It may be an artifact of Adventure, but I do think the reason it sticks around is because it works.
If I were in an unfamiliar building in real life, I’d probably get directions like “turn right, fourth door on the left, up the stairs, then turn right again”. I could follow that easily, and reverse it without any active thought.
But that reversal, for me at least, depends on a lot of deeply-ingrained instincts that don’t work in a text-based game—or even a graphical game that doesn’t give me full, FPS-style navigational control. It would take me at least a few seconds of actively thinking about it to turn that into “turn left, down the stairs, fourth door on the right”. If you’re like me, it probably took you a few seconds to realize that’s wrong: it should be turn left, down the stairs, turn right, fourth door on the left.
By comparison, “west, north, west, up, east” reverses trivially to “west, down, east, south, east”. I can visualize the Trizbort-style grid in my head without any issue.
Landmark-based navigation is all well and good, but in my experience, it’s only really intuitive for very linear maps. Let’s suppose I wanted to modify Adventure’s early game: you go downstream, then into the forest, then toward a clearing. How do you get back to the stream now? Maybe I went south along the stream, west into the forest, north into the clearing, so going east should take me back to the end of the road, but I would have no way of knowing those relative directions until I was close enough to see the road and the building again.
Tl;dr I believe compass-based navigation has stuck around, not because nobody’s ever tried an alternative, but because it makes it less taxing for players to navigate and easier for them to build a mental map. In real life we have various biological systems that make it easy to keep our bearings (e.g. it’s trivial to face the direction we entered a room through even if we’ve done other things since then); the convention of using compass directions is a way of replicating that, even if we don’t always use those absolute directions in real life.