How were text adventures meant to be played?

I have recently started playing Zork. I’m a big fan of graphic adventures from around ’90, finished several of them on my own so I think I’m not particularly bad at them, but I’m having little luck with this one.

I think the problem is that I don’t really have the right mindset. I’m going to elaborate somewhat to give you my impression of the game.

I get how I’m supposed to read everything on the screen carefully, especially since the descriptions are really short and seem to be dense with hints. I get how I’m supposed to draw a map while I move around and take notes of items I find and various points of interest. I get how I’m supposed to experiment with the command line and try commands and sentence structures that are not even listed in the manual.

This way I managed to map a fairly complicated maze, and also solve a few simple puzzles like descending into a shaft by

tying a rope to the railing and climbing down on it.

What beats me is this. I looked up a hint which said, to get past Cyclops, I have to

say the word ‘Ulysses’ to him, which makes him dash off in fear.

I’m familiar with Homer’s Odyssey, but this would never have occured to me. Since I couldn’t find any hints that pointed to this, and I’m generally making very slow progress if any, and even the whole point of the game has been kind of vague to me just judging by the story, I’m inclined to think It must be full of these kind of puzzles.

So, to finally turn my rant into a question (:
Do I have the wrong impression of the game? Or are these games just inherently a lot more difficult than graphic adventures of the nineties and I have to be more patient? Or is that Zork is just not the right game to start with (for it’s already full of motifs a beginner like me doesn’t know, or w/e reason..)?


These kinds of games have evolved a great deal since the beginnings, and Zork was one of the very first in the genre. You are doing a great job with your mindset, but Zork is probably not the best game to start with, and despite being a classic breaks many of the “unwritten rules” of being a good text adventure game.

It is generally considered a bad practice for authors of new games in this genre to include riddles such as “Ulysses” in Zork. This is because, even if there are hints in the game that will help solve the riddle, it’s only fun on the first playthrough. It feels like much more of a time-waster than solving even the simplest physical puzzle in the game. It has nothing to do with logic, the basic tenet upon which these games are based.

Zork innovated a lot of things for the text adventure genre, but it’s still one of the first, and because of this it still has its rough edges.

Source : Link , Question Author : xcvii , Answer Author : Invader Skoodge

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