I made a concerted effort to finish Serpent Isle this Sunday. Despite spending quite a while on it, I still don’t feel that I’m actually that near the end yet but this is going to be a long post for all that.
I start out by exploring the new dungeon, I’ve just entered. This turns out to be another ruined Ophidian city. There is a library I find containing a brief history of Serpent Isle.
Another book suggests that I should have searched more on that island of penguins.
The earth serpent starts being a lot more helpful today and repeatedly tells me that the dead wizard is the key and I have to vanquish him.
Before I find the wizard, I discover what looks like a wizards lab with all sorts of strange items, including Rudyoms wand which must be about the last of my teleported items that I’m missing. There is also the flux analyser + a few other bits and pieces.
There are a few ghosts around this time but they don’t have too much to tell me on the whole.
I discover a coffin with a scratching sound coming from somewhere although when I open it there is nothing in it.
A moment later the dead wizard appears and is not pleased to see me. He isn’t hard to beat and goes down in seconds much like every other fight.
Among his possessions, I find a scroll detailing all the objects he has stolen.
There are also a couple more serpents teeth on a body in his jail.
Using the key from the wizards body, I exit the dungeon back out into the snow. I set out exploring and literally blunder through a secret wall into a new dungeon. This turns out to be the lost treasure of the pirate Silvernate who’s map I picked up a long time back. There is plenty of money and the like in here although I don’t discover anything that looks vital.
This clearly wasn’t the way I was supposed to go so I leave the dungeon and try heading east instead. I reach some sort of temple. There are quite a few lodestones of one sort or another in here – these look useful so I grab them all on the way through.
This temple turns out to hold the moons eye which I’ve been looking for.
Using the moons eye gives me a vision of Batlin preparing to use the wall of lights and setting all his henchmen up to stop me. Considering I was told I needed to find this I was expecting something a bit more significant.
I try using it again to see if I learn anything new but I just get a load of planets.
There isn’t anything else to this temple so I keep going through the snow. I find another place full of locked doors + a mind transference room. I’m sure I’ll need to come back here later but I can’t seem to do anything right now.
Sure enough, there is another dungeon further east. This is the right place as an automaton with Batlins voice is waiting for me.
Whatever it is that Batlin is doing he seems to think it will make him as powerful as the guardian. I wouldn’t have thought that this would go down too well with the guardian himself…
The entrance to the dungeon is blocked but going up a side passage, I can see the button to open it which I cast telekinesis on. There isn’t any way the avatar could really see that button of course.
I make my way through a secret passage that just seems to avoid a bit of corridor (presumably circumventing a trap). Shamino urges me to hurry on.
There is another secret door I need to find at the end of this corridor – a gwani wandering around in there gives me the clue to look for it.
This gets me into yet another ruined city. I find a locked temple with a book outside giving details of how to get in. I need to find objects of virtue and place them on a plinth.
Very nearby there are 3 mini shrines to the three order virtues, each containing pedastels with items on them. Its a safe bet that these are the items I will need.
I collect the items then place them on the plinth until I figure out which is the right one. After all 3 are done the door opens.
I’m now told that I need a sceptre to get into the library. I’ve not seen one of these around yet.
However, just to the south in the same building is an automaton waiting to give the sceptre to the great hierophant. Hes a bit confused after all these years and by lying to him and saying thats me I get the sceptre from him.
Placing the sceptre on another plinth gets me teleported to the library. There is quite the selection of books here including the complete details of the Ophidian virtue system. Once I’ve read the books there doesn’t seem to be anything to do so I use a teleport to exit.
Further East I find one of Batlins henchmen waiting for me. He makes a few threats then runs off. He has filled the next room full of exploding traps. With a bit of trial and error + some heal spells I make my way through it.
There is no sign of Batlins gargoyle but behind a locked door is another automaton. He won’t let me past unless I can prove I’m a follower of order which involves telling him which book a quote came from. I try all the answers I’ve got but none of them work so its back to the library again.
There was a key under one of the books which I missed first time around. This opens a door to the NW and gets me to a single significant looking book which is the one I need.
The automaton opens the door for me and another of Batlins henchmen turns up with more threats. Again he runs off rather than fighting.
I make my way to the north, the corridor looks like it was heavily trapped with burn marks everywhere but I don’t set anything off and the pirate is already dead when I get there, presumably a victim of his own traps.
Sybil who I went collecting gold with much earlier in the game appears along with a load of fighters in a last ditch attempt to stop me. They even transform themselves into cyclops. I wasn’t really aware she was on Batlins side and it seems strange that she helped me out earlier in the game.
Like all good villains she threatens to return even though shes dying. I suppose the implication here is that you can fetch people back from the void after they have died. This could have implications for reviving Gwenno maybe?
I’m less than surprised, that when I finally catch up with Batlin it is exactly at the moment that he manages to use the wall of lights.
It appears that I’m too late as there isn’t much I can do to stop him entering the wall now.
Somehow the banes (which I keep hearing mention of), don’t allow Batlin access to the wall. Batlin is struck down dead.
The guardian makes his first appearance of the game, and says this is how he rewards failure. If he can kill this easily, I’m surprised he didn’t do the same to the avatar or LB. I suppose he must need to be controlling the person involved?
It’s always possible that it wasn’t the guardian, however, as at this point something happens to all my companions.
Dupre, Iolo and Shamino are all possessed by the banes. These banes seem to be Serpent Isle equivalents to the Shadowlords, in that they represent the opposite of the primary virtues. Before I get chance to do anything they all disappear in explosions leaving all their possessions behind and killing Boyden in the process.
This leaves me on my own again and there is no way I can carry all the stuff so I have to leave it where it is. I’d be fairly lost on what to do here but the earth serpent tells me to go and retrieve the gwani horn.
Batlin has his own serpents jaw and I take all the teeth from it and put them in mine. He also has a blackrock serpent which looks important. This is the opposite in theory of the one I brought with me from Britannia (which I’m still looking for). In theory I collected this in my last adventure and I vaguely remember hearing about it being in UW2 somewhere but I can’t ever remember finding it.
I head back to the wizards house from earlier to get the horn. It is inside a force field but I discovered a dispel field scroll just before I met Batlin.
The earth serpent pipes in again and send me off to fetch Gwenno’s body now.
The gwanni horn seems to have the power to make ice explode. When I get near to the tomb, there is a barrier across the path but the horn soon clears it.
Instead of burying them the gwani keep their dead in giant ice cubes. The horn melts these and after a bit of searching I find Gwenno’s body. The earth serpent doesn’t give me any clue as to what to do with it although taking it to Monk Isle woudl seem like a good idea.
Before that I try a few of my new teeth to see where I end up. One of them gets me to what looks like Fawn but I can’t get through the locked door and into the city. I do get to see one of the people here drop down dead – it looks as though the Banes have got here before me.
I head for Monk Isle and the first monk I ask revives Gwenno. She is moving around but does not seem to be herself at all.
The earth serpent chimes in with some more advice at this point and I ask the monks about it.
The head monk points me in the direction of one of the mages in Moonshade to get the scroll of the serpent.
This scroll should help us to cure Gwenno which seems to be my top priority for now.
I head for Moonshade which proves to be a longer job than it should be. For some reason the serpent gate to Moonshade isn’t working. Whenever I use it the screen goes black and I just end up back where I started in the dark path. This means that every time I want to go to Moonshade from hereon out I have to go to Furnace and walk the rest of the way. This gets a bit infuriating when I have to head back there as often as I ended up doing today.
When I get there most of the inhabitants have been killed off. The children from the mage school are still alive and tell me how there master was turned to stone in a battle with the bane.
It appears that the anarchy bane took over the town and before long the mages had killed each other off. I’ll admit that most of the Serpent Isle residents didn’t exactly endear themselves to me but its a bit of shock that a whole town would get wiped out like this.
I’m told that one of the mages had some sort of special wand which I might be able to use to turn the stone statue now decorating the school back into a mage.
My old companion from the mountains of freedom is still alive although he is fearful that won’t be the case for much longer. One of the mages has set a death knight on him – he claims to have my blackrock serpent but won’t give it me back unless I defeat the knight.
The knight isn’t too tough but does run away as soon as I hurt it a bit which leaves me chasing all over the place to try to get the final blow in. I’m told the blackrock serpent is in the old house west of town and given a key to get in.
In the town hall, I find the Torrisio who’s wand I need to reverse the stone spell.
He tells me its caled the Philanders Friend. I remember picking this up along with the flux analyser in one of the dungeons but one of my companions was carrying it so its on the floor in the temple of emotion. This is going to mean serpent gating over there and then walking all the way back from Furnace again.
I find instructions to find some sort of buried treasure in the pub but I haven’t attempted to follow up on this. I don’t need any more weapons or money.
I head off looking for this house with the blackrock serpent instead. It is actually outside of the city walls, I wish people would be more specific with their directions as I can spend ages looking for these places. The key I’ve got doesn’t even open the front door but I do find a key in a hollow tree.
When I get in the house, I notice a little outhouse which I hadn’t seen before with the blackrock serpent in. My key unlocks this and I now have both the order and chaos serpents.
I head back to pick up the Philanderers Friend. Sorting through the piles of stuff takes a while but I find it eventually.
A long walk later and I’m back in Moonshade. I use the wand and get the serpent scroll.
Reading the scroll myself, I don’t learn anything in particular so I head back to Monk Isle.
I notice Cantra wandering around who seems to have the same problem as Gwenno.
