Ophidian Dragon blogs his way through the entire Ultima series, from beginning to end.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ultima VII, Day 13

To my surprise, finishing this game took almost two hours, although the eventual ending is a pretty sudden one. There's a lot about the final dungeon at the Isle of the Avatar that makes it appealing though, the most notable aspect being the Thrones of Changes and of Virtue, the former of which teleports you without providing any immediately obvious indication in your surroundings--it would have been much harder if I were not able to see the rooms around the throne room!

Another memorable aspect of the game is the large blank maze, which is just black space between rooms with a candle. As it turns off, i never had any reason to use it, because I ventured across a liche and some explosions without noticing the dark path, and only later realizing it existed when I happened to bump into its other side. The Isle is also quite notable for the presence of the Armageddon spell, which I have not used but which kills everything in the game in a manner that prevents you, sadly, from inspecting their inventories.

I'm not sure what final thoughts to add about Ultima VII, except that when I first played it years ago, perhaps a year or so after it came out, it was a revelation to someone raised mostly on console RPG's. I played Ultima VI before Ultima VII (my brother brought his computer home and I played it during Christmas break; we had no PC at the time), but Ultima VII was the first time I had a game "all to myself," so to speak. The game has a huge degree of open-endedness, with only a few areas inacessible at the beginning of the game, and there's just such an immense amount of stuff to do without even really paying attention to the plot.

Its only significant downside, in my opinion, is the somewhat weak plot. There's an element of veiled menace inherent in the Fellowship throughout the game, but it doesn't really build to a climax, it simply seems as if everything is simultaneously revealed. You don't build a significant chain of evidence implicating the Fellowship in dastardly deeds; rather, you pretty much get told about it by a gypsy. That undercuts the suspense a little bit, but the existence of the Guardian was a surprise and very weird.

Incidentally, this game has my favorite introductory sequence, with you actually somehow playing Ultima VII, and the recognizable map from Ultima VI in the background.

With that in mind, I will next embark on a total side project--Ultima: Runes of Virtue, an action/puzzle spin-off that was produced for the Game Boy around the same time that Ultima VII came out. It was more related in plot and presentation to Ultima VI than Ultima VII, but I have chosen to follow a more or less chronological sequence in playing the games.

I'm not sure of my total time playing Ultima VII. I would like to estimate it at approximately 26 hours, perhaps, maybe a little less? I am expecting Runes of Virtue to go rather quickly by comparison!


Claus said...

Indeed, the huge amount of however tiny details is what makes this game magic, in a way.

For instance, I think some of the gravestones in Yew show names of former Yew inhabitants (of Ultiam VI days).

That final dungeon was actually the best one, only problem being that your party normally is too strong at that point that the opponents are more like victims instead.

Armageddon is quite nice to try out. Talkig to Lord British, to Batlin and to the ferry man of Skara Brae is quite interesting.

I think Batlin actually congratulates you on destroying the world whereas LB is somewhat furious.

Paulon said...

You actually learn a hell of a lot about what went wrong with Batlin from his post-Armageddon speech. From his history he had the potential to be the first person in more than 200 years to actually complete the Quest of the Avatar, but his encounter in Skara Brae left him a little deranged.

Grandor Dragon said...

I don't think that Ultima was about the Fellowship. It was bloody obvious from the beginning that they were no good. Ultima VII is about revealing the existence of the Guardian, and that part of the game (Alagner/Gypsies/Bucc's Den/Isle of the Avatar) was very well done.

Claus said...

He went to Skara Brae and came back deranged? I have no recollection of that ... What caused it? Horace? So, is Horace the source of all ev ... Fellowship?