Zork: Grand Inquisitor
Zork: Grand Inquisitor is a graphic adventure puzzle video game developed and published by Activision in October 1997 for Windows and later released on Macintosh. It is the 12th game in the Zork series, and is set after Zork Nemesis, but before Return to Zork. The game is the last of the second generation of Zork games and is built on the same Z-Vision engine as Zork Nemesis which allows for 360° turning within pre-rendered bitmap "rooms," but also incorporates a lot of full-motion video. In the game's story, Grand Inquisitor Yannick rules with an iron fist and has banned Magic from the world. You play as a vacuum salesman fearing punishment who must revive magic and stop Yannick.
A friend of mine asked me if I'd like to do running commentary during a let's play of this game, so, to better understand the game, I played it through and beat it on 2020-05-28 with a score of 896. I think I had to check for hints about eight times throughout the game. The game had some enjoyable moments, but it hasn't aged very well.
I don't own this game, but I have beaten it.
Best Version: Windows
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The game has some pretty funny dialog, "Your sword's blowing glue!" the death descriptions are often hilarious, and I enjoy the fourth wall breaking.
- There are some good deductive puzzles like the phone in Hades, creating the scroll (although there is a cheat for it), the mirror room, and the math puzzle.
- I like how Charon is listening to music on the job.
- There are a couple pop culture references, including those related to other graphical adventures, like when the Hades guard talks about adventurers looking for red and blue pages (à la Myst), and, naturally, The A-Team.
- Purposely losing at the casino game has a pretty funny result.
- The game engine allows a second player to watch the game through a modem connection and make suggestions to the primary player. Although this was probably hardly ever used, it's still nice that they included it.
- I didn't care for the simple mouse cursor interface and found it to be too constrictive. The visual difference between the active and idle arrow is so minor, I often didn't notice when something was clickable. Also, there were sometimes areas that could be clicked on, but nothing would happen, and also areas where you couldn't click, even though it seemed like you should be able to (like the chest in Dalboz's house.
- The pre-rendered graphics don't look very good. The CGI of the day just wasn't good enough to make the environment look realistic, so all the textures look like they're made of plastic. They artists blended in a lot of digital photos, but they just make the generated stuff look even worse by comparison. The typesetting on curved pages is especially annoying.
- The writing is really hokey. While I'm okay with a little, this one is non-stop.
- Most of the acting is bad. I'm hope the actors were asked to ham it up, because they certainly did! The voice acting (except for Michael McKean), is especially bad.
- Being able to spin around in most rooms is a good idea, and it probably makes the environment feel more realistic, but, without any parallax scrolling, it doesn't look very good. Also, since most of the environment isn't meant to be interacted with, it's quite bare.
- Switching between rendered backgrounds and full-motion video drastically drops the resolution and color depth. While I understand there wasn't much they could do about it at the time, it still looks awful. Also, the videos replay too many times. I know you can skip them by pressing the space bar, but it doesn't work as well when multiple videos are chained together, like when using the underground.
- I felt like I was fighting with the game a lot of the time. For example, I knew I needed to mix the Pop Rocks and cola, but I assumed I needed a cup to hold the cola. There is a cup trophy out of its case, but you can't pick it up! So, I figured I could dump the Mead Light and use the can, but it disappears when you use it. I eventually needed to consult a walk-through only to learn you just put the Pop Rocks under the spout. This seemed like a much less intuitive solution.
- Several of the puzzle solutions are a bit of a stretch like how you use the Obidil spell, opening the lockers, and scaring away the bees. Also, the prison cell block map doesn't appear the have the necessary information to deduce the puzzle without trial and error. Also, the sign to the infinite corridor is hidden awfully well!
- A lot of the dialogue is recorded at different volume levels, so you have to adjust your volume frequently throughout the game. This is especially bad when quiet dialogue plays with loud music.
- A common technique to give adventure games more replay value is to allow puzzles to be solved in multiple ways, but this game doesn't seem to have very much of that. I only noticed two, but then, I didn't get a perfect score either, so maybe I missed some.
- Because of the silliness of the spells, they often don't work. There are several plants that you can't grow, there are a couple purple things you can't turn invisible, etc.
All regions used this art. It's the lantern with a face (I'm assuming Dalboz) in a lens flare. I like the lettering, but the cover is a bit dull.
This is just the cast:
|Grand Inquisitor||Erick Avari|
|Antharia Jack||Dirk Benedict|
|Totemization Inspector||Douglas Carrigan|
|Floyd the Bouncer||Don Gibb|
|Lucy Flathead||Amy Jacobson|
|Inquisition Guard||Oliver Muirhead|
|Old Inquisition Guard, Bartender||Earl Schuman|
|Brog, Sea Captain||Earl Boen|
|Belboz, Perils of Magic Voice||Philip Lewis Clarke|
|Invisible Bridge Guard, Doug||Donovan Freeberg|
|Pop Rocks Warning, Spell Checker||Leigh French|
|Voice of the Inquisition, Bickering Torch||David Lander|
|Dungeon Master (Dalboz)||Michael McKean|
|Fishmarket Lady, Shona||Diane Pershing|
|Marvin the Mythical Goatfish||Roger Rose|
|Hades Beast, House Alarm||Chick Vennera|
|English||Zork: Grand Inquisitor|
|German||Zork: Der Großinquisitor||Zork: Der Grossinquisitor||Zork: The Grand Inquisitor|