easily and wasn't. Sounds in the game are quite well done, the voice acting is excellent for the most part. Zork: Grand Inquisitor features some of the most overblown, overacted performances in the genre. And it's all done on purpose. From the Grand Inquisitor's "I AM the boss of you!" to the Dungeon Master's continuous, silly narrative, Zork: Grand Inquisitor features some of the funniest, hammiest acting in a game. It's wonderful.

The game puzzles range from moderate to extremely difficult, and it's fairly easy to die. Usually you'll see it coming, and know that you're doing something stupid. When you do die (and you will) a black box comes up and you'll see your action translated into text, as if it happened in an old text adventure. A very nice touch. Most of the puzzles make some sort of sense, in a Zork kind of way but sometimes you must take a specific action simply to net you a new spell. It's not a bad tradeoff, and even the most difficult puzzles make some sort of sense. Zork: Grand Inquisitor is truly an excellent game. It brings back all the cherished memories and humor of Zork back to your computer in an entertaining and very funny package. Zork is back - long live the great underground empire.

Graphics 95%
Sounds 90%
Gameplay 97%
Interface 93%
Overall Impression 96%

Bottom Line: An excellent game, an easy contender for best adventure game of the year. The original humor and general "Zorkiness" are back with a vengeance. Puzzles range from moderate to killer. Highly recommended for all but the most novice adventurers.


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