Zork Nemesis: The Forbidden Lands is the continuation of the long-running Zork series and is the first entry to not carry the Infocom
name, published by Activision
in 1996. The game displays a much darker tone than its predecessors.
The game begins with your arrival at the Temple of Agrippa, charged with finding four alchemists. You discover the alchemists are trapped in cases, each one begging you for help. It seems that someone referred to as Nemesis has captured them and keeps them in a state of unceasing agony. The elements Earth, Fire, Water, and Air have been taken from The Forbidden Lands, and it is now your goal to retrieve all four, restore the balance, set the alchemists free, and end the Nemesis' terror.
As you go about your task, you learn more about each character's past, and slowly realize something about this whole situation is a bit off...
You control your character's movements with the mouse, clicking to move forward, to access menus, and to interact with the world and the objects that reside within it. The game also has a 360 degree pan, allowing you to look around by moving your mouse around.
The focus of the gameplay revolves around solving puzzles that let you create/retrieve an important object, or allow you to access areas closed off. These puzzles range in difficulty from extremely simple to devilishly difficult. One puzzle requires you to decapitate a corpse and attach the head to a device that allows you to hear it speak. Another involves strategically commanding an army so you can access a tank.
You explore five enviornments in total, with the Temple of Agrippa as your hub world
. To gain access to the other four worlds, you have to solve a puzzles in the Temple to get the device you use for transportation up and running. At the end of each world, the element you retrieve or create will be inserted into its' hole in the stone dais, and you will be returned to the Temple. Once you have all four elements in place, you will have a final confrontation of sorts in the Temple (Though who or what you're confronting is something you'll have to find out on your own).
While newcomers to the Zork franchise found the game to be very enjoyable, die-hard fans were annoyed that it had taken a much darker tone than the previous entries carried (though Zork Nemesis has some bits of humor in it, it's all what you would usually find in a dark comedy). Despite the outcry from the Zork fanbase, critics generally liked the game, with GameSpot calling it "a slick, enticing game experience"
The game was recently re-released on GOG.com, available for $5.99 USD. The release is DRM-free, and includes digital downloads of the manual, journal and map.