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PC Gamer looks back at Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss

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PC Gamer looks back at Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss

Editorial - posted by Zed on Mon 19 November 2012, 14:38:36

Tags: Blue Sky Production; Looking Glass Studios; Ultima Underworld

PC Gamer has published a retrospective article on Blue Sky Productions' (later Looking Glass Studios) Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss.

It’s difficult to overestimate just how many innovations Underworld brought to the genre, but it was what I was actually doing in the game that hooked me. Even at a time when complex, massive RPGs were the norm, it was exceptionally engrossing. I still have my notebook; it says things like ‘Sir Cabirus: eight talismans’, ‘Ironwit wants blueprints – SE of his complex?’ and ‘Uus Por: large jumps’, along with translations of a lizardman language and other long-forgotten reminders to myself.

‘Uus Por’ was a spell I’d discovered: in Underworld, you cast spells by collecting individual rune stones you find in the dungeon, then arranging them on your rune rack. Some of these spells you can find written down, others have to be discovered through experimentation.

Each of the eight levels of Underworld is artfully designed. As you descend deeper, you’re introduced to more and more factions. There are the goblins, of mutually hostile green and grey varieties; the lizardmen, with their seemingly impenetrable language; an order of knights described by the strategy guide as ‘depressingly virtuous’; and the usual ogres, trolls, ghouls, mages, bats and more.​

This is part of their Reinstall series of articles. Hopefully they'll cover more CRPGs in the future.

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