The solution is to go to the appropriate temple and fetch some virtuous water which I should make Gwenno drink.
There is a book in the library which gives me directions to all the temples. A much easier alternative is to use the serpents jawbone to teleport there directly. While in Moonshade, I’ve been picking up quite a lot of teeth by ransacking all the empty houses so I’m only missing a few now.
The temple I need to go to is the one I was in some time ago. I teleport straight there and this time manage to find a few doors that open. An automaton gives me some vague instructions about needing to use an automaton to fetch the water as I would have to walk through acid.
I don’t seem to be getting anywhere here so I head back to the monks for more here. I’m given a vision by one of them showing what looks like a metal woman. This has to be the automaton back at the pub in Moonshade.
A long walk back to Moonshade and I find her still in the pub and I now have the option to ask her about acid. She wishes that there was some way to swap bodies as she is just an automaton and can’t fetch water herself? This makes no sense at all – surely if shes complex enough to cook and talk she can cope with filling a bucket. If this were Ultima 6 I’d just have her join the party and swap to controlling that one character but I guess that wasn’t implemented in U7 so we have this more complex alternative.
I’ve already seen the mind control chamber at the temple but apparently that isn’t enough so I have to go back again and try to find whatever I’ve missed.
This time I notice a couple of buttons I didn’t press before. These get me into a lower level and I find a key in a semi-invisible chest.
I work my way through the temple until I find a book detailing body/mind transference. This has to be the trigger I needed.
Another long trek later, I’m back in Moonshade and this time Petra gets the idea and joins the party.
She is surprisingly weak considering she’s made of metal but I don’t need her for combat anyway. The transference is easy enough. I just stand on the plate and telekinesis the button. We transform into loads of other creatures before settling into the correct bodies.
The transfer doesn’t last long before I swap back. I still haven’t figured out where this acid actually is so I go exploring again. I found a couple of Y shaped things which fit into the panels on the altar. This creates a bridge to the steps in the middle of room.
This gets me to a new area and the path to the north means instant death for me but after swapping bodies with Petra its no problem. I brought a bucket with me but there is one in here so I fill them both and then head back to Monk Isle.
The water works on Gwenno and she is returned to normal.
I was expecting her to join my party but instead Gwenno decides to remain here and research the problem in the monks library. We need to trap the souls of the banes somehow. This has to be a question for a mage so I’m sent back to Moonshade, yet again.
Gustaccio was the one who sold the information to Batlin. He doesn’t want to help me for free and demands his wand back.
I need to use worm gems (whatever they are) to trap the souls and he gives me a spell to cast on these gems which I have to use first.
As luck would have it Ducio can make worm gems. I guess I only need 3 but I ask him to knock me 4 up as a spare may come in handy and I really don’t want to have to walk back here again.
I cast the spell on them and they change shape slightly.
I head back to Monk Isle with the news. Gwenno has been busy in the meanwhile and tells me that I will need to bathe the soul cages in the water of the appropriate temple to capture each bane. I try using my spare bucket of water on one but nothing happens so I guess I actually have to use the cage in the well itself which is going to mean more body swapping. I can also find out the location of the bane somehow by using a device in each temple. My next task looks plain enough then, I bathe all these prisms, track down my companions and capture the banes. What comes after that I’m not sure although I expect Gwenno will provide the answer when I get that far.
I’ve made a lot of progress today, although it would be an exageration to say that the end is in sight. A happy ending is looking unlikely given that most of the population appear to be dead if Moonshade + the bit of Fawn I’ve seen are anything to go by.
I think the game for me has lost a bit of its appeal today. I’ve been expecting the story to build towards a conclusion but it seems to have slowed and I’ve ended up going backwards and forwards between various areas over and over (more than I’ve mentioned here). The serpent gate problem isn’t helping with this at all but with any luck I won’t have to go back to Moonshade again.
On the whole, I’d say that I’ve cooled to Serpent Isle the more of it I’ve played. All the games in the series from U5 on have felt like a virtual world – I’ve not had that feeling at all in Serpent Isle. The whole setup is artificial with non-sensical barriers being put in my way to keep me within certain areas. I thought at first this would benefit the storyline and it started out well but this far in I don’t think the storyline has been good enough to justify the restrictions. Games like Final Fantasy 7 or Planescape Torment did a better job with this style of gameplay with stronger storylines throughout and I actually appreciate Ultima 7’s style of gameplay more now that I’ve played this. Both FF7 and Planescape came much later though and Serpent Isle was clearly influential on the direction western RPG’s took.
Its still a very good game & I’m enjoying it for the most part but its not going to be up there with my top few Ultima’s. Where it does have all the rest beat is in sheer size. I’ve not spent this long on any other game in this blog and it just shouldn’t be possible to fit this much onto 7 floppies.