Knights of the Nine (Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion Expansion)


Computer Platform: Xbox 360 (Microsoft)
Produced by:
Price Range: $10 or under
Learning curve time: 1-30 min.
Age level: Teen to Adult
ESRB Rating: M (Mature)

     Reviewed By: Phil Rownd (aka boyward)

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Rating: 4 of 5 (good)
Gameplay: 5 of 5 (excellent)
Violence: 2 of 5 (heavy)
Adult Content: 4 of 5 (barely present)

Knights of the Nine (Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion Expansion).  Illustration copyrighted.

Although it’s shorter than Oblivion’s other expansion pack, Shivering Isles, Knights of the Nine’s emphasis on bravery, honor, and redemption makes it a much better choice for gamers wishing to extend their role-playing experience in Tamriel. And like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Lewis’ Narnia series, the story has some neat parallels to the truths taught in Scripture.

Umaril the Accursed was the sorcer-king of the Ayleids who ruled the land long ages before the rise of Men. Sauron… er, Umaril was cast down by Pelinal Whitestrake, but Umaril’s spirit survived, and now he has returned to seek vengeance upon the gods. His minions have already begun to wreak havoc on Tamriel’s chapels, and something has to be done. But nothing can be done because the nine gods are powerless to act without a mortal champion who can find and wear Pelinal’s battle gear, known as the Relics of the Divine Crusader. Many have quested for the Relics. The Knights of the Nine were a holy order devoted to recovering and safekeeping the Relics of the Crusader, but they failed. Find the Divine Crusader’s relics, rebuild the order of the Knights of the Nine, and destroy Umaril once and for all.

Knights of the Nine (Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion Expansion).  Illustration copyrighted.

I’d like to discuss the content here, but you must understand something about Knights of the Nine: it takes place in Tamriel, the same place as the original Oblivion game. Any monsters or disturbing sights you may have witnessed there will also be here. Knights of the Nine does not “clean up” the sum total experience of Oblivion. But in the six hours it took me to complete this quest I encountered a much milder experience than what I saw in Oblivion. Within the confines of the Knights of the Nine quest, there are NOT heads impaled on spikes or dripping corpses suspended from chains or chantings of cult worshipers as there were in the original game. It’s a good change.

When you download Knights of the Nine to your hard drive the new content is actually LESS offensive than what’s in the original game. For example, the player need not commit any violence against human beings. You can complete the entire quest without harming a single one. It’s difficult, since some of them will want to hurt you, but I did it simply by slinking into the shadows and slipping past them. In one part of the quest, non-violence is actually rewarded. Still, you’ll bear witness to some disturbing sights. Your first clue to Umaril’s re-emergence is an attack in the Anvil chapel. You walk in to view the aftermath– blood splatters the sanctuary floor and windows, and worshipers lie murdered all around. You’ll also venture into a dungeon that was clearly used as a torture chamber at one time long ago, though this time we’re spared the gory details.

Knights of the Nine (Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion Expansