Zork Nemesis

From Activision

Brief Description

"You are my only hope," is the last thing you'll hear in the introduction to Zork Nemesis. You have been transported to a land where alchemy is real and many things are not what they seem. You'll need to look and listen careful, sights and sounds are very important in this game.

Turn off the lights, put on some headphones and be prepared to have your mind blown away. This game is beautiful, both in graphics and in sound. You start at the entrance to the temple of Ancients. Explore the Temple to start learning the secrets of the Forbidden Lands and to begin your quest. The game includes notes from the last explorer of the Forbidden Lands, which give you a few clues as to where you are and what is going on. As you play the game, you will be piecing together the story of 4 alchemists, their search for the philosopher's stone and a love story.

The music and sounds are amazing. This comment is from someone who is running the game in DOS mode. The game clearly states that some sounds and animations are only available in Win95 mode. When I started the game, I didn't have Win 95, and I don't feel up to installing the game again (possibly losing the saved games) just to see. But the experience is quite something even in DOS mode, this game is something special.

Also the music and sound effects vary according to what location you are in at the time. I find the music of the Temple of the Ancients to be quite haunting. The sound effects of some of the other places can be scary (the Asylum), or somewhat annoying (Irondune until you stop the war). The storyline behind the game is excellent, it isn't as much a plot-driven game as some, but I felt compelled by the story behind the game.

There are a number of other people in the game, but you never directly interact with any of them. Whenever someone (or scenes from the past) is there, it will be a cut-action scene that you just watch. The acting in the game is quite good, I rather liked Kaine and the voice of Nemesis is just incredible. It gave me the shivers when he unexpectedly starts saying something. Nemesis rather reminds me of Darkness from the movie Legend.

Game play and hints for Zork Nemesis

If you must have a point system in an adventure game, this is the type I prefer. There are a total of 9 points in the game. You get a point for each major puzzle solved. That's it. So you don't have to spend time looking at every item, making sure that you get credit for each. You still can spend the time, and I recommend that you do so, but if you should happen to restore an earlier game, you don't have to keep going back to things you looked at once to ensure that you've got the points from it.

This game requires careful exploration and observation. I find that due to the way the game navigation works, it can sometimes be tricky to travel to certain locations in the game. Also, if you are having a difficult time with a puzzle, it may be that you missed the hint needed. I failed to notice some desk drawers and therefore couldn't solve one puzzle. In particular, there are times when you can look up or down, but they may require some careful examination before you can work out exactly where you can start looking up or down.

Take notes as you go through, or be prepared to use the hint system a lot. For a change, using the hint system doesn't cost you points - I supposed with only 9 points, they couldn't - but I like not having to worry about losing points if you do use the help.

Be warned. One of the places you travel to, the Asylum, has some very gruesome bits. I don't think I've had quite such a creepy feeling since playing with the brains in Frankenstein's lab. This place is much worse than that though.

Don't be afraid to play with things. There are a few places where it might be dangerous (surely you know to save any adventure game when you've made progress?) but most of what is lying around is either useful or adds character to the game. There are very few items that you can carry around with you, and so you won't end up with one of those never ending inventories. There are many books, pictures, and notes to look at. You can never be sure which will give the clues either, so look at it all.

Gripes about the game

It has the bad habit of totally, utterly and completely locking my computer at the point where you can jump from the Temple of the Ancients to one of the other game locations. Since you'll need to travel to four other game locations from this point, this is a major frustration. Once I realised it was consistent on my computer, I always saved before trying the jump.

I find the 360 degree navigation system a bit disconcerting. One moment, you're looking around to see if there is anything interesting on the screen, then you get the cursor too close to one side and you start rotating. The navigation isn't as flexible as that of Under a Killing Moon or The Pandora Directive though. You can look in all directions but you will move to a predefined spot every time.

Sometimes, when you've moved in for a close view of an item, it can be difficult to get the cursor to take you back. This can get very frustrating. I think I was moving my mouse around a bit too quickly some of the time, but looking for how to get the back arrow quickly gets old.

Conclusion for Zork Nemesis

I highly recommend this game for serious adventure players. If you're just starting adventure games, be warned, this one is lovely but pretty tough. It takes a lot of patience and careful observation of your surroundings to win.

Overall, clues to all the puzzles are available. They aren't always easy to find, and it is very *very* easy to miss an item when scrolling around the screen. The game doesn't have pixel perfect puzzles, and arcade sequences aren't present (three of the things most likely to annoy adventure gamers.).

If you loved the original Zork, you may or may not like this game. There is no question that it is quite good for its type, but it is fairly unlike any of the text-based Zork games.

Some final thoughts on Zork Nemesis

I have and started ages ago Return to Zork. The game didn't really catch my attention, and I've never come close to finishing it. This game is so vast an improvement on RTZ that it's hard to believe the difference.

The end of the game is quite satisfying, unlike some games around (Myst being one of the best examples). But it is slightly puzzling, until you find there is an item not far away that cause the end credits to roll. They give proper credits for the actors, and even the artwork that you've seen in the game!

Losing the game at the end isn't so satisfying. A minor insult and then reload or quit. Ah well, they probably didn't worry too much about this bit because it isn't at all difficult at the last to work out what to do. Getting to that stage is another song and story, but your last important act is very self-apparent.