Saturday, April 13, 2013
In the meantime, I have been playing other games not listed on the backlog list including Bioshock: Infinite, Dishonored, and long term strategy games like Europa Universalis 3 and Hearts of Iron. It's been a good little diversion from the classics I've been playing today and is a good way to compare the problems of yesteryear with today. I'll probably bounce between some of these until the middle of June when I come back.
I hope you all have a great spring and join me when I come back from my epic journey to the East Coast to play Bastion.
Good luck and enjoy yourselves,
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Well, we’re finally at the end. After roughly fifteen to twenty hours of game play, I have finished Ultima Underworld. This post will cover my brief backtracking to the crypts of Level 5 and my final confrontation with the Slasher of Veils. Follow me into the bowels of the Stygian Abyss to explore (part of) Level 8.
One Last Frustration
With the tri-part key, all eight talismans of Caribus, and the confidence of seven completed levels under my belt, I descended to Level 8 of the Abyss to take out the lurking evil that is the Slasher of Veils. Garamon had informed me he may be able to help me with this overwhelming task if I could acquire his bones and return them to his grave in the crypts. Putting this at the top of my list of priorities, I set forth.
Level 8 is basically a molten chasm constructed of nothing but cliffs and rivers of lava. The dragon scale boots nullified the threat of the lava, but it did not get rid of the threat that constantly respawning fire elementals posed. These things were everywhere and could make quick work of my level 16 character if I got caught by surprise. I spent most of the time searching the southwest area filled with bone piles for any sign of the correct one, but they all looked the same. I finally came across one particular nook containing a stone golem, supplies, and several magic rune stones strewn over the ground indicating a struggle. I assumed this was the site of Garamon’s final stand, but made sure by testing with other generic bone piles that stack together into piles of multiple units. Satisfied that the bones did not stack, I returned to the crypts of Level 5 to give his remains a proper burial.
After interring the bones, the ghost of Garamon appeared to thank me for stopping his brother and putting him to rest. Before leaving, he tried to brainstorm ways to take out the Slasher of Veils. Hmm… if we only had items of pure virtue… to which I responded with “what about these talismans?” That seemed correct, but “how can we destroy them to release their power?” he asked. “Drop them in lava?” Seemed good enough for him.
So the answer is to destroy all of the items I have been working so hard to attain to force the Slasher through a dimensional rift, banishing him from Britania forever. Easy enough, right? With this information, I took one last look at the levels I had worked so hard to explore and stepped into Level 8 for the last time.
Finding the prison of the Slasher of Veils was very easy with the dragonscale boots. After just a minute of walking through the lava lake and fighting a few flame elementals, I found a large central structure with a stone door and triangular indentation matching the tripart key. I’m pretty sure I skipped roughly half the floor by doing this, but I don’t really mind since I seem to have wrapped up most of the story threads I had encountered. Nervously, I put the key into the giant door to reveal…
The Slasher of Veils trapped in the middle of a lava pool. Fortunately, he is unable to move allowing me to walk around getting some glamour shots for the blog. It is interesting because as an adult I had no apprehension about walking around the area and exploring the chamber, but as a child, I can imagine being very scared that the demon may spring out of his reverie at any moment. It was a fleeting thought, but one that made me think about how I interface with games now. In any case, I began the procedure of banishment by tossing all eight talismans into the pool. After disposing of the last talisman, the Sword of Justice, a moongate opened swallowing the Slasher of Veils AND me with it!
Dumped into a chaotic landscape of mysterious paths, disembodied eyes, mouths, and constant damage, I immediately started running. There were several paths to take, but I remembered the advice I wrote down given by a crystal ball on level one saying that the green path was correct. With the Slasher in pursuit, I sprinted all the way down the path which seemed to go on forever. In fact, I was almost completely dead by the time I reached the moongate exit and was worried I would need to do the whole thing again. Fortunately, I made it just in time and the gate slammed shut behind me trapping the demon forever.
Finally thanked and given a quick “Sorry” by the Baron who had essentially sentenced me to death in the Abyss, I boarded a boat back to Britania and traveled back to Earth to sleep off the adventure. I had finally finished one of the most revered games in the history of PC gaming: Ultima Underworld.
Next time I will be giving my final thoughts about Ultima Underworld, but, in the mean time, I have been playing through a few other games that were not on the list. I have just about played out The Binding of Isaac, although I would like to unlock the final levels to truly “finish” the game. I’m not sure if I will go for all of those achievements on there, even though I hate to be outdone by Gary. I also began playing Dishonored which is a pretty cool game and has been enjoyable since it strongly evokes the feeling of Thief: The Dark project. (It’s also easier to play without having to stop and take notes as I do when blogging.) In any case, I am looking forward to the next game I have picked and hope to begin writing about it soon.
