Become a Patron to help us improve MobyGames!

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (DOS)

92
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Not an American user?

Description

After having brought peace to Britannia during his previous journey there, the Avatar returns to our world. However, he is haunted by ghostly dreams that warn him of a great danger in Britannia. The Avatar decides to travel there once again. Upon his arrival, he witnesses the kidnapping of Baron Almric's daughter. Found guilty of the crime, the Avatar is thrown into the Great Stygian Abyss with the choice of either finding the girl or rotting in the dungeon. On his journey he will have to get along with the many inhabitants of the dungeon, who are survivors of a failed colony, and eventually find out that there's much more to this kidnapping than meets the eye.

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss is commonly considered the first role-playing game with fluid first-person movement in a real 3D environment. Unlike earlier first-person RPGs such as Dungeon Master or Eye of the Beholder, the player can move in every direction and the graphics are updated continually. The player is also able to look up and down with the press of a key, jump, and swim. The dungeon is not made entirely of corridors and rooms arranged in a rectangular fashion, but has a lot of variety: slopes, stairs, bridges, underground rivers, and more.

The game's combat system is action-oriented. The player has to draw his weapon, aim at his opponent, and hold the cursor over the game screen to inflict damage; the longer the player holds it, the stronger is the attack. Some weapons have different types of attacks, depending on where the cursor is held: for example, jabs are executed when the cursor is near the bottom of the screen, while slashes are performed with the cursor in the middle.

In the beginning of the game, the player chooses the gender, the class, and the initial skills for the Avatar. Skills include various weapon proficiencies, lockpicking, bartering, and others. They can be increased by reciting mantras at special shrines after having accumulated a sufficient amount of experience points. Leveling up also increases the Avatar's hit points and mana. The magic system is based on runes that can be found in the Abyss. If combined in the right order, they produce a magical effect.

As the Abyss is populated by more than just monsters, there are various conversations the Avatar can conduct with non-playable characters. The player can also make choices regarding the Avatar's behavior towards these characters. Game progression is largely non-linear: the player is able to explore most of the Abyss in any order, though several specific tasks must be accomplished in order to complete the story. An auto-map displays all the locations the player has explored previously, and also allows the player to make notes on it.

Screenshots

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss DOS Garamon, the mage that summons you to Britannia
Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss DOS Warren "Spectre" Heheh
Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss DOS Mano a mano against the evil mage Tyball. He doesn't go down easy...(unless you find the trick to cut off his powers)
Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss DOS Bartering with a Lizardman. Note their bizarre language. You can actually learn and translate what they are saying.

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

An early 3D game, but a true masterpiece nonetheless worldwideweird (54) 4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars
A Breakthrough 3-Dimensional Adventure game. Chris Martin (1112) 4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars
3-D way beyond its time Nathan Tyler (5) unrated
Best game EVER! Ali Jakamy (8) 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
An Engaging 3-D RPG! Toadstool (50) 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

The Press Says

PC-Spiele '93 1992 10 out of 10 100
Dragon Nov, 1992 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars 100
The DOS Spirit Dec 11, 2006 6 out of 6 100
Pelit Feb, 1992 98 out of 100 98
Power Play Jun, 1992 94 out of 100 94
ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Apr, 1992 938 out of 1000 94
ASM (Aktueller Software Markt) May, 1992 11 out of 12 92
PC Format (UK) Dec, 1994 91 out of 100 91
PC Review UK 1992 9 out of 10 90
All Game Guide 1998 4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars 80

Forums

Topic # Posts Last Post
Should I be an Avatar? 4 St. Martyne (3562)
Oct 01, 2008

Trivia

Armageddon

Towards the end of the game you can learn a spell that will destroy all life. If you cast it, all other creatures, items, doors and even stairways are destroyed, leaving only the walls, floors and ceilings.

Covermount release

A complete version of Ultima Underworld is available on the July 2000 issue of PC-Gamer Magazine (CD-ROM edition).

Development

  • According to PC Gamer (July 2000), Warren Spector wasn't involved with Ultima Underworld until about a year into production.
  • The programmers' test image for the texture-mapping code was a digitized B&W photo of Abraham Lincoln.

PlayStation version

This was the only Ultima game released for the PlayStation system, and only released in Japan. It can only be played on Japanese consoles because there are regional lockouts built in. Supposedly the monster graphics were improved over the PC version and the title music was redone.

References

Near the Magic Academy there is a spectre called Warren floating around. This is a obviously a reference to Warren Spector and continues a tradition of him appearing in the non-mainstream Ultima games (The Savage Empireand Martian Dreams).

Technology

Ultima Underworld is the forefather of modern continuous-movement first-person texture-mapped gaming. It pioneered the use of "real" 3-D which allows the player to change the view up or down as well as jumping.

Reportedly it was a demonstration of the in-development Underworld technology during the 1990 CES that prompted John Carmack to write the Catacomb 3-D (released about six months before Ultima Underworld) engine which uses texture mapping. However, the extent of this influence is not clear due to conflicting statements from the id people.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1992 (Issue #100) – Role-Playing Game of the Year
    • April 1995 (Issue #129) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #68 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
  • GameSpy
    • 2001 – #8 Top Game of All Time
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 02/1999 – #8 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • Origin Awards
    • 1992 – Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Computer Game
  • PC Games (Germany)
    • Issue 01/1993– Best RPG in 1992
  • Power Play
    • Issue 02/1993 – Best Game in 1992
    • Issue 02/1993 – #2 Best RPG in 1992
  • Retro Gamer
    • September 2004 (Issue #8) – #62 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)
Information also contributed by Anthony Bull; Chris Martin, Fafnir, Jeanne, Kartanym, PCGamer77, Shadowcat and Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe

Related Web Sites

  • Ganesh's Website (Walkthroughs, tips, hints, cheats, trainers, backgrounds, wallpapers, desktop themes, music, mp3s, midi, hand-picked *very* funny jokes and much MUCH more!)
Terok Nor (17840) added Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (DOS) on Jan 08, 2000
Other platforms contributed by Trixter (8743), Kabushi (116353), Terok Nor (17840) and Oleg Roschin (164804)