Zork: Grand Inquisitor
It's Friday Night And It's Channel Four. I'm watching the end of the American sit-com Cybill. The plot of this week's LA-based adventure concerns Cybill and her best friend Maryanne attending a friend's wedding and inadvertently disrupting the event. I've laughed approximately three times during the entire twenty-four minutes it's been on. Not a good sign.
The show ends, the adverts come on and lead us up to the American sit-com Frasier. Five minutes into this latest tale of everyone's favourite Seattle-based radio psychologist and I've already been reduced to a weeping pile of laughter on the floor. A very good sign.
Jump forward several weeks and the adventure game Broken Sword is coming to an end. I've been playing it for approximately three evenings and encountered roughly four really challenging puzzles. Not a good sign. My next assignment for PC is to review Zork: The Grand Inquisitor. The discs are installed and the game begins. Half an hour in and I've already encountered three stunningly designed puzzles. A very good sign.
And your point?
The point is this; be it adventure games or TV comedies, when you have something that is well written and well designed, it shows from the start. ZGI is one such game and, coming so soon after the relative disappointments of Broken Sword 2 and Riven, it shines all the brighter for it.
One of the most notable aspects about the game is how close it actually feels to the original (or 'classic') Zork text adventures. One of my overriding fears for any long running series is when the creative hands are no longer those of the original author(s), that the essential 'magic' will be lost. Look what happened to the Batman movies once they ditched Tim Burton. Fortunately, Laird M. Malamed, Elizabeth Storz, Margaret Stohl and the other designers, artists and programmers behind the game have succeeded in pulling off a Zork adventure that superbly manages to capture the same atmosphere, sense of style and wit and the same feeling of challenge that the original Zorks had in abundance and that the more recent effort of Zork Nemesis didn't manage to achieve.
Although ZTGI may seem to be yet another of these interminable Myst-clones (all glossy graphics and no game), it's as far a cry from the ethereal nonsense of the Mac-loving favourite as Stan Collymore is from an effective strike force. Mainly it's fun. The intro is brilliantly edited and sets the style of the game perfectly, the performances throughout are flawless (including a welcome appearance from The A-Team's Dirk Benedict!) and the puzzles are well designed. Unlike a lot of adventures, you actually have to think about how to solve challenges.
I do have reservations about the control interface. I was never a really big fan of the 360 panoramic control system in Nemesis and I'm still not sure I like it here. Also there isn't really any character interaction to speak of. But because the rest of the game is so well designed you find yourself overlooking these points. Zork: The Grand Inquisitor is a welcome return to form.
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode