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Zork Nemesis (DOS)

Zork Nemesis: The Forbidden Lands DOS
Genre: Adventure
Perspective: 1st-person
Gameplay: Puzzle elements
Setting: Fantasy
Published by: Activision
Developed by: Zombie LLC
Released: 1996
Platform: DOS

Control keys

  • ? (or /) = On-screen hints
  • Ctrl + S = Save
  • Ctrl + R = Restore
  • Ctrl + Q = Quit
  • Ctrl + P = Preferences
  • Spacebar = Allows you to skip the movies


The world of Zork - or rather, the Great Underground Empire - is a surprisingly rich world, filled with idea, soul and meaning. And along with the innumerable beauties of nature and equally innumerable inhabitants, among whom there are knights and wizards, demons and mummies, horror and humor, as well as subtle references to something very modern. And after all, then, in the distant last decades of the 20th century, no one somehow especially thought about the fact that on the small black screen of the monitor in front of him there were only lines of text. True, the word "only" is hardly appropriate here. After all, there was something else - his own imagination, which, having connected, tore off the white veil of letters from the screen and allowed him to personally enjoy all the wealth of Zork.

The tale was not destroyed immediately, but it still happened. In 1993, barbarians and blasphemers committed a terrible crime - literally returning the player to Zork, adding a picture to the game, caused a real ninth wave of harsh criticism and bitter accusations of the crime against fans. Now, from the height of the years passed, we can say that the game, generally speaking, has not become worse - on the contrary, it has started to play not only with internal, but now also with external colors. Several years passed, and the previous experience was repeated - and on a much larger scale and scale: a new part of the epic history of the whole universe, both visually and deeply, is quite capable of competing with the best examples of the quest genre for the coveted crown.

It is hardly possible to tell the history of the world of the Great Underground Empire, not only within the framework of this brief description, but even in general. Let's leave this matter to the devoted fans - or to the reader, since the official chronology is located very close by, carefully compiled by the authors of this masterpiece especially, apparently, for novice "zorkomans". Let's just say that your hero still does not have a name and biography, but his goal now is not just wandering around the world in search of fame and the accumulation of capital, like some orthodox Protestant, but a much more specific and noble goal, and role too. Do you remember the Flatheads dynasty? Here is a spy in the service of Vice-Regent Syovar the Strong was just instructed to find out what is going on in the remote Forbidden Lands. And something is going on there. It’s even very wrong. Four great alchemists, each of whom was the keeper of the secrets of one of the main elements of the universe, suddenly disappeared, and the mission of your nameless alter ego - initially - will just find out their fate, for only such a reckless adventurer-adventurer dared to become Syovar's new spy. However, soon after crossing the border of the Forbidden Lands, the plot clouds will thicken significantly: you will find out that your business will be a duel with the terrible ancient demon Nemesis, who kidnapped the alchemists and placed their bodies in coffins, and their souls in a state of eternal pain. However, with some of their laboratories, they will still be able to help you in the future battle with evil.

I must say that, despite all its objective merits, the flurry of claims for the new part of the series fell much more than on the long-suffering Return to Zork, despite the fact that most of the "professionals" from the staff of specialized publications wrote enthusiastic reviews one after another. They scolded both for "copying Myst" and for "killing valuables" - for which they did not scold. It is difficult to disagree with some of the conclusions. Yes, here is still the same painfully familiar first-person view, "mouse" control, static screens and discrete movement - however, in this game, almost for the first time, the ability to rotate the camera to a full circle (that is, 360 degrees) from a specific point appeared ... Yes, all the same moving the cursor to the edges of the screen to move or look somewhere; if the cursor turns yellow, then you need to pay special attention to the place where it is, and if it takes the form of a skeletal hand, then you can do something with the nearby object or object - move it, for example, turn, pull or push, but not take (as a last resort - take and immediately apply).

Generally speaking, riddles are perhaps the main charm of Zork Nemesis. They are complex, albeit not as complex as in the most "creepy" (in terms of difficulty, of course) samples of the genre, and besides, they are really nontrivial. There are almost no actions with objects, as you might guess, but there is more than enough need to carefully examine something, read and - attention - listen and memorize. In the course of the passage, one will have to remember, in the mouth of one negative hero Charles Dickens, "the good old time" and not that, say, trying to draw with a pencil on the paper lying next to it, the turns of ominous skulls, but even memorize the subtle shades of sounds in order to select them a little later the correct sequence ... Of course, numerous logic puzzles are also present.

However, of course, the graphic component for creating the atmosphere of a "genuine old game" of this kind is equally important - and what you can contemplate in Zork does its job perfectly well. Here, however, again one cannot but agree with the fans - the world of the Forbidden Lands is as gloomy as it is generally possible in a game where they wanted to keep at least some hint of humor. All locations, be it a medieval tower, a huge monastery or a majestic conservatory, seem to physically put pressure on the player with their gloom and despair; what can we say about a psychiatric hospital, which also found a place in this bizarre adventure ... If we add to the "dark style" the presence of rare, but still present "non-childish" moments, such as contemplation of nudity or blood, then the indignation of those accustomed to the ancient, and even completely textual Zork, every fourth line of which was imbued with the spirit of carefree search, you can try to understand. But this game is different. Even empires have to evolve in order not to fall. And there are also videos with live actors, including quite famous in narrow circles and excellently coped with their roles. But this is already the case, by the way.

Whether to play Zork Nemesis or not - let everyone decide for himself. We only have to summarize as briefly as possible: the game is beautiful, but in its own way, with a truly gloomy atmosphere, but with an enticing world; difficult, but not insane; It has little resemblance to the "classic" Zork, but at the same time it may well be regarded as an integral, complete and even very talented and soulfully made work of art. And, probably, it still deserves the attention of a lover of good quests.
Zork Nemesis title