Moonglow. City of Magic and Honesty. Well except things have kind of gone haywire and it has not turned into a bastion of lies and deceit.
Well… perhaps she should just have renamed the city Moonshade then?
You actually get your first sign of this dishonesty upon exiting Deceit, where a knights threaten to kill you if you don’t give him his dagger back. He had been sent toward you by Tydus, the keeper of the Lycaeum, who claimed you had his dagger – a family heirloom. Altough the Knight is reasonable and once seeing you don’t have his dagger, realizes he has been played for a fool and warms you about Moonglow.
One thing about Moonglow though, is that is trully a beautiful city to behold, especially when coming in at night when this magical fog hovers on the ground. It’s really beautiful and immersive to look at, the the isle of Moonglow is also very neat to explore with some nice things to find, notably a wrecked ship!
Alas, there is not much else to be said in favor of Moonglow.
Remember when I talked about how the point of Ultima IX was to have the Avatar showing the true Virtues to people and how this lead to a major character in the city showing Virtue and inspiring the others? Yeah well… looks like Moonglow’s designer didn’t get the memo as it’s not really present in there (except for a poorly handled kid who cries wolf but is too minor a character to inspire anyone).
There are basically two majors characters in Moonglow: Batista and Tydus.
Batista holds the Sigil and agrees to offers it to you in exchange for a Shield you can find in Mariah’s house – saying that this shield will allow her to resurrect Mariah (if she’s dead) or cure her (if she’s ill). Note that is she is still alive, Mariah will appear when you get the Shield, telling you Batista is full of crap, and teach you the ritual of Restoration which you can perform at any Shrine to restore your health and mana. But well… in my case she was dead, which doesn’t change anything
Not that it matter since this screams of poor design, since as I mentioned in my previous post, there is nothing hinting in the game that the Wyrmguard in Deceit would me Mariah, and no references even to this encounter. Meh.
But in any case you quickly get the Sigil, which at least lead to nice dialogue from Batista about how the Avatar will not always be able to save Britannia.
Now Tydus will gives another example of poor design. Since you see the point of him is to make him reveal the rebuild Lycaeum (who now exists as a nice floating building in the middle of town) in order to learn the Mantra from the Oracle. But well… if you’ve played any other Ultima you already know it and nothings prevent you to get to the Shrine and restore it once you have the Sigil. Except that this lead to Tydus still acting like a bastard even with Virtue restored. It doesn’t break the game, but as I said: poor design!
Tydus is basically sending you on a wild goose chase twice to get a supposed Staff of Wisdom, with both account meant to kill you. The first time you find Duncan’s dagger (who then agrees to give you training in 2 handed weapons, which is always nice!), the second you stump upon a daemon… who agrees to make a deal with you and give you the source of Tydus’ power: his Heartsone. You see the daemon was bound to protect it, but the trick is that he was not bound to attack an unarmed invader… so the Avatar agrees to come unarmed he can get the Heartstone.
At that point, Tydus admits to his lies, and agrees to reveal the Lycaeum.
The Oracle in the Lycaeum actually doesn’t reveal the mantra to you, but only says that it can’t be seen in the skies at night. One other point of note is the Book of Truth which you can get at that point is you admit that the Avatar is the cause of the evil in Britannia – which gives a first hint at the true nature of the Guardian.
So all in all, I’ve got to admit that while Moonglow does have its highlights; it’s probably Ultima IX at its worst in term of writing and execution.
But that was not really the issue here: it was bugged to death! I had so many crashes that this whole thing took me twice as long as it should have, corrupted saves and even had me redo a lot of stuff over and over.
The issue is this: when Tydus send you on his wild goose chase: each time this show the entrance of the cave you are supposed to go with a small cutscenes. Showing this scene renders the whole game unstable though and causes crashes almost right after this. Ditto for the cutscene revealing the Lycaeum. Even worst, saving after these scenes (as a mean to try to circumvent the issue) basically screw your save which is bound to crash every time upon reload. And miraculously if you didn’t had any crash but end up quitting and reloading; you might still end up with the same issue!
The only solution I’ve found: basically putting all clipping planes and details to the minimum. By doing it works and no crashes… but got that was annoying and frustrating – which I why I hurried to get the Book of Truth (I originally wanted to obtain it later) so that I wouldn’t have to return to this bug riddled place. I am not sure what caused the issue (it never ever happened to me before), but annoying it was.
In any case with Honesty restored, Raven is back with her Ship at Moonglow’s dock – revealing that Samhayne had no choice in delivering the Avatar to Blackthorn as he threatened to burn Buccanner’s Den down with his Wyrmguards. She also brought back ALL my stuff, my spellbook and my backpack, which is certainly welcome!
So now at this point you’re basically offered to go either to Yew (through Britain) or Minoc. You see as Blackthorn has the Codex, Is important to get the lenses before him so that he would not be able to read it.
Happy to leave this bug riddled mess behind, I decided to head to Britain – Yew awaits me, and while it’s not exactly a model of Virtuous execution either, it offers some pretty awesome gameplay areas!