Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss

The Ultima series was a driving force in the RPG/Dungeon industry, creating a plethora of games throughout computing history. From Ultima 1 being released in 1981 to this, on the market in 1992, you could see they had come a long way. Ultima Underworld is a first-person dungeon crawl with the unknown around every corner. You creep your way through the Great Stygian Abyss, an underground dungeon with remnants of civility, on a quest to find the Baron's daughter and reclaim your freedom.

Gameplay: 9/10
The control in this game is pretty fantastic. Just exploring can be done easily with the mouse, hotkeys keep it as simple as possible. The inventory system works well, so does the spell casting. The fact that you can add map notes helps so much, otherwise you'd just be completely lost. The Stygian Abyss is freaking giant and learning its twists and turns is one of the real challenges of this game. They've also thrown in some platform-style jumping, forcing you to really master those controls. The fighting is easy enough and really isn't one of the hardest parts of Ultima Underworld. Most of the game, you're on your own as to where you're going or what you're doing, so -1 point for that.

Graphics: 9/10
You really feel like you've been thrown into the abyss. Lots of cave-like hallways with dirt floors and apparent carved stone walls, all of the items, enemies, and objects are easy to recognize. The game runs extraordinarily well, too, boasting only a few slowdowns and really impressing me with the framerate. That's one of the best things about this game is the fact that it's seamless like that. However, the tiles and floor get old after a while, so I have to -1 point for not enough variation on the walls.

Sound: 8/10
While the music is nothing incredible or thought-provoking, the strength in the sound comes from every thing else. If there's something to be done, it probably has a sound to it. Gotta love that. -2 points for too much silence when nothing is happening, though.

Overall: 9/10
Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss will keep you entertained for a long time. When I first played it, I don't think I left it for a few days. This was 1992's equivalent to 2011's Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. This game encompasses you and takes you on a scary journey through a giant Dungeon in first-person. Dying is pretty common when you don't know what's going on, so remember to save a bunch. I say it's one of the best games of all time. The game was announced as freeware sometime in the early 00's, you can download it from here.


  1. Where can you actually buy any of those old consoles? Prices have skyrocketed as much as i know and games must be even more expensive

  2. The best things about these games is they're free to play on any computer. Google "dosbox", it's a program that allows you to run most DOS applications.

  3. I loved Ultima underworld! the second one wasn't as good though in my opinion it just didn't feel right in comparison.