Ultima: Quest of the Avatar
|Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar|
|Publisher(s)||Origin Systems |
Pony Canyon (Famicom)
|Composer(s)||Ken Arnold (home computers) |
Seiji Toda (NES)
|Engine||Ultima IV Engine|
|Release date(s)||September 16, 1985 |
1990 (NES, SMS)
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, first released in 1985 for the Apple II, is the fourth in the series of Ultima role-playing video games. It is the first in the "Age of Enlightenment" trilogy, shifting the series from the hack and slash, dungeon crawl gameplay of its "Age of Darkness" predecessors towards an ethically-nuanced, story-driven approach. Ultima IV differs from most RPGs in that the game's story does not center on asking a player to overcome a tangible ultimate evil.
After the defeat of each of the members of the triad of evil in the previous three Ultima games, the world of Sosaria underwent some radical changes in geography: three quarters of the world disappeared, continents rose and sank, and new cities were built to replace the ones that were lost. Eventually the world, now unified in Lord British's rule, was renamed Britannia. Lord British felt the people lacked purpose after their great struggles against the triad were over, and he was concerned with their spiritual well-being in this unfamiliar new age of relative peace, so he proclaimed the Quest of the Avatar: He needed someone to step forth and become the shining example for others to follow.
The object of the game is to focus on the main character's development in virtuous life, and become a spiritual leader and an example to the people of the world of Britannia. The game follows the protagonist's struggle to understand and exercise the Eight Virtues. After proving his or her understanding in each of the virtues, locating several artifacts and finally descending into the dungeon called the Stygian Abyss to gain access to the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom, the protagonist becomes an Avatar.
Conversely, actions in the game could remove a character's gained virtues, distancing them from the construction of truth, love, courage and the greater axiom of infinity—all required to complete the game. Though Avatarhood is not exclusive to one chosen person, the hero remains the only known Avatar throughout the later games, and as time passes he is increasingly regarded as a myth.