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21 March 2023

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss gameplay screenshot.
Ultima Underworld was one of the first RPG's that had a real 3D environment.

Platform/OS: DOS, PlayStation, Windows/macOS (2011)
Game developer: Blue Sky Productions
Game genre: First-person, RPG, 3D
Release: 1992

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Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss

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The Ultima series is one of the longest running rpg series there is and many of it's releases had great innovations technical and gameplay wise. Ultima Underworld - the Stygian abyss was one of the first RPG's that had a realtime 3D environment. Once again you step into the role of the Avatar, sort of a protector of Britannia who visits every now and then from another realm. The intro shows you, the Avatar, dreaming about problems in Britannia and allow yourself to be drawn into the world. You witness the kidnapping of baron Almric's daughter by a mage and his enchant but they both escape while you are trapped by the guards. Baron Almric decides that if you are really the Avatar that you should prove it by venturing into the Stygian abyss and to rescue his daughter and that is where your quest begins.

After the intro you are trust into the abyss with little to no equipment but the abyss is a big place and many have ventured in never to be heard from again so you are sure to find some helpful items along the way. You can easily pick up items from the ground by selecting the icon on the left and then drag in it to your inventory. You have only 8 slots for items but luckily you will find bags with which to increase item space. Soon you will find a bag with a torch, a sword and some food which are essential for your survival. Wandering about the abyss is done with the now standard WASD keys and the mouse so you can imagine how innovating the game must have been in 1992! The abyss isn't inhabited only by monsters as there are plenty of survivors who are not hostile towards you and some of which will even help or barter with you. The conversations are fairly simply done with a selection of questions you can ask the person. Combat on the other hand is action oriented and you must go into fight mode and swing your mouse in order to make your weapon swing at the enemies. Spells on the other hand can be 'made' by combining runes you find in your quest and when used in the correct sequence will set off spells like healing and such.

The game was really innovative at the time of release the most obvious of which are the 3D graphics of course but there are other things as well. The layout of the dungeon isn't the old straight corridors either, there are plenty of niches, bridges and high area's so you need to be careful where you walk. The automap is very detailed and will show all the corridors and niches you have explored but it also allows you to write extra information on the map so you can find places of interest easily. Another thing is that items have a limited lifespan like torches and weapons will break after repeated use making things a little more realistic and interesting, just remember to bring extra weapons or you'll find yourself fighting with your fists instead of a weapon. The character creation is somewhat simple by comparison but straightforward, you select a race, gender and class which affects your various statistics but nothing fancy.

I finished this game a long time ago and it was great fun and it still is. The graphics might not seem very good these days but in 1992 it was state of the art especially for an RPG. The controls should be familiar to anyone who has played a recent FPS as it uses the same keys and even if you haven't you can easily learn it in a few minutes. All combined I can't really find a real fault with the game so if you like RPG's and haven't got this yet hit yourself on the head and get it right now!
If you do not no how to play this game, find the Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss guides here.

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss Screenshots

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