Return to Zork Cheats & Cheat Codes for PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and More

The Return to Zork logo

Return to Zork Cheats & Cheat Codes for PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and More

Return to Zork is a 1993 graphic adventure game developed and published by Activision. Return to Zork was the first game in the Zork series that wasn’t a text adventure game. Rather than the text parser, the game featured a point-and-click style gameplay instead. Return to Zork is the last Zork game with the Infocom label. When comparing Return to Zork to other games of the time, it’s quite similar to Myst, a game that came out a few months later. Over the years, Return to Zork has been released on various platforms and consoles, including Macintosh, DOS, PC-FX, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and FM Towns. Now, the game is on Steam, GOG, and can be found online as well.

When Return to Zork came out, it became an immediate commercial hit. The game had a 1.5 million dollar budget and by September 1994, its sales almost doubled. By the end of 1995, the game sold over one million copies. Return to Zork is one of the key successes that helped keep Activision afloat during the early to mid-’90s.

Today, people still love the game. Steam rates Return to Zork an 8 out of 10 and GOG gives it a 4 out of 5. Play Classic Games, where players can play Return to Zork online, rates it a 4.2 out of 5. 94% of Google users who weighed in on the subject claim to like the game. Considering this classic game’s age, its reputation proceeds it. Although critics did scrutinize the game’s flaws at the time of release, none of the negatives outweighed the spectacular and lasting reception.

Return to Zork Premise

Return to Zork is the first non-text adventure game in the Zork series. Instead of a text adventure, the game takes place in a first-person perspective and tells its story through a mixture of (at the time) high-quality graphics and video-captured actors. For the time, Return to Zork was extremely advanced. Its interface allowed players to interact with most objects in the world and featured non-player characters scattered throughout the game that the player could talk to. There were many ways to play Return to Zork. Even Myst, which has an extremely similar gameplay style, did not have Return to Zork’s functionality. This game offers early renditions of the player’s choice impacting the game. There are several ways to finish the game and there are multiple outcomes for different characters and scenarios throughout the story.

Set in the year 1647 GUE, Return to Zork is the latest timeline in the entire Zork series. The protagonist and playable character wins a sweepstakes prize that features a paid-for vacation to the Valley of the Sparrows. This sounds like the prize of a lifetime, but upon arrival, the protagonist realizes that things are not as lovely as they seem. The lands have fallen on dark times and some sort of evil rots the land. The Valley of the Sparrows is dying and decaying and the world falls into uncontrolled chaos. Strange happenings keep occurring, like entire structures disappearing in the blink of an eye.

The valley constantly battles bloodthirsty vultures and the people who live there are plagued with living nightmares. An eerie, shadow-like being known as Morphius terrorizes the people of the valley in their dreams, causing them paranoia. Many become reclusive, unwilling to leave their homes. The protagonist has no choice but the navigate the dangerous valley, searching for any way to put a stop to the curse that grips the land.

Return to Zork Main Characters

Return to Zork opening narrator

©Campion pe Sate / Activision – License

Return to Zork features several non-player characters that appear and can be interacted with throughout the game. That said, the game is told through a first-person perspective that puts the player in the protagonist’s shoes. The player character and the antagonist are the most important characters throughout Return to Zork.

  • The Sweepstakes Winner: The Sweepstakes Winner is the playable character and main protagonist of Return to Zork. The player plays the entire game through the eyes of this character. Since the game is in first-person, the player has no idea what the Sweepstakes Winner looks like. This allows the player to imprint on the protagonist and makes them feel like they’re truly stepping into the game. The Sweepstakes Winner’s backstory doesn’t have much context. The game suggests that this character isn’t the first Sweepstakes Winner. Allegedly, four other winners have gone to the Valley of Sparrows to meet the lighthouse keeper. No one hears from them again. The Sweepstakes Winner wins a trip to the Valley of Sparrows, like their predecessors, and must face the horrors that await them there.
  • Morphius: Morphius is the main antagonist of Return to Zork and in his most basic form, he’s a cluster of evil magic particles coming together to form clusters of illumynite. Illumynite is a magical mineral that glows brightly and loses its illumination in the sunlight. The cluster of illumynite that makes up Morphius never lost its glow, though. The illumynite cluster (known as the Cluster) mutates into an evil being of magic called Morphius. Morphius is capable of invading dreams and turning them into horrid night terrors. To get what he wants, Morphius starts controlling the vultures in the Valley of Sparrows. These vultures kidnap people so Morphius can enslave them and force them to build his underground city or mine more illumynite for him.

Zork Titles in the Series

The original Zork title began development in 1977 and was released in 1980. Between 1980 – 1997, the Zork series went through many stories and iterations. The games started as text adventure games but were eventually upgraded to graphical games.

The Original Zork Trilogy:

  • Zork I: The Great Underground Empire (1980, Infocom)
  • Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz (1981, Infocom)
  • Zork III: The Dungeon Master (1982, Infocom)

The Enchanter Trilogy:

  • Enchanter (1983, Infocom)
  • Sorcerer (1984, Infocom)
  • Spellbreaker (1985, Infocom)

Other Zork Text Adventure Games:

  • Wishbringer (1985, Infocom)
  • Zork Quest: Assault on Egreth Castle (1988, Infocom)
  • Zork Quest: The Crystal of Doom (1989, Infocom)
  • Beyond Zork: The Coconut of Quendor (1987, Infocom)
  • Zork Zero: The Revenge of Megaboz (1988, Infocom, text with some graphics)
  • Starcross (1982, Infocom)
  • The Lurking Horror (1987, Infocom)

Graphical Zork Games:

  • Return to Zork (1993, Infocom/Activision)
  • Zork: Nemesis (1996, Activision)
  • Zork: Grand Inquisitor (1997, Activision)
    • Zork: The Undiscovered Underground (1997, Activision) – Released to promote Zork: Grand Inquisitor.

Return to Zork Cheats & Exploits

Return to Zork gameplay

©Campion pe Sate / Activision – License

Return to Zork is more or less a point-and-click game. Players can interact with most items and people in the world, search for clues, solve puzzles, and so on. However, since the game features point-and-click gameplay, there’s not much a player can do to cheese the system so to speak. The gameplay is straightforward, meaning there isn’t a way to meaningful cheat. There are no cheats or cheat codes that will make the gameplay or navigating the world easier. There aren’t many exploits either. Walkthroughs are helpful, but looking them up usually spoils the game.

Tricking the Guardian Exploit

Although the game doesn’t have any secret codes or cheats that can make the gameplay easier, there is a simple exploit that players can take advantage of. In Return to Zork, a character known as the Guardian will pursue the Sweepstakes Winner and confiscate their inventory if they do something wrong. This includes things like killing non-player characters and other bad actions. There is a way to get around this consequence though.

The Guardian only shows up once the player tries to flee the scene of the crime. This means that if they drop their inventory before the deed or before trying to run, they won’t have anything for the Guardian to take. This allows players to even drop the items they used to carry out their evil deeds before running away. After the Guardian comes to collect the player’s empty inventory, the player can return to the area where they dropped their items and retrieve them.

There are a few things to be aware of when taking advantage of this exploit. Don’t do it near Rebecca. While in her area, for some reason, some or all of the player’s items might disappear before they can retrieve them. Killing off characters is also a risky gamble. Players need some of the non-player characters to beat the game. If the player decides to kill off an important NPC, they may never be able to finish the game.

Return to Zork Cheats FAQ

Most of the FAQs that pop up when Googling “Return to Zork” and “Return to Zork cheats” are about the Zork franchise as a whole, not this specific game. Since there aren’t many relevant results, this guide will cover how long it takes to beat the game.

How long to beat Return to Zork?

According to HowLongToBeat.com, Return to Zork’s main story takes about six and a half hours. The main and side quests will take around 11 hours. If players want to do everything the game has to offer, they’re looking at about 18 and a half hours of total playtime.

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