Zork has been a classic in the adventure games genre for over a decade before Zork Nemesis was released in 1996. It started as a text adventure and became a graphical adventure with Return to Zork, the game that came before Zork Nemesis. It introduced me to the realm of adventure games, games similar to Myst with pre-rendered backgrounds and a point-and-click approach to solving puzzles.
Such games actually just consist of a series of puzzles. Some depend on each other, others are independent. Usually, there are several puzzles you can work on simultaneously or else you’d get bored pretty quickly. These are not trivial and most of the time they can’t be solved by trial and error (assuming you don’t have the time to try every combination there is). Instead, you gather clues from books, diaries, letters, paintings… when you see it, it is usually obvious that this represents a clue and should be written down on a piece of paper. Once you found it, you just need to figure out where to use that clue.
what’s the charm of solving puzzles? well, they are wrapped together by a story and in case of Zork Nemesis it’s an interesting one. however, what is in my opinion the biggest appeal is the atmosphere itself. so, turn off the lights, crank up the volume to immerse yourself in the amazing musical score by Mark Morgan and explore.
You are an unnamed adventurer who finds him- or herself at the temple of agrippa. four alchemists are trapped by the Nemesis and it is your task to find out what is going on and how to lift the curse that fell upon the land. Other Zork titles have a fairly weird sense of humor. You either like it or you don’t. Zork Nemesis departed from the rest of the series in that aspect. Whether this is good or bad is debatable, but I like the atmosphere created in Zork Nemesis and how the developers bothered to research references to alchemy throughout our own history and put them in this game.
For the time, Zork Nemesis looked amazing. the video sequences were ok. the acting is fine and the video quality is good – for the time. it is pretty low-res (with scanlines that youtube eliminated) and the window is small. what was really ground-breaking was the 360 degrees view of the pre-rendered backgrounds. in some areas you can also look up and down. pretty cool stuff and I think it still looks decent today.
As mentioned, the music is awesome. The ambient soundtrack of the temple of agrippa or the conservatory allows for total immersion. The puzzles are not as brain melting as in other similar adventures, but also not as easy that you will breeze through them on your first try. I don’t know how I figured it all out back then and luckily I remembered most of the solutions. Maybe my attention span decayed and anything that requires more patience than 20 seconds makes me nervous, but I can see why this genre is not as popular anymore. In fact, games like these would help re-cultivate an attitude among gamers where dedication and a methodical, slow approach is king. i really hate how easy games today are and how you are bombarded with information and stimuli that divide your attention between multiple things simultaneously. who actually reads a book nowadays? and just a book. not a book while TV is on and you check 15 things on your phone or tablet while pretending to read.
even though the game is fairly old, it still runs well on current machines. use the dos version of the game and run it in dosbox or get the whole package from gog.com. enjoy some old school adventuring and brain-teasing puzzles! 🙂
as of now, I will only be able to update my channel infrequently if at all. it just takes too much time that I would like to spend on actually playing stuff and do other things as well. thanks for watching.
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