Zorlok: A Text Based Adventure In High School

Text-based adventures have always been a bit of a niche genre of games to me, with a few notable exceptions like your classic Zork in the late seventies. Some other big names come to mind, like Beam Softwares adaptation of The Hobbit in the early eighties, and even I believe it was called Awakened Wolds, a text-based MMO based on Shadowrun. It was mind-boggling to me how it could even work. 

That was probably my last foray into text-based games, around 2005/2006. Cut to this week when I came across Zorlok. A text-based horror game over on itch.io by solo developer Albie. 

Zorlok sees us playing as a player named a demon who has come from hell to visit someone willing to sell their soul. But, unfortunately, things go wrong for you, and you lose your memory. The only thing you remember? You are a demon, bound to this high schooler, Tommy.

Zorlok is an interactive fiction game following the bizarre misadventures of a demon with no memories and the nerdy high schooler they’re bound to serve. Uncover mysteries and cause mayhem in this dark comedy about monsters, found family, personal identity, and the line between good and evil. Inspired by campy horror movies and classic murder mysteries.

Decide if you’re going to try and start fresh or learn who you used to be and take up your old mantle.

Zorlok offers allows you to customize your gender and pronouns. Letting you design your human disguise and gradually unlock your more demonic appearance. Gain the affinity of a hell hound and what animal they disguise themselves as.

Throughout Zorlock, your own alignment will shift, and Tommy’s personality can change as a result of your actions

You’ll have to learn how to tap into your demonic powers and choose which demonic domains are at your command; Fire or Ice, Sight or Spirit, and Corrupting or Shifting.

I love these text adventure games. They allow you to lie all the time and cover your tracks or risk exposing dangerous truths. You can help Tommy in high school or ruin his life. One of my favorite things the developer mentioned is “accidentally set everything on fire.

If you’ve never played a text adventure before, it’s actually a pretty good one. It doesn’t have these obscure puzzles that older titles like Zork are known for. But it is also entirely open, allowing for more complex sentences, not just your simple “Open Door” commands. While Zorlok is mostly a choice-based text adventure this freedom style still works, your actions still affect the story’s outcome and you can slowly see the choices you make affecting the people around you.

The gameplay in a text-based adventure is presented as being relatively simple. Still, I can only imagine the complexity behind the scenes to be able to react to stuff like “Set everything on fire.” That being said, the story in this demo or first part is incomplete. Intentionally, of course, part two is set to release on July 1st. While I don’t want to dive too much into the story here because, in-text adventures, the whole thing is you need to be able to tell a good story to keep us as players engaged. It is a solid start, and I’m actually quite excited to see where it goes with part two. Also, when you check it out, make sure to try on different clothes just to see Tommy’s reactions, which is by far one of my favorite moments.

Zorlok made me want to experience text-based adventures, so I looked for awakened worlds. Then discovered it closed down two years ago in late 2020. So while I wait for the second part of Zorlok to be released between Evil Dead The Game, I’m going to research and find gothic horror-based adventures. I’m excited to explore that genre.

Check out Zorlok over at Itch.io and follow Albie on Twitter. Zorlok can also be played right from the browser, which is always nice.

For more horror, be sure to stay locked into DreadXP and check out all the trailers dropping for the Dread X Collection V!