Busy busy busy the last week or so, but I’m finally back and we’re almost done with Ultima Underworld. We recently left off with me having swept through the mages’ college in the Abyss, amassing all eight talismans of Cabirus, and trudging down to Level 7. What dangers awaited me? Boy howdy, it sure was a lot.
Level 7 did not start well when I noticed my mana, represented by the blue vial, drained itself down to nothing immediately after exiting the stairwell. This was obviously part Tyball’s devious plot and made it apparent I was going to have to solve the entire area without access to any magic. Luckily, I had only been using magic to heal myself and generate food so the loss of this ability did not have much of an impact. I can imagine it being a HUGE problem for players who had focused only on magic and had not put any skill points into weapons since this disadvantage comes along with no warning. I would say this is questionable game design; much like giving players of Deus Ex: Human Revolution the option of being completely passive and then throwing them into an unavoidable boss fight.
Exploring the level turned out to be just as much of a hassle as not having access to magic. I emerged from the stairs in a grey room with several exits, but most of them were obstructed either by sheer cliffs, locked doors, or just dead ends. I spoke briefly with an escaping prisoner on his way upstairs who told me that the only way to access these areas was with a talisman of Tyball’s army. This turned out to not be exactly true as I could also be jerks to the soldiers and they would open the gates to attack me. Unfortunately, this tactic carries the disadvantage that doors may randomly close and lock themselves leaving me stranded. Learning this, I made it a priority to seek the talisman.
[It really does help to have the medallion.]
The only series of unlocked doors led me to a mine that had been abandoned by slave workers because of a gazer I easily dispatched. I found an amulet, maybe belonging to a dead guard, that I could use to access every part of level 7 opening up more possibilities. The entire area was basically a fortress with check points, encampments, and mines being tended to by slaves of Tyball. After gaining access to the mines to the northwest, I entered a prison where I was trapped by the troll guard in a small transfer room. In order to escape, I had to bribe him to release me. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I didn’t have any extra money on me. The prison contained some helpful prisoners and a few locked doors, but nothing of immediate interest. Unlocking an escape tunnel, I worked my way back to the entrance through a molten cavern filled with fire elementals which are, no doubt, the toughest creatures in the game. Even at level 15, they could still kill me with several fireballs which I used to my advantage by respawning back at the entrance to the level.
This route also led to one of several quick diversions down to three isolated parts of level 8 including: a key cheekily hidden behind a skull, an abandoned mine containing ‘orbstone’ a wizard told me could be used to restore magic to level 7, and a treasure trove guarded by an imp and several golems that I will discuss later. I immediately took the orbstone and key to open most of the remaining doors in the level.
The key brought me to a lava pit containing what looks like a jumping puzzle. A nearby map indicated the solution was actually much simpler as a teleportation square brought me to the locked door at the top off the cliff. Entering the door, I found myself at the entrance to a deadly maze that will cause instant death if the incorrect path is taken. “How can we know the right path?” you ask. Well, aside from extensive trial and error, inscriptions and hints around the level refer to a crown that can be used to reveal the way. This brings me back to the treasure trove I had found before. The stockpile contains several crowns, all except one of which have a ruby in the middle. The obvious choice for the one piece we are allowed to take according to the imp’s instructions is the crown with the white gem. This is the Crown of Maze Navigation that can be worn to reveal the golden path to victory.
[The maze without the Crown of Maze Navigation.]
[The same view with the crown on.]
Game of Death
After following the long, circuitous path, I found myself abruptly face to face with the evil mage Tyball who instantly started frying me with electric bolts and fireballs. I was able to back him into a corner of the arena to prevent him from casting spells and wailed on him with the Sword of Justice until he went down. Even though it sounds easy, I only had a sliver of HP left. Afterward, I was given a troubling speech:
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.
Thinking quickly, I took the keys on Tyball’s corpse and returned to the prison to access the doors that were still locked. Each of these contained a prisoner willing to help me find one piece of the three part key to access the sealed room where the Slasher was held. One simply gave me a key, another drew a map on the back of a picture of a guy named Tom, and the last simply left me with the instructions to deliver the password Folanae to Illomo at the mages’ college.
Using the provided key, I unlocked a door at the far northwest of level 7 to ascend through three floors of monsters finding the first part of the key at the top. I returned to level 5 to deliver the picture of Tom to the mourning mage Judy who shed a single tear that turned into the second part of the key. The last part of the key was very interesting. After delivering the phrase ‘Folanae’ to Illomo, he urged me to check the library for more information. At the library, I found a book titled ‘Folanae Fanlo’ which Illomo told me could be utilized at shrines. Speaking the word fanlo at the shrine yielded the final part of the key which I combined with the rest to complete my access to the Slasher of Veils. But how would I defeat him? Resting gave me one final vision from Garamon in which he told me his brother, Tyball, had killed him in a disagreement and left his bones unburied on level 8. If I could bury his bones properly, Garamon would help me think of a way to defeat the demon and save Britania once again.
[The last part of the key is mine!]
Packing my things carefully, I set off for level 8 and the final part of Ultima Underworld. I was almost done.
Sorry about the lack of analysis, but, aside from a few missteps, the game is mostly the same solid design throughout all eight floors. I hope to provide a short diary of what I did to complete each level, but it’s beginning to resemble a walkthrough. Hopefully I can scrape together some stuff for my final impressions.
As for now, I am trying to complete Dark Souls again and hope to finish some other games before I play the next one for the blog which I have already decided on. I won’t reveal it yet, but I am looking forward to this independently developed action game a lot. I also may try to finish Dishonored in the mean time since my wife bought it for Christmas and I’ve still only played thirty minutes of it. Anyway, join me next time for the conclusion of Ultima Underworld!