A fantasy roleplaying game that debuted on an Apple computer? Yep, Ultima IV – first released for the venerable 8-bit Apple II in 1985 — was certainly that, but more importantly, it heralded a remarkable shift in tone for this series about an inter-dimensional hero (that would be you) who traveled to the medieval realm of Britannia to save its denizens from monstrous evils.
But instead of tracking some maleficent bad guy’s henchmen headed for a frightful final smackdown, Ultima IV bid players follow the road to self-discovery, pursuing a “virtuous life” and seeking “Eight Virtues” scattered throughout the realm.
The reward for gaining access to the game’s celebrated “Codex of Ultimate Wisdom”: Avatar-hood. Alas, for all Ultima IV did to transcend gaming’s narrative clichés, few games since have managed or even tried to emulate its uniquely contemplative quest vibe.