Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Zork: Grand Inquisitor

Go To
"I'm Dalboz. Dalboz of Girth. They used to call me the Dungeon Master... at least until I got stuck in this lamp."

Obey! Conform! Abstain! Ignore! Deny! Refrain! Cease! Appease! Shun! Avoid new sensations. Avoid all sensations! Avoid any sensation! Avoid unnecessary pleasantries! Avoid necessary pleasantries! Avoid libation! Avoid fermentation! Avoid all these in combinations. Save often! Floss regularly! Floss meaningfully! Floss athletically! And above all, never forget who is the boss of you. ME! I am the boss of you! I am the boss of you! I am the boss of you!
Mir Yannick, Grand Inquisitor

Zork: Grand Inquisitor is a humorous 3D Point-and-Click Adventure Game, part of the Zork series, combining high quality (for 1997) 3D pictures, slightly lower quality animations, and text to describe the ending and the death scenes.

(Full back-story can be found here, though parts of it conflict with the story in the game.)

About a hundred years before the start of the game, two fellow wizards-in-training, Mir Yannick and Dalboz of Girth became friends. However, while Dalboz was the most powerful and promising wizard in training, Mir was found to suffer from M.D.D. (Magic Deficit Disorder), and flunked out of the school. Consequently, the two friends had a falling out, which culminated in Dalboz accidentally casting an immortality spell on them, and they went their separate ways. Dalboz eventually ascended to become the third Dungeon Master, and retired to a cottage underground and became extremely bored (yet unable to kill himself), while Mir joined the Zorkastrian Seminary and advanced through its ranks. During this time, magic began to decline, aided by Mir's use of the Totemizer, an ancient invention he refurbished, which rather than killing a magical creature or user (and thus allowing their magic to escape back into the environment), it would pulverize them and squish them, sealing them in a tiny token, forever unable to escape without the use of magic.

Dalboz came out of retirement to confront Yannick, but in the ensuing struggle Dalboz was transformed into a lantern (which Mir didn't see), and forgotten about.

With magic on the decline and the world in his hands, Mir Yannick ruled the land with an iron fist, using Totemization for the smallest crimes, and banned all use of magic, instead forcing everyone to rely completely on technology, which had previously just been a supplement to magic. (Zork has a technology level somewhere around World War II, though it can vary wildly. They can harness the power of electricity, and have radio, television, and movies, but lack the technology for cars, planes, or firearms.)

Enter the player, a PermaSuck vacuum salesman from Parts Unknown, who enters Port Foozle moments before curfew, and must find someplace to stay before he's found by Inquisition guards.

This game provides examples of:

