IF Comp ’09 Review: zork, buried chaos

A Zork game! Whee! Except the title doesn’t have any capital letters in it, and somehow I don’t think “bloodbath” has permission to use the Zork name.

I rather suspect that it’s called “Zork” — sorry, “zork” — in order to hearken back to those nostalgic times when IF games were extremely difficult and often frustrating and filled with brazilians of ways to die or put the game in an unwinnable state. Why would someone do this? Because they’ve made a game that is difficult and frustrating and filled with brazilians of ways to die or put the game in an unwinnable state.

“Brazilians” does not need to be capitalized if you’re using it as a number.

Non-spoiler summary: No descriptive text anywhere, often including basic room descriptions. Many bugs. Utterly uninteresting. Appears to be someone’s “I’m learning to use Inform 7” game. Please do not submit your goddamn “I’m learning to use Inform 7” game to the goddamn IF Comp, thank you very much.

Disclaimer and review list. Spoilers follow after this picture of a Zork® wine closure.

You were exploring the underground empire when it began to cave in!

What, all of it?

Welcome to zork, buried chaos.

It’s great to be here, Chuck.

written by bloodbath, sereal number 099518.

I believe this typo means that bloodbath excluded the standard serial number readout that Inform normally supplies automatically, and then manually typed it back in. I have no idea why anyone would do that. I really don’t know what to make of this.

> xyzzy
That’s not a verb I recognise.

Are you fucking kidding me? In a game with “zork” as the first word in the title?

> x me
As good-looking as ever.

-1 point. Something tells me this game isn’t going to do very well.

> open crate
You open the small crate, revealing a map.

> get map
Taken.

> x it
It’s a map of the underground empire.

> read map
There’s nothing written on that.

That there is one useful map, ayup.

big room
You are in a huge room. Souoth is a smaller room and hallways lead east and west.

New rule. Didn’t run spell-check: -1. Any spell-checker in the world would have told you that “souoth” is not a word. There is no excuse.

> push button
You hit the button and the floor collapses! You see stairs leading up.

maze

> up
You can’t go that way.

> e

maze

> s

maze

> w
You can’t go that way.

> e
You can’t go that way.

Fucking lovely. Fortunately, this maze only has four rooms in it, including the exit, which is locked. And there’s no other way out. Which means I get to restart. Glory hallelujah.

A dial is on the wall.

> x dial
It’s a dial that can be turned to numbers between 1 and 10.

> get dial
Taken.

… I don’t think that was supposed to happen. Just for fun, let’s see if it still works. The walkthrough says the combination is 4, though I have no idea how I was meant to know that.

> e

hallway
You are in the small hallway of this building. Exits lead north, east and west.

A chest is against the wall.

> turn dial to 4
With a click, the gray door swings open.

> w

blue room
You are in a blue room. Exits lead east and south, and there’s a glass wall to the north.

A gray door blocks your way south.

> s

treasury
You are in the small treasury. North is the blue room.

A gray door blocks your way south.

Yup, the combination lock still works even though the dial popped off and I’m just turning it in my hand. Also note that the gray door followed me in here.

The platform is collapsing!
You fall onto spikes!
You have died! You wake up in a random room!

huge grid.

You can see a sign here.

What.

Actually, wouldn’t it be great if death really worked that way?
“You have died! You wake up in a random room!”
“Huh. Where am I?”
“This is the upstairs guest bedroom at 3214 West Dutch Elm Street, in Poughkeepsie, New York.”

The sign, it turns out, has directions on it to lead you through another maze with no room descriptions, to a room with neither a description nor an exit.

This game is boring and terrible, and I’m done playing it.

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