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Return to Zork was the first graphical game in the Zork series. The player character is a sweepstakes winner who won a trip to the Valley of the Sparrows, which turns out to be a rather depressing place. The PC enters the West Shanbar and hears from the townspeople that the East Shanbar mysteriously disappeared. As in many video games, the PC has to be the one to check it out, and ends up on a magical quest to stop the evil Morpheus from taking over. This game differed from past Zork games as it incorporated full-motion video featuring a number of well-known actors ranging from Jason Hervey of The Wonder Years, to Sam Jones, who played the title role in the 1980 Flash Gordon movie, to A.J. Langer who went on to co-star in My So-Called Life.

Tropes used in Return to Zork include:
  • The Alcoholic: Boos. No, not Booze. Boos. Yes, you read that right.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Rebecca Snoot has one. In fact, you make a recording of his bark to get you past guards later in the game.
  • Chess with Death: The final battle against Morpheus is a game of Survivor, which is somewhat similar to checkers or chess.
  • Drinking Game: "Want some rye, course ya do!" The trick is to get Boos drunker than you are so you can get his keys and go to East Shanbar. The problem is he's so good at drinking he can take four to your one.
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: Part of the secret to winning the drinking game against Boos. Toast him, pour out the rye into the plant, then "drink" the empty cup.
  • Exposition Fairy: The teleorb.
  • Final Exam Boss: About 1/4 of the way into the game, you play "Survivor" with Moodock, the one-armed man in the inn. You play Canuck, who can move to any square. He plays the wizard Tremboyle, who has to move like a knight in chess, and makes a square into a "pit" every time he moves off of it. Canuck's objective is to stop Tremboyle from moving, while Tremboyle's is to make every square but two into pits. At the end of the game, you play Survivor again, except this time it's against Morpheus, and the roles are reversed.
  • Guide Dang It: A trend of Zork games and adventure games in general.
  • Heel Face Turn: Rebecca Snoot punches you in the face and gives you a riddle to solve. She will KILL YOU if you get the riddle wrong, but if you get it right she becomes the nicest lady ever and allows you to steal anything you want from her house.
  • Ho Yay: Moodock and Canuk have this. Moodock speaks very favorably of Canuk and when Molly [Moodock's wife] says, "I don't mean to be malicious but that guy really gave me the creeps. I didn't even know who I was a'talking to when he was around. He was a real nut case," instead of taking his wife's concerns seriously, Moodock tells you to just ignore her. Somewhat bad advice, considering that Canuk is a villainous character who tries to turn you into a duck, causing you to lose the game.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: There is a witch named Witch Itah.
  • Inn of No Return: You will die in Molly's hotel unless you find a way to keep the lights on.
  • The Lost Woods: The forest you visit is very difficult to navigate without the guide.
  • Loophole Abuse: Drop all your items and stand in front of an annoying NPC. Then stab or strike them to kill them. Drop the sword, so then the guardian will come and then take away all your nothing. Meaning that once you're done with an NPC, you can just kill them and see some of the most hilarious death animations (and poses) ever.
  • Magical Incantation: "Yozozzo!"
  • The Many Deaths of You: See the description under "High Octane Nightmare Fuel" on this page.
  • Mayor of a Ghost Town: The mayor of West Shanbar who has no idea what happened to the east side of town.
  • Meaningful Name: Rebecca Snoot.
  • Padding: The swamp maze. Oh god the swamp maze...that thing turned off more computers than the big blackout. It's not a grid maze, you have to use the walking stick on every screen to see if it's safe. The Lost Woods you can at least get by with a guide...this? You will just be annoyed, showing that old-school difficulty is not always a good thing..
  • Punny Name: Witch Itah.
  • Scenery Porn: For the time this game was made, this was Scenery Porn.
  • Sadist Teacher: Failing a pop quiz with Ms. Peepers is punishable by death.
  • Taken for Granite: Several of the NPCs you meet in the game end upn turned to stone by Morpheus. And if you fail the final game with Morpheus, you meet the same fate.
  • Unwinnable by Design: All you have to do is:
    • Put the rats into the box with the mice.
    • Kill someone with your knife or sword. When this happens, a special character will appear on screen and take items from your inventory as punishment, which of course renders the game a dead end as everything has a use.
    • Take the bra box from Pugney before he says you can have it.
    • Lose important items in the incinerator.
    • Perform tasks too far out of order.
    • Accidentally destroying or killing the bonding plant can make the game nearly unwinnable. There is a Guide Dang It way around this but few people know about it.
    • Give the token to the ferry man on the way to Canuk's island (unless you are carrying the whistle).
    • Feed the rotten meat to the vultures without drugging them first.
    • Turn Canuk back into a duck before you get the disc piece from the bottle.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Unlike pretty much every other Infocom adventure game (or most other adventure games in general), killing non-hostile NPCs is neither impossible or immediately punished by death. As a result you can stab to death almost every single NPC in the game. A vigilante guardian spirit will show up and destroy your inventory, rendering the game unwinnable (doubly so if you still needed the dead NPC to do something), but you're still allowed to wander around and do stuff.