  • Aliens in Cardiff: One possible death sequence involves being totemized, tossed through a wormhole, and ending up spending eternity as a piece of litter lying on the side of the Jersey Turnpike.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Stand around after curfew, and you'll be Totemized. Use magic, and you'll be Totemized. Climb into the Totemizer machine and you'll be Totemized. (Also, the penalty for solving a puzzle incorrectly is almost always a gleefully narrated death.)
  • Always Close:
    • Averted when you pour Cola onto Zork Rocks, making them go critical. It takes about a minute to explode, but less than 10 seconds to get rid of them.
    • Played straight with the Flood Control Dam puzzle, as it will always be solved just as Antharia Jack is about to step into the Totemizer.
  • And I Must Scream: The process of totemization traps a creature's soul within a small totem, leaving them fully conscious but unable to move. And yes, it can happen to the player (although the game mercifully spares you the details of the long-term effects except in text form).
  • Antagonist Title: The Grand Inquisitor in the subtitle is the game's antagonist.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Dalboz in the ending. You end up taking over his role as Dungeon Master.
  • Beneath the Earth: Well, it's called the Great Underground Empire for a reason...
  • Big Bad: Mir Yannick, the titular Grand Inquisitor. He's the who's banned magic and is hunting you and the artifacts throughout the game.
  • Big "NO!": This is Dalboz's reaction to some candy getting stuck in an uncooperative vending machine.
  • Black Comedy: Everything involving the Inquisition's iron-fisted rule and totemization, which in most cases would be absolutely terrifying to any normal civilian, but here, it's all played for comedy.
  • Bottomless Pits: You don't die at first, and raise a family with someone else who fell down the bottomless pit. (But it's still a Non-Standard Game Over.)
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Several of the various death descriptions do this. For example, if you enter the well without getting the lantern first, and wait long enough, you hear loud snarling, chomping and then a belch. The game-over text says "You were eaten by a Grue, what was going through your head? A pitch black cave in a Zork game, what did you think was going to happen?"
  • Calvinball: The player can find a rulebook for Double Fanucci in a locker that describes an assortment of bizarre cheating methods. If you cast Kendall on the rules to simplify them, it simply reads "the only way to win is not to play."
  • Canned Orders over Loudspeaker: You encounter this a few times through the game. Drowning out noise with a loudspeaker in Port Foozle is part of the solution to a puzzle.
  • Captain Ersatz: Antharia Jack is an Indiana Jones style character on television, but is quite cowardly in real life.
  • Continuity Nod: This game could be seen as one long nod to all the previous Zork games, even Nemesis.
    • One of the Cosmic Keystones is kept inside the White House.
    • The Coconut of Quendor was also featured in Beyond Zork, as the perfect container for the knowledge of magic during magic's destruction.
    • The Cube of Foundation was the main plot device in the last game in the Enchanter trilogy, Spellbreaker. And many of the spells in the game first appeared in the Enchanter trilogy.
    • Flood Control Dam #3 features in several earlier Zork games.
    • When the player gets Dalboz's alarm system drunk, it says "Want some rye? Course ya do!" This is an oft-repeated line from Return to Zork.
      • The bartender at Port Foozle (in the past) thinks this when Lucy reads his mind.
      • Boos's Mill (where the line originated) is shown as a painting in Dalboz's bedroom.
    • The Inquisition's headquarters is clearly a re-purposed Steppinthrax Monastery from Zork: Nemesis. Even the Underground station where you can get in from refers to it as the Monastery.
      • Scenes from Nemesis appear as images on the pillars puzzle at G.U.E. Tech, and there's a reference to Thaddium on the soda machine (appropriately enough, the time-delayed explosive item shares some similarity with the Irondune breakout puzzle in Nemesis).
    • The flickering and bickering torches at the white house were first seen in Zork Zero.
    • At the end of the game You take over the title of Dungeon Master, which also happened to the protagonist at the end of Zork 3
    • If you climb inside an active Totemizer with it set on "Inquisition Hall" the game states that you lay there in complete boredom for hundreds of years and eventually become Ms. Peeper's paperweight.
  • Control Room Puzzle: Two of them, one at the dam and the other in a prison.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Totemizer.
  • Cosmic Keystone: A Cube of Foundation, the Skull of Yoruk, and the Coconut of Quendor.
  • Cutting the Knot:
    • That cage surrounded by chessboards? All you have to do is smash it with a wooden plank.
    • If you listen carefully to all the instructions on the Hades Shuttle Courtesy Phone, you can figure out which sequence of buttons get a shuttle dispatched. It's a lot easier, however, to just cast Kendall, the "Simplify Instructions" spell.
    • When you face a six-armed invisible guard blocking your way on a rope bridge, you just cut away the bridge, letting him fall to his death. You can then build a new bridge using magic.
    • A puzzle requires you to close all the floodgates at Dam #3 using controls which open or close the gates in patterns. However, this is impossible by just using the controls. You have to alter the pattern using Rezrov, the "Open" spell.
  • Denser and Wackier: Zork games were always a mixture of comedy and fantasy to begin with, but this one really ramps up the "comedy" half of things. This is apparent as soon as you start the game, with non-stop banter from the Inquisition giving rather darkly humorous threats to all dissent.
  • Discard and Draw: Near the end of the game, the Inquisitor confiscates your spellbook and throws you in jail. Shortly after getting it back, Y'Gael gives you a scroll shortly after you escape, reversing the effects of everything in the book.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: There are laws left and right that basically forbid any dissent against the government at all, Nineteen Eighty-Four style, and the laws are written so extensively that you effectively are on a constant tightrope. And no matter how minor it is when you tiptoe even a little bit out of line, you are punished with totemization.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Flickering Torch's flicker and psychological ailment.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Charon, the ferryman to hell, is depicted as a cab driver, wearing a cabbie's hat as jazz music plays on his boat.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Just look at the page quote up there!
  • Exposition Fairy: Since the protagonist is a Heroic Mime, Dalboz provides commentary on everything found in the Underground and gives less-than-subtle hints if the player keeps trying something that will not work.
  • Fascists' Bed Time: Curfew starts seconds after the game begins.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Totemization. It involves you being encased in a little round disc, and still fully conscious but completely unable to move.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Former Trope Namer: It was once called AFGNCAAP, short for "Ageless-Faceless-Gender-Neutral-Culturally-Ambiguous-Adventure-Person".
  • Felony Misdemeanor: See Disproportionate Retribution above. In addition, a more specific case occurs when you have to deliberately lead a character to arrest by making him appear as the perpetrator of a crime for...setting fire to a toy version of Port Foozle's leader.
  • F--: Apparently, Mir Yannick's overall grade at G.U.E. Tech was a Z minus. That's a record, even for this trope.
  • Forgotten Superweapon: Lampshaded, as Dalboz points out a certain spell you've had since the beginning that would be really useful for finishing the game.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": Part of a puzzle to summon Charon and cross into Hades is navigating the phone tree on the "Hades Shuttle Courtesy Phone".
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: Dalboz is quite familiar with the mechanics of the game, especially saving and clicking.
    Dalboz: A token, a slot. But how to put it all together without my "insert-token-into-slot" spell?
  • Global Currency: Zorkmids can be used anywhere in the Underground, provided you can find change from a bill first.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Antharia Jack strips himself down to his heart-print boxers in a game of Strip Grue Fire Water.
  • Groin Attack: Antharia Jack is on the receiving end of one in an early cutscene. What, he didn't expect the guys seeing him to his execution to retaliate when he made a joke and punched one in the face?
  • Hammerspace: The players inventory can hold pretty much anything. Lampshaded by Dalboz when the player puts a large vacuum on a vending machine.
    Dalboz: Just where were you keeping that?
  • Have a Nice Death: Dying, being totemized or otherwise permanently messing up your quest results in a text scroll describing the aftermath of your last action. Falling down a bottomless pit, for example, leads to the computer describing how you fell for so long you died of old age. Here is a video showing all deaths. This also happens when you cast Maxov to complete the game.
  • Hypocrite: After running his entire regime persecuting and stamping down magic in favor of technology, the Grand Inquisitor succumbs to the temptation of the Coconut of Quendor's magic. It does make some sense, however, given that he desperately wanted to learn magic in his youth and did not have the aptitude for it (to put it lightly), and the Coconut of Quendor had tremendous magical power. This gets him killed if you don't cast Maxov. On the other hand things don't go so well for him when you do, either.
  • In Case of X, Break Glass: Early on in the game, there is a glass case with a sword, a map and a hammer that reads 'In Case of Adventure, Break Glass.' You can open the case to take out the hammer, but you cannot remove the sword or the map until you close the case and smash the glass cover with the hammer.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero
    Lucy Flathead: Ahh, the Adventurer's Creed. Steal anything that isn't nailed down, even if it's a federal offence.
  • La Résistance
  • Large Ham: Y'Gael the Enchantress. She tries as hard as she possibly can to sound ridiculously whimsical.
    • Y'Gael is badly out-hammed by the Inquisitor himself, complete with cheese. Also scenery chewing in later cutscenes.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the previous game in the series, the much Darker and Edgier Zork Nemesis.note 
  • Lottery of Doom: In the form of a multiple-choice scratcher ticket that immediately transports your soul to Hell if you choose incorrectly.
  • Methuselah Syndrome: Most of the named characters. Dalboz and Mir Yannick are justified by immortality spells cast on themselves. Lucy might be explained by being the granddaughter of a wizard, and mages are generally long lived in this setting. There's no justification for Antharia Jack, however. Even the supplemental material finds it odd that he's lived so long without aging.
  • Multiarmed And Dangerous: The unmistakable Six-Armed Invisible Bridge Guy.
  • Mythology Gag (dozens of them, all from the Zork and Enchanter games)
  • Not Hyperbole: You can fall into a bottomless pit. You keep falling until you die of old age.
  • Painting the Medium: When playing other characters or impersonating other creatures with magic, your view changes according to how they would see
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: Each time tunnel contains a fragment of Zork's past that only one of the totemized characters can explore fully. Griff can fly, Brog is strong, and Lucy can read minds. That said, there's one time tunnel that you'll have to send more than one totem through in order to get a needed spell.
  • Psychic Powers: Lucy Flathead's telepathy.
  • Reading Your Rights
    Wartle: Go ahead and read him his rights.
    Guinea Pig: (opens tiny book and reads) You have no rights.
  • Retraux: Game Overs are described through classic Zork-style text prompts.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: "Grue Fire Water."
  • Schizo Tech: Thanks to the efforts of the Inquisition to push technology over magic, the medieval fantasy world of Zork is full of assorted other technologies, including computers and a hydroelectric dam.
  • Schmuck Bait: A sign near the entrance to GUE Tech warns the player not to Throck note  the grass. Do it anyway and the grass will eat you.
  • Sharing a Body: The Hades beast, with two heads on one body.
    • After sending the Griff through a Time Tunnel, he'll start to complain about what you're making him do (stealing mail, touching a dragon's tooth, etc.). Is the AFGNCAAP sharing his body, or is it just a case of Breaking the Fourth Wall?.
  • Shout-Out: The Coconut of Quendor is an apparent parody of the Amulet of Yendor, the MacGuffin from Rogue (and subsequently NetHack).
    • Two types of things the Hades beast assumes you're looking for are red pages and blue pages.
    • If you try to gain entrance to the tavern with Griff, you'll occasionally get;
    Floyd: We don't serve your kind here
    Griff: Okay then. I'll just wait out here with the droids.
    • Near the start of the game, there's a computer in Antharia Jack's store showing a screen from the text adventure game Planetfall.
    • In the endgame, an off-screen guard says "Oh my god, they killed Kenny!"
    • The game opens with a black and white newsreel Exposition Dump titled "Propaganda on Parade", mimicking the "News on the March" segment at the beginning of Citizen Kane.
    • If you cast Kendall on the instructions for Double Fanucci found in a student's locker, the result is a single sentence: "The only way to win is not to play."
  • Significant Anagram: The spell for making yourself attractive to other creatures, "Obidil", is an anagram of "libido".
  • Spider-Sense: Dalboz and your glowing sword.
  • Spinning Paper: Shown in the intro.
  • Spoonerism: While approaching a certain monster:
    Dalboz: "Your sword is blowing glue! ...wait, let me try that again."
  • Strip Poker: Or, Strip Rock–Paper–Scissors with fantasy implements instead. You'll need to win a game to get one of the Plot Coupons. Made easier by the character you're controlling at the time being a mindreader.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: "The fastest way to get around in the underground".
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: The previous Inquisitor "Tripped on the rug and accidentally strangled himself".
  • The Many Deaths of You: Lingering in the darkness, poking things armed with swords or Throcking the grass are just a few of the ways to die.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: At one point near the end of the game, Lucy Flathead time travels back to Port Foozle before the Inquisition took over, and ends up playing a game of Strip Grue Fire Water with Antharia Jack. If you lose, Lucy would run out of Jack's house in a panic and hide in a nearby building, where she eventually becomes the unseen fish merchant that you had to take a can of Mead Lite from at the beginning of the game.
  • To Hell and Back: The Underground's Underground stops off in Hades. Since it contains a party member, a scroll and a time tunnel, a lot of return trips are required.
  • Too Dumb to Live: You can climb out of the well at any time, despite Dalboz warning you not to. Doing so gets you arrested, Dalboz confiscated, and you totemized.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: "Sweet Yoruk!" and "Holy Hungus!"
  • Unwinnable by Design: At one point in the game, the Griff gets the Coconut of Quendor from within the mouth of a dragon, but then someone in the dragon's stomach says that he needs a coconut to make a piina colada and tosses you a rope for you to tie to a tooth. If you decide to drop the Coconut of Quendor down the dragon's throat instead to appease the guy, the Griff will comment, "Somehow I don't think that was its intended usage."
  • Violation of Common Sense: There's a door in the Cathedral that's barred from the other side, and cannot be unlocked with Rezrov. The only way through is to hurl yourself into the Totemizer and let it transport you to a storage bin on the other side. It works only if you're sure to deactivate the PermaSeal function on the machine, so that once you're on the other side, you pop out of being a totem. Fail to do that, and you Have a Nice Death.
  • The Voice: We never actually see what Dalboz's human form looks like. It's even lampshaded in-game; when you find his student I.D he explains that he conveniently cast an "Turn embarrassing photo invisible" spell before you came along..
  • What the Hell, Player?: Although most Game Over scenarios come with plenty of warning or are caused by failing a puzzle, a number can only be seen if the player goes out of their way to get themselves killed or Totemized. The Totemizer alone has eight unique fail states, and Dalboz will chew you out in a number of them.
    Dalboz: Of all the choices, you decide to go straight to Hell! What exactly was the thought process involved in that decision?
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Dalboz tries to kill himself in many ways, but cannot because of his immortality spell.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Upon defeating the Six-Armed Invisible Guard, Dalboz will inform you that "You gain 86 experience points and found a healing potion," before realizing that he's not that kind of Dungeon Master.