Two dungeons and a funeral…

And so here we are: the infamous Sewers of Hythloth.

Wait, what?

What do you mean, Hythloth is not a Sewer?

But it is. Look:

Well okay. The truth of it is that this dungeons ware actually meant to be Britain’s sewers. In the end the sewers had to be cut, and there most likely wasn’t time to do a proper Hythloth. So these were recycled as Hythloth. Which is well… fine by me, I mean I can understand the issues so it’s okay.

In any case as far as dungeons goes, Hythloth is pretty nice. I would probably rank it at the bottom of Ultima IX’s dungeons to be honest but it’s not because it’s bad – it’s more because the others are just much better. It’s kind of a labyrinth really – except sewers looking. It has more combat than Despise – but it’s mostly with Spiders and Rats, so not that big a deal, altough the nasty fishes in the water can get annoying!

The concept is rather simple though: there are four statues and four pedestals scattered around the dungeon and you basically need to put the proper statue on the proper pedestal, and each open one of the grates leading to the exit. As for the Glyph and the Columns, they are guarded by a nameless Wyrmguard that is easy to dispatch though,and very close the the beginning of the dungeons so it’s actually not the main point of it. The main point really is to escape back to New Magincia.

There are some levers and valve to push here and there, as well as a single jumping puzzle (to which you can find the solution on a scroll, but which is so easy that it’s not worth all the complains you can hear about U9’s supposed jumping puzzles), but on the whole it’s not too hard as long as you don’t get lost. So it’s a well conceived too much, although it probably lacks the little spark some others have.

Now the interesting bit about Hythloth… is that you only have to play half of the dungeon. Halfway through you get a teleporter getting you to the exit next to the Shrine of Humility. The reason for this… is that during QA it was put forth that second half of the dungeons was too difficult and frustrating.

To be fair. That was true. I never did play this second half before today, and well – it is somewhat annoying. There are actually a couple of very smart ideas (notably a part which require the Avatar’s size to be reduced in order to enter a smaller tunnel. But it’s all ruins with a couple of poorly designer valves levers which tend to get annoying. Oh well. Thanks for that telepoter, heh?

In any case here I was back at the Shrine of Humility. So it was cleansing time!

And thus Humility was cleansed.

This lead to a new restored music that sounds really nice, altough unlike Britain well… there aren’t many NPCs to talk to since only Katrina is there (altough she does apologize for her lack of humility earlier!).

So it was time to return to Bucs Den through the tunnel, where people there actually do react to the whirlpools being gone, which is nice! But of course Samhayne was awaiting me. I mean I am going to obtain the codex right?

Except of course a trap was awaiting me.

Blackthorn was there! And he kicked my butt, captured me, hurt Raven and stole the Codex. Not too bad for a villain I guess!

I’ll say it I love that cutscenes. I knew from trailers there would be a cutscene at Samhayne, but I didn’t not know what. I was completely blown away the first time I saw it, basically going: “OMFG!!!!” Unlike the ambush one, it also looks VERY good, pretty much on par with the introduction. Alas the compression makes it suffer a bit on today’s hardware but well…

Unfortunately, it is followed by what is a butt ugly video where the Avatar is put into a prison. Those who saw the Ultima Collection trailer will remember this scene showing Lord British in it watching the scene through a sending. Of course Lord British has been erased, but the whole scene just feels… off graphically.

And yeah the worst thing about this is… you’ve just be shown the Avatar being thrown in a cell. With a door. And you wake up in a cell. With a GRATE. I mean COME ON! Would it have been so hard to put DOORS instead? Geez…

One point of note is that at this point: you lose ALL your inventory except whatever armors you wear. So no more backpacks or nothing for a while. Whoops.

In any case while this might not be apparent at first, you are actually in another dungeon, or most precisely Dungeon Deceit.

As its name suggest it actually has quite of bit about illusions and such. It has however very little in term of monsters, except for a couple of Mimics and focuses on puzzles. But it is a pretty awesome dungeon!

The first area pretty much involve pushing buttons and turning statues to get at targets. The second and larger part of the dungeons well… It admittedly feels like it has been taken straight out of Zelda, but I did mentioned Zelda is great right?

So you basically need to get magical orbs to put them on pedestal in four areas, where each one offers a timed formed of puzzle which basically involves throwing arrows at target. It’s really not that hard, especially since the controls are so intuitive – but it just really that fun.

Screw monster crawls! Ultima IX should be put up as an example of HOW to craft dungeons in RPG games. If you want hack’n slashing just go play Diablo and leave my Ultima alone!

In any case once you have done all this you gain access to the teleporter leading to the base of the Column. You first face a big nasty Hell Hound and then… a Wyrmguard witch!

Now one point of note: while there is NO indication of it, this is actually your friend Mariah. So you have to be careful if you don’t want to kill her. In this case I wanted to, because I felt it works better for the Moonglow plotlines. But something odd happens because after killing the first clone, I was sending loads of arrows to the two remaining images… and well they both vanished with no body and the transporter appeared. So I’m not sure if she died or not…

Oh well

I then went on to get the Glyph within the Column.

And then the last teleporter to the exit!

Moonglow here I come!

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3 Comments

  1. Iceblade said,

    October 19, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    You could really argue the kill or not kill Mariah thing for either case given the plotlines.

    If you kill her then later on it seems the Avatar knows that Mariah was the Deceit wyrmguard but during the Moonglow quests, he seems to clearly think that she was still alive. I guess it could be argued that he figured it out. Still, the lies from Batista seem even more blatant talking as if Mariah was still alive.

    Even so, I really got the impression the designers intended on you not killing her because a) they talk as if she is still alive, b) she gives you that warning about Batista, c) she gives you that ritual of restoration which you can’t figure out otherwise. Admittedly her whole execution was poorly done: a) there is no indication that that wyrmguard is Mariah….heck I don’t think she even said her name in the original, b) there is no way to avoid killing her without running away from her (you just have to kill that painful illusions (I thought illusions weren’t supposed to do damage), c) she only appears in her house at one time before the shrine cleansing and then disappears only being seen again at the end of the game, d) she actually has more dialog to give (she just talks about the moon collision course) but she is never triggered to give this dialog (though it is possible it is a very obscure trigger to get her to appear).

    If I don’t manage to accomplish anything with getting dialog trees expanded or npcs added, I will ensure that Jaana and Mariah get placed on the main map after the shine cleansing.

    • Sergorn said,

      October 19, 2010 at 9:16 pm

      Well actually, if you have killed Mariah in Deceit, Batista says that her friend Mariah has recently died and need her shield to ressurect her, so this *is* different. If you didn’t killed her she just says she is “ill”.

      I agree this part is poorly designed though – feels like a lack of communication between the Deceit and Moonshade design teams to me.

      I never thought for a minute this could be Mariah at the time (indeed Hairam doesn’t even have more dialogue in the dialogue file) altough I was somewhat puzzled by the whole “Mariah is dead” bit and I only began considering I might have done a mistake when I stumble upon Anaaj in Wrong since at that point I thought Iolo was the only Companon turned into a Wyrmguard.

      • Iceblade said,

        October 19, 2010 at 11:47 pm

        Ah, I forgot about that…I’ve always spared the companions except on my first playthrough….both Iolo and Mariah were killed. 😦 (course this was my time playing Ultima so I had no idea who the Companions really were (well there was that one book, but nothing beyond that and in-game dialogue)


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