Underwurlde

Hell of a challenge.

For the sequel to Sabre Wulf, Ultimate ploughed boldly onward with their unconventional approach to spelling. They also doled out their greatest cover image - the menacing silhouette of Lucifer himself, arms aloft atop a desolate peak. This artwork was matched by some of their most evocative inlay writing, previewing Sabreman's travels through a dark palace and descent into the black void; a rich, gothic text saturating the adventure with dark ambience.

Once again, the map was mind-bogglingly large, and a slight perspective change meant that most movement was either upwards towards castle spires, or straight down into the depths of the devil's lair. Another gameplay change rendered Sabreman invulnerable to marauding gargoyles and flying squid, but contact could buffet him across the screen - less than helpful when dangling from a cavern roof, or trying to float higher on one of the many naturally occurring bubbles. Indeed, this continual battle against being nudged to a tumbling death takes up the majority of the game, with the rest being dedicated to exploration and the hunt for specific weaponry to dispatch otherwise-invincible guardians.

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Although another fine technical achievement, Underwurlde, perhaps more than any other Sabreman title, is vulnerable to accusations of style over substance. The main action of the game falls victim to the overreaching creativity of the delicious back story, and despite the clear and colourful graphics, being sent spinning to yet another quick death by a randomly spawning creature soon becomes infuriating. Patience and fortitude are required in large amounts if any serious progress is to be made through the huge map, which makes this one for the devoted gamer only. Finish it, however, and you can truly consider yourself one of the gaming elite.

7 /10

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Peter Parrish

Peter Parrish

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