The eighth of the Ultima
games developed by Origin Systems
. A departure in game style from the previous installments of the series, Pagan was an isometric Action RPG
, designed to be more accessible to a wider audience. It was for this reason (as well as the game being buggy
and very resource hungry
at the time of its release) that some bitter RPG
fans claim that it is the worst in the series.
In actuality, played on a capable PC with the (extensive) patch installed, it is quite an engrossing and enjoyable game, albeit one that is nowhere near as accomplished in terms of scope and story as Ultima VII. The game engine allows for the small game world to be modelled to a great degree of detail, and the sombre atmosphere (in terms of artwork, music, sound effects and general ambience) is brilliantly conveyed.
The underlying problem with the game (which was largely vexed already by bad timing, being a final floppy-based game in a world turning to CD-ROM) was that it explicitly rejects the ethical code that was crafted from Ultima IV onwards. To continue his battle against the Guardian and save his homeworld(s), the Avatar must effectively sacrifice the entire cursed world of Pagan by depriving the people the protection of their elemental gods.
This is an evil act, and although the 'point' was that to fight the Guardian (an immortal being) the Avatar had to transcend mortal concerns, it still seems a little excessive. Especially when some of the details of the game (the ability to kill children for instance) are rather unsavoury.
The game features an extensive quotes section which is quite enlightening (it seems that Origin were sick of the game by the end of its protracted development cycle). It also features one of the most finely crafted magic systems seen in a computer RPG. The presentation style was recycled in Ultima Online.