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

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Serpent Isle, Day 1

Friday began my Serpent Isle experience. I have to admit--I have played he beginning of this game probably a dozen times at this point, and I have the sequence of quests more or less memorized. Even some of the conversations stick in my head!

The first thing I noted when I originally played the game was how shockingly badly your party is equipped for their quest--Shamino doesn't have any armor, and the weapon selection of the companions is poor at best. I was buried in magic junk at the end of Ultima VII! Where'd it go? I won't even get into the fact that I became weaker, yetagain, right after finishing Underworld II...

In any case, my gaming time was spent wandering around Monitor, chatting up the locals, becoming a knight, and attending a really cruddy banquet in which a fight breaks out. The knight's test dungeon is located where Dead Man's Walk once was many years previously, whereas the town of Monitor was founded near what once was the town of Turtle. There are serpent ruins scattered loosely around these areas, and it seems as if most of the Serpent Gates which connect various places throughout the game are on spots of old towns.

Someone claimed that Serpent Isle was tedious--and I guess I see why; there is a HUGE amount of in-game text to read through, and sometimes the game won't let you read it all. For example, if you talk to Harnna, a healer in Monitor, you can ask her about everyone in town plus all kinds of other information, but after a few questions she says she needs to get back to work! Ahhh. There is also the fact that the game is fond of making you wai around for events to happen--A woman wants to make me a wolf cloak, but I have to kill 24 hours before it will be ready. That's OK since there is a fair amount to see in the town and nearby, but this early in the game it can be boring due to the fact that monsters kill me extremely quickly (in the Knight's test, a gremlin finished me off in three hits...)

I've also heard complaints about the game's linearity before, but I don't agree with them. It's true, there are certain segments of the game that are partitioned from previous segments, but within each basic section, the game is fairly nonlinear--you can solve the three town quests in any order you wish, for example, but all three must be solved before you can head north.

My favorite part of the game is that it's a pretty detailed world, and the order in which you do things tends to affect other characters' perceptions of you, so that people in Fawn remark on the fact that you have become a knight, for example. Also, each town has a fairly distinctive architecture, and even the names of the townsfolk seem to all go together.

So one day is down. I'm surprised that it took a whole two hours, actually! I've not yet decded when I will take on the Silver Seed add-on to Serpent Isle. I think maybe I will do it just before I find Batlin, but I'm not sure yet.


Anonymous said...

The "junk" you get at the start can be of help in certain quests, IIRC.

The "magical replacement" of the goods you had at the end of Black Gate was probably an "easy way" for the designers to downgrade the characters for the new game.

take care

Anonymous said...

Still, what were they thinking when they didn't give Shamino any armor?

Btw, regarding the "killing large animals" quote on the screenshot. A friend once told me that he had the feeling that Shamino tried to suck it up to the Avatar a bit too much in this game. I personally always thought that Shamino was cracking a joke here.