What is the game? Oh, sorry. The next game in my sights is going to be a critical favorite: 2011’s Bastion. I am excited about this one and hope I can complete it before plans put temporary brakes on the blog. I will be visiting my parents in the United States in May and June and do not plan on playing too many games for the blog at that time. Anyway, stick around while I collate my thoughts about Ultima Underworld into one package for you.
Hint: I really liked it.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
[It really does help to have the medallion.]
[The maze without the Crown of Maze Navigation.]
[The same view with the crown on.]
Uh-oh, looks like Tyball was responsible for kidnapping the princess, but meant to use her as a vessel for the pan-dimensional demon The Slasher of Veils! And now that I have killed him and released the princess, the hideous creature will soon escape and wreak havoc on Britania! It looks like we've really messed things up down here. I had no choice but to figure out a plan to get to level 8 and defeat the Slasher of Veils. I also took the opportunity to smash Tyball’s orb with an orbstone to restore magic abilities on level 7.
[The last part of the key is mine!]
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
[My map of Level 6.]
[Haha. Not really, bub.]
Friday, March 1, 2013
Level five of Ultima Underworld is definitely the most bizarre design I have experienced so far. Although the map and layout is symmetrical, the individual areas seem very disconnected and each has its own quirks. They all came together with some strange puzzles and even crazier references that were a completely surprise. This is a pretty quick one, so let’s dive right in.
In the last post I had mentioned that I visited the tombs of Level 5 to retrieve the hilt for the sword of justice. I returned to explore the rest of the area from that starting point, but found it was actually cut off from the rest of the floor. Returning to level four, I found more stairs in the meeting hall that led to the central area of level five proper. Ripping my way through spiders and skeletons using my newly forged (and indestructible) Sword of Justice, I found myself in small room with one lever at its four corners and a pedestal in the middle. This is the site of the Ring of Humility that the knight had tipped me off about in return for the gem cutter. Using the correct combination, I found myself in possession of the ring and halfway to all eight of the talismans of Cabirus.
Continuing south I arrived in a large meeting room presumably used by the organization different societies attempting to create a utopia in the Abyss before it all fell apart after Cabirus’s death. Taken over by rodents and rubbish, the whole area was quite effective in conveying a feeling of ruin, decay, and tragic failure of an idealist’s plans. Sound familiar to anyone? (Bioshock)
Other than that, the other portions of the level surrounding the central hub were quite straightforward. The east was blocked and had a set of stairs heading down to level six, south led to a large cavern with a lava river and a sad mage pining for her lost boyfriend named Tom, and the west contained a shrine and an NPC named Anjor. Anjor is a wizard looking for eighty rock samples contained in the mines to the southwest to aid his magical studies. Unfortunately, the mines can only be accessed through a teleportation chamber the ghoul mine foreman knows about. I was not interested in carrying around so many rocks, but I retraced my steps to level four to return in the southeast portion of the map to talk to the ghouls.
Not quite the crypt keeper.
As a pleasant surprise, the ghouls were very helpful and formerly part of the larger society being formed in the Abyss. One ghoul, named Marrowsuck, converted some string and the dragon scales I had traded the trolls for into a set of dragon scale boots allowing me to walk on lava. I also spoke to a friendly ghoul named Eyesnack who taught me a song for a flute I had found in the meeting chamber that I am sure will come in handy later. After finally getting the combination to open the teleportation room for the mines, I stepped in and worried about how I would ferry all these rocks back to Anjor.
What a weird surprise this turned out to be. The mines are laid out in a symmetrical grid with the required rock samples that actually have zero weight laid out as evenly spaced dots. Four ghosts flew around as I collected the dots in a giant and tonally inconsistent Pac Man reference. Even though this is not nearly as egregious as Minecraft in Borderlands 2 or ‘lol bacon’ type jokes in other games, it really tore me out of the experience since the rest of the game was moderately serious. Goofiness has always been part of the Ultima experience, but this one was just so out of the blue it seemed strange. I imagine it was cool on release, though, and took quite a bit of quest scripting to get working. I’ll let it slide.
Returning the stones to Anjor, I was given a giant chunk of gold that I am not sure what to do with and sent on my way. I explored a few more corners that hadn’t been revealed, found a hidden door that connected to the tombs, and finally made my way down to level six.
Next post I will get into my adventures on level six and my delight of how everything is coming together. I think I am actually getting really close to finishing the game (at the time of this post I am on level seven) and am looking forward to seeing its conclusion. Thanks for checking in even though this was a short level without much content besides the Pac Man reference. Level six has much more plot relevant action.
As always, follow me @backlogkiller on Twitter and leave any comments you have about your experiences with Ultima Underworld. It remains a joy to play and is definitely one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had while gaming for the blog. Every session reveals more influences it has had on game design solidifying its legendary status more and more for me, personally. I can’t wait to see what it offers up next!
Monday, February 25, 2013
[The map of Level 4.]
[Rodrick is on the line, here.]
[I sure waited long enough.]