Zork: The Grand Inquisitor

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Zork: The Grand Inquisitor
Original title Zork: Grand Inquisitor
Studio Activision
Publisher Activision
Senior Developer Margaret Stohl
October 31, 1997
platform Mac OS , Microsoft Windows
Game engine Z-vision
genre Adventure
Subject Fantasy
Game mode Single player
control mouse
medium CD, DVD, download
language English
Age rating
USK released from 12

Zork: The Grand Inquisitor (English title: Zork: Grand Inquisitor ) is an Adventure - Computer game of the US publisher Activision . It was released in 1997 for Microsoft Windows and 2001 for Mac OS .


Zork: Grand Inquisitor takes place in the "Great Underground Empire", the game world of all Zork games. Grand Inquisitor Mir Yannick has established a totalitarian regime in the overworld and banned all magical activity. The unidentified and nameless character, who is only known to work as a vacuum cleaner representative, begins the game in the coastal town of Port Foozle, finds an access to the underworld and meets the former dungeon master Dalboz of Gurth, who takes the player assigned to track down three magical artifacts that could help restore magic in the empire and destroy the Inquisition. In the course of the game, the player not only receives help from Dalboz, but is also gradually accompanied by the dragon handle, the noblewoman Lucy Flathead and the strong, human-like Brog. Griff, Lucy and Brog were "totemized" by Yannick; H. pressed into some kind of oversized pellet so that they can only interact with their environment on a mental level. In certain game scenes, individual companions are transported into the past through time tunnels, where they have their old bodies and special abilities with the help of which tasks must be solved that have an impact on the present. With the help of his four companions, the player can track down the required artifacts and finally defeat Mir Yannick.

Game principle and technology

Zork: Grand Inquisitor is a 1st-person adventure, which means that what happens is shown from the perspective of the player. The camera can be freely rotated on the X-axis. As with the predecessor Zork Nemesis, the Z-vision engine is used, which not only enables the three-dimensional display of the pre-rendered game world but also the integration of FMV scenes in sections of the game screen. It is controlled by a cursor that can be moved freely across the screen , which, when positioned over an object with which an interaction is possible, takes on an alternative form, whereupon a mouse click triggers the interaction. If the cursor is positioned on the right or left edge of the screen, the screen section is shifted in the corresponding direction so that you can look around freely. Movement within the game world is only possible by clicking with the cursor on a preprogrammed output of the respective game scene. The player can pick up items and place them in his inventory, which can be accessed at any time; the objects can be selected and then combined with one another, with the environment or with one of the helpers. The player's companions are, since they were "totemized", also in the inventory and can be used like normal items.

A special feature of the game, which was already used in the previous games, is the integration of FMV scenes into the game world. The intro, the end sequence and some cut scenes are real scenes filmed with actors. Other cutscenes are film snippets that are placed over parts of the computer-generated scenery, so real actors act in front of computer-generated backdrops.

Zork: Grand Inquisitor had an online mode called "Linked Play", in which players could connect to one another via an Activision server and help each other in the game. This mode was technically advanced for the time, but was rarely used.

Zork: Grand Inquisitor has a magic system that is based on the Infocom games Enchanter , Sorcerer and Spellbreaker , which are also played in the Zork universe : spells must be found in the form of parchment scrolls and transcribed into a magic book, from where they are used as inventory items can be. Individual spells are so powerful that they cannot be transferred to the spell book and can only be used once. The humor of the game is based in no small part on the fact that the combination of magic spells and the game environment often solves puzzles that are relevant to the game's progress, but sometimes also has chaotic consequences. The spells that can be used in the game are:

Magic type Magic spell effect
High magic VOXAM Separate the energy of different types of magic.
High magic GOLGATEM Create a bridge over a body of water.
High magic OBIDIL Make the caster attractive to other creatures.
High magic BIRTHDAY Create an illusion of bad weather.
Middle Magic REZROV Open locked or enchanted doors.
Middle Magic KENDALL Simplify instructions.
Middle Magic NARWILE Activate a time tunnel.
Middle Magic YASTARD Send a spiritual being through time.
Deep Magic IGRAM Make purple things invisible.
Deep Magic THROCK Make vegetation grow.
Deep Magic SNAVIG Change your appearance to that of the target creature.
Deep Magic GLORF Untie a knot.

Through magical influence, all spells can also be turned into their opposite, so that the REZROV spell that opens doors, for example, mutates into the VORZER spell that seals doors.

As part of the embedding in the Zork universe, Zork: Great Inquisitor draws on various details of the Zork game world. Some rooms known from previous games can be visited, such as the starting room from Zork I and the Flood Control Dam # 3. Some of the spells used in the game are taken from games in the Enchanter trilogy. The city of Port Foozle could be visited in Zork Zero , the Ethereal Planes of Atrii were the setting in Beyond Zork .

Production notes

Zork: Grand Inquisitor is, after Return to Zork and Zork Nemesis, the third game in the Zork universe that is no longer a text adventure , but instead relies on a graphical representation of the game. It is also the third Zork game that was no longer written and implemented by the original development studio Infocom ; For marketing reasons, the rights holder Activision used the name "Infocom" for the publication of the game. At the time Zork: Grand Inquisitor was released, the Zork series was already 20 years old, making it one of the oldest game series in video game history.

The play figure is unidentified, which is shown in the game satirically exaggerated: The play figure is referred to as "AFGNCAAP", as "Ageless, Faceless, Gender-Neutral, Culturally Ambiguous Adventure Person" (" ageless, faceless, gender-neutral, adventurous person of ambiguous cultural background ”).

Responsible producer of the game was Laird M. Malamed, who later became Vice President of Activision and moved to Oculus VR as COO in 2013 . Programmer Mason Deming later worked for Activision for the Tony Hawk franchise and for Civilization: Call to Power . The game's author, Margaret Stohl , later became a successful writer and published a. a. the fantasy novel Sixteen Moons .

As a "Feelie", a tangible addition to the game packaging, Zork: Grand Inquisitor was a printed chronology of the Zork universe, which enabled the player to classify the game in a fictitious time frame. Zork: Grand Inquisitor has been available as a download since 2011, which is usually accompanied by a digitized version of the chronology.

A total of nine actors worked on Zork: Grand Inquisitor with:

role Surname
Great inquisitor Erick Avari
Antharia Jack Dirk Benedict
Wartle Rip Taylor
Lucy Flathead Amy Jacobson
Inquisition Guard Oliver Muirhead
Old Guard / Bartender Earl Schuman
Y'Gael Jordana Capra
Floyd the Bouncer Don Gibb
Totemization Inspector Douglas Carrigan

The Dungeon Master is voiced by Michael McKean . Marty Ingels, actor in the former US sitcom "I'm Dickens, He's Window", speaks the dragon grip. David Lander, actor from the former US sitcom "Laverne & Shirley", has a cameo as the voice of a speaking torch. The music for the game was composed by Mark Morgan .

As a promotional measure, Activision brought out a text adventure called Zork: The Undiscovered Underground in the run-up to publication . This was written by two authors from the original Zork development studio Infocom, Marc Blank and Michael Berlyn, and programmed in the Inform programming language by interactive fiction author Gerry Kevin Wilson .

Two successor games linked to Zork: Grand Inquisitor in terms of content were planned by Activision, but were never implemented.


publication Rating
Mac OS Windows
Adventure Gamers k. A. 4.5
GameSpot k. A. 8.0
Just Adventure k. A. A.

Adventure Gamers emphasized the story, characters and puzzles positively and only noted a few graphic weaknesses as negative. Overall, the magazine rated Zork: Grand Inquisitor as "one of the all-time greats in the adventure genre". GameSpot stated that the game world was quite small and the game duration was about 15 hours, but it was positive about the game world itself and the puzzles and called the game "one of the most entertaining adventures of the year". JustAdventure praised the high replayability and humor of the game, but criticized some bugs that were only fixed by a later patch and the uselessness of the online mode. In conclusion, the site rated Zork: Grand Inquisitor as "high quality entertainment".

In 1998 Zork: Grand Inquisitor was nominated for the Spotlight Award in the category "Most Innovative Game Design" , but lost to PaRappa the Rapper .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. CreativeCow.net: Oculus VR Appoints Activision SVP Laird Malamed as Chief Operating Officer. Retrieved March 28, 2018 .
  2. PCGamer.com: More Zork from Activision ( Memento October 12, 1997 in the Internet Archive )
  3. a b Review on AdventureGamers.com. Retrieved April 18, 2015 .
  4. a b Review on GameSpot.com. Retrieved April 18, 2015 .
  5. a b Review on JustAdventure.com. Retrieved April 18, 2015 .
  6. GameChoiceAwards.com: 1998 Spotlight Awards. Retrieved November 21, 2017 .