Zork I: The Great Underground Empire DOS front cover

Zork I: The Great Underground Empire

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4.4 /5
West of House. You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here.

Zork I: The Great Underground Empire is an interactive fiction adventure computer game written by Marc Blank, Dave Lebling, Bruce Daniels and Tim Anderson and published by Infocom in 1980. Play Zork I: The Great Underground Empire online!

Zork I: The Great Underground Empire game description

The game takes place in the Zork calendar year 948 GUE (although the passage of time is not notable in gameplay). The player steps into the deliberately vague role of an “adventurer”. The game begins near a White House in a small, self-contained area. Although the player is given little instruction, the house provides an obvious point of interest.

When the player enters the house, it yields a number of intriguing objects: an ancient brass lantern, an empty trophy case, an intricately engraved sword, etc. Beneath the rug a trap door leads down into a dark dungeon. But what initially appears to be a dungeon is actually one of several entrances to a vast subterranean land–the Great Underground Empire. The player soon encounters dangerous creatures, including deadly grues, an axe-wielding troll, a giant cyclops and a nimble-fingered thief.

Zork: The Great Underground Empire is a classic text adventure game. The player begins as an “adventurer” standing near a white house in a nice forest, but soon descends into the Great Underground Empire, where most of the game takes place. The player’s quest is to collect the Nineteen Treasures of Zork.

As was typical for adventure games of its era, Zork does not use graphics. Instead, it communicates with the player via text, and the player interacts with the game by typing commands, such as “examine mailbox” or “take torch”. For movement, the player types in geographical directions (such as “north” or “east” – or just “n” and “e”), and can check what items are being carried with the “inventory” command (or just “i”).

The game was adapted from a larger mainframe version from the late 1970s, and is one of the first examples of its genre.

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