Zork 1: The Great Underground Empire

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a game by Infocom
Genres: Puzzles & Words, Simulation
Platform: PC (1984)
Editor Rating: 6.5/10, based on 1 review
User Rating: 7.5/10 - 12 votes
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See also: Text Adventure, Games Like Nationstates, Zork
Zork 1: The Great Underground Empire
Zork 1: The Great Underground Empire
Zork 1: The Great Underground Empire

Talk about a blast from the past, Zork 1: The Great Underground Empire is one of the best text-based games of its time. What is really cool about the first game in the Zork series is that it is really a benchmark video game when it comes to storytelling.

Who Am I?

Zork 1 is a game that is very heavily story driven. The character you play as does not actually have a real identity. Instead, you know that you are just an adventurer, an adventurer who is on a quest to get as much treasure and loot as you can. You are exploring dungeons in a very dangerous land. Finding the treasure is not your only goal. You have to also make it out alive and if you can do this you will be the one known as the dungeon master.

It is kind of cheesy stuff, but back in the 80s fantasy movies were a big deal so the story is actually pretty neat. I am sure older gamers will get a wave of nostalgia from the story. Younger gamers who are a little more curious about text-based adventure games will also have some old school fun.

Go East, Pick Up Sword

The way that you play Zork 1: The Great Underground Empire will sound very odd to younger gamers. You do not actually control a sprite on the screen, instead, you do all your actions in the game through typing. This is what a text-based adventure is all about and Zork 1: The Great Underground Empire is actually one of the most advanced games in this genre of its days. You see traditionally in a game like this you would type in stuff like. “go east” “pick up sword” “eat food” unlock door” and so on. Zork though changed things up by requiring the player to be more specific due to the fact it could understand many more verbs. So whereas other games would have you just type “take lamp” Zork is more sophisticated and lets you type “take lamp and place on desk” “swing sword at enemy” and so on.

First Part Of A 3 Part Story

As the name suggests Zork 1: The Great Underground Empire is only the first part of the story. There are two other parts to the Zork saga. Actually, depending on the version you manage to pick up, you could end up with the whole trilogy all wrapped up in one story. I think that the first game is either going to hook you or it is not. The games for me do not really “improve” as the series went on, but as this was more advanced and interactive than other story-based adventures of the day it was not really needed. You have to remember with a game like Zork, your imagination is one of the most important aspects of it.

A game like Zork 1: The Great Underground Empire is kind of hard to recommend to the masses. For an older gamer like me, I find games like this pretty interesting and thought checking it out after all these years was a lot of fun. On the flip side of this though, I can see why this would not be everyone’s cup of tea.



  • One of the best text-based games of its day
  • The start of a huge franchise
  • It tells a very interesting story
  • Makes you be quite specific with what you type
  • Very easy to find online


  • Not for everyone
  • Some might find it frustrating

Download Zork 1: The Great Underground Empire


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

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PC Screenshots

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