Anyway, as that title may imply, I finished up Ultima V yesterday evening, and spent a good while afterward wandering around my apartment with the words "Man. Freakin' DOOM" falling off my tongue.
But I'm getting a little ahead of myself, aren't I?
|Right off the bat, this ain't gonna be simple.|
The first obstacle we encountered was one rapidly dealt with. As with all the other dungeons, the entrance to Shame had been sealed with a Word of Power by the Great Council. My investigations had long since provided me with the word necessary, so it was simply a matter of speaking it to provide us access to this first leg of our last foray into the depths. We braced ourselves for an onslaught - surely, if Lord British had been imprisoned in a section of the Underworld only accessible through Shame, it would be a tough fight to get through the dungeon if the king himself could not fight his way back to his own realm. We gritted our teeth, readied our weapons, and pressed forward into - an empty room. Nothing but rocks as far as our eyes were able to see in the dim torchlight, not even a way down or further in. Nothing, at least, until we took a closer look at the walls, after climbing our way over some of the rock piles that littered the room. After pushing a series of secret switches, we managed to find the way forward and pressed on.
|Even a gem couldn't pierce the darkness.|
The land in this part of the Underworld was rather swampy, so we hopped aboard the magic carpet and set about exploring. Over rough waters and even a stream of lava we directed our makeshift vessel, and it was harsh going through such conditions - we were glad that our trek through Shame had not proven overly difficult, for if we had come out of the dungeon with large injuries, it surely would have made this part of our journey all the more unbearable. Slowly we closed in on our target - only to come across the most oppressive, impenetrable, utterly crushing darkness any of us had ever known. Torches, light spells, nothing could push through it - not even a glance through a viewing gem revealed anything through that shell. It was only Lord British's amulet that revealed our goal to us, and even then, only just barely. Deep in the darkness lay a sealed crevasse much like those that heralded the entryways to the dungeons above ground. This, we discerned, was the "core of the world" the Codex had referred to. We took a few hours to rest before venturing in, and as if knowing we were on our way to him, the spectral visage of Lord British appeared to us, restoring us to the fullest of our ability. We stood before the passage, and the echoes of my shout of "Veramocor!" reverberated in the empty space, bounding off deep into the inky black that surrounded us.
A deep breath to steel ourselves, and we ventured in.
Immediately we were thrust into a room with no exits, even the opening we came in through sealing off behind us. Strange purple barriers blocked our passage in every direction, but the king's scepter proved able to dispel these ethereal wards. With no way of knowing which way to go, however, we picked a direction and hoped for the best. The first few floors of the dungeon Doom were a conglomeration of ladders, though our route proved mostly straightforward.
Then the difficulties began.
|SO glad I took the time to get access to those 8th Circle spells!|
We pushed deeper, encountering a fair number of demons as we climbed up and down pits, the maze-like passageways of the middle floors of the dungeon connecting with each other in intricate ways that we could hardly wrap our heads around. Eventually, however, nearing what we perceived to be the bottom of the dungeon, we came across a series of rooms that required practically every trick we had to even survive. First came a sandy room full of dragons, demons and sand traps, all hardy enemies, and all standing in the way of a ladder downward. Brute force was not enough here - it was a combination of In Vas Grav Corp spells and An Tym scrolls that eventually won us the day, scarred and weary. After picking up the remnant treasures the enemy left behind, we pushed onward, exhausted, only to find ourselves in even tighter quarters beset upon by more dragons, with their aquatic kin, the sea serpents, supporting them. Those defeating using much the same tactics, and donning regeneration rings to give us a hopeful edge, however slight, we set about finding a way to cross the river in the room, eventually finding a space on the wall that a carefully aimed shot triggered to form a bridge. Unfortunately, it also triggered a swarm of mongbats at our backs, which meant another arduous fight.
|Note Dupre's dead body. That was my fault. Entirely.|
|Not exactly the reward I was hoping for.|
Through a pit in the floor, we descended into a simple, well-furnished room with a mirror, though it was not our own reflection that we saw in it - but that of Lord British! One by one we were absorbed into the mirror, Shamino and Dupre resurrected in these final moments, and presented with the sandalwood box we had retrieved from his quarters, Lord British extracted a strange stone from it, casting it to the ground where we were all bathed in the crimson glow of a summoned moongate.
We all stepped through, and we knew our purpose had been achieved.
What the world had lost, it had now regained.
|A difficult choice, either way.|
As rough as it was, I really enjoyed the endgame, and part of that's an extension of the improvements made to the dungeons in Ultima V over IV. In Ultima IV, they all felt rather same-y, the same blue-and-green hallways in each of them, and more often than not, the floors of a dungeon felt fairly isolated from each other, self-contained and mostly a puzzle to figure out how to get from the ladder going back to the ladder going forward. In Ultima V, each dungeon feels more unique, from the layout to the design of the corridors. The prison of Wrong is laid out in cell blocks, the crypts of Covetous are littered with tombstones and skeletons, and Doom is one giant three-dimensional maze, necessitating one to go up and down and back and forth between several levels multiple times in order to find the way to the end. It's very much an improvement over the game's immediate predecessor, and I had a good time running through them. But still - man. Freakin' DOOM. What a ride.
As always, I'll have one more post drawing together my final thoughts on Warriors of Destiny, then it'll be time to put the game behind me and move forward onto Ultima VI. Finishing this one has put me in an interesting position, to be sure - but I think I'll leave that one for my next post. Until then!