Well that went… fast.
Of course with two generator down, I was already very close to the ending mind you, but these last parts went faster than I expected.
So as I mentioned a couple hours ago, I was heading for the Fellowship’s Meditation retreat near Serpent’s Hold. Of course Elizabeth & Abraham weren’t there having left for Buccaner’s Den (duh!). Explorations of the caves behind the retreat however, soon revealed the presence of the third generator: The Cube which allows the Guardian to speak to his adepts.
Alas, the Cube was protected by a high pitched sound which could kill my character, so I had to ask the Time Lord for help which told I needed to get Caddelite from the lost continent of Ambrosia, a material that came from a meteor that basically ravaged the lost isle.
So here I was on Ambrosia… Which in all fairness really has nothing in common to the Ambrosia I’ve already visited in Ultima III. But in any case, it was a nice thing to bring back anyway.
After getting the caddelite which was protected by a nasty Hydra (which did like last a couple of seconds before my party), I had helmets done by Zorn in Minoc and went back to the Cube.
The generator was no issue this time, and thus the three Guardian generators had been destroyed. Only one thing left: the Black Gate. Of course I needed to find it first.
The thing about the Cube, is that like all the generators it offers you a smaller replica of it – except that the small Cube offers one nifty capability: it drives the Guardian follower to tell you the truth, and ALL the truth. So it’s actually quite fun at that point to travel through all Britannia again to get the truth from corrupt Fellowship members.
The purpose at this point is to get to Buccaner’s Den (which I had already visited prior to that) in order to get all the details. It turns out the Black Gate is being built on the Isle of the Avatar, and you need to get a key from Hook’s lair in Bucs Den’s mountains to open the entrance to the Fellowship hideout (which in all likelyhood probably is in Dungeon Hythloth).
And so here I was flying away to the Isle of the Avatar… and the old Shrine of the Codex.
Now one thing I got to point: the first time I DID play Ultima VII, I hadn’t yet finished Ultima VI (still stuck at the Shrine of Diligence remember?) – so I had no idea the Codex had been banished to the Ethereal Void. So when I first went to the Isle of the Avatar, I was expecting to find the Codex to reveal me some nifty thing.
Except there was no Codex. It was heartbreaking.
I actually tried in vain to consult it with the Lenses from the Museum – but alas the developpers hadn’t considered the possibility.
And so here I was, ready to face the final dungeon of the game. Now I’ve been overly critical to Ultima VII’s dungeons – which have been mostly crap due to the fact that the engine limitations meant they had to be reduced to very little inside the actual mountains of the game.
Hythloth however is the exception: it’s actually really big by Ultima VII standard, it has branching, some puzzles, you can get lost easily… so I can really take you quite a few hours to finish it. At least the first time – since this is one of those area where knowing the solution makes it a tad too easy alas.
So after half an hour or so of exploring, I came upon the Black Gate and the Fellowship Inner circle. Hook, his gargoyle, Elizabeth and Abraham didn’t prove to be much of a threat alas and they perished really quickly at the point of my blade. Unfortunately Batlin escaped… Dang.
So here I was poised at the final choice.
You see, while traditionnal Ultima games usually offer little in term of choice to solve quests or plot – Ultima VII has the previlege of being the only game in the series to offer an alternate ending.
For indeed, you can choose either to destroy the Black Gate and prevent the Guardian from entering Britannia OR to pass through the Black Gate to return to Earth, and leave Britannia in the Guardian’s clutch.
(Obviously the former is the good one!)
One point of note too, it that Ultima VII was the first Ultima game (and probably one of the first videogames even) to have a movie-like ending credits, which of course have not become the norm!
I’ve actually watched the entire closing credits as usual (with one point of trivia to note, the main writer of Ultima VII – Raymond Benson has gone to write many James Bond novel as well as novelisation of Metal Gear games!), soletly in order to listen to the beautiful of the game that pass through the credits.
It sure was fun! While Ultima VIi still remains my least favorite episode of the “Guardian Saga” (yes – I realy DID say that), it is still one hell of a game and quite a fun romp to play.
Batlin awaits me on Serpent Isle… but alas it will have to wait a tiny bit – since the Guardian is now gonna strike Britannia again in Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds!