Review of Zork Nemesis: The Forbidden Lands by Antrax

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Rating by Antrax posted on Oct 22, 2013 | edit | delete

A bit dated

Zork Nemesis is a pretty good Myst clone. However, it also suffers from many of Myst’s problems and the graphics are terribly dated.

I’ve played the DOS version, which had limited saves (always annoying) and panning was too fast even on the slowest setting.
The graphics were okay for most of the game but pretty blocky and dated, combined with a lot of “node hunting” and the lack of hotspot titles it contributed to a fairly unpleasant experience of scanning the ugly environment repeatedly.
One puzzle was borderline impossible due to being incredibly dark - I’ve had to work around it by manually increasing the gamma setting in my graphics driver to an unreasonably high value just so I can tell what I’m pointing at. The game has no real graphics settings.

The game is paced strangely. There are nine “tasks” to accomplish but the first four take 5-10 minutes each and are pretty disappointing. I was sure the game would be over in two hours flat, but the next four tasks were quite deep and considerably longer. Then the ninth is again trivial and the game is over. Go figure.

The main part of the game is quite good. There are four “ages” with themes of their own, they’re large enough to be interesting to explore but small enough that you don’t get lost. Progression is usually linear and the puzzles are shallower than Myst, which can be considered an advantage or not, based on your preference.
Basically, clues are usually found together instead of having to collect them from several places, many clues appear in several different forms and they’re more obviously clues - there aren’t any “this sketch in the margin of the page is actually hugely important” moments. Ages are self-contained and can be played in any order, which is a bit strange seeing as each contains clues to a different part of the plot, some more revealing than others.

The plot itself is adequate. Acting is fair and the FMV quality isn’t an embarrassment.

It’s possible to die (but you’ll see it coming) and there are some dead ends (they’re usually obvious - an item disappears and you just go “huh, now why did I do that”).

Overall, it’s not a bad game. I wish I’d played it when it came out but even today it’s worth the time. I’ve seen much worse Myst clones come out a lot later.

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Time Played: 5-10 hours

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