How to Play Zork

By Chris Moore

Updated September 22, 2017

Zork is one of the original computer adventure games. Created by Infocom, it's a text-based game with no graphics; you must rely on your own imagination to picture the adventure as it unfolds. The three original Zork games are available for download on many websites and can still be played on any computer that has a DOS platform. Each game has its own individual objective, but the basics of how to play each game are very similar.

Basic Gameplay

Type in commands on the command line at the bottom of the game's interface and press Enter. Each action will be followed by its result posted in text, followed by a new command line.

Input directions in text to move your character: North, south, east, west, northeast, southwest, up and down. You can use abbreviations like n, s, e, w, ne, sw, u and d.

Get any objects you see laying around by inputting "get" or "take" followed by the object's name. Remember that you have limited inventory space, which varies depending on the size of the items you have.

Save your game at its present state by typing "save," then input a name for the saved game. The program will save the game to a default drive on your computer.

Restore a saved game by typing "restore" and then inputting the name of the saved file; make sure it is to the drive that the game is saved on.


Look over every object you see in the game. Open every door and window that you can, try to enter every passage you can find and take any object you can pick up.

Carry a weapon and a light source with you at all times, like the sword and the brass lantern. Many places in the Zork world are too dark to see in, and you may come across monsters you must fight.

Conserve the lamp's power by turning it off when you know there is light available. The lamp will run out of power if you leave it on too long. It also helps to find other light sources like the torch.

Take any treasures that you find. One of the common factors in Zork is finding valuable treasures and storing them somewhere (like the trophy case in Zork I) and/or possibly using them (like giving them to the demon in Zork II).

Save your game often. A lot of things can kill you in the game, and while your character can die three times before it's game over, one death sets you back by losing points and objects.

Remember as much history and mythology as you can and apply it to the game. Zork frequently uses references to ancient history or mythology and incorporates it in its puzzles (like a cyclops related to the one Odysseus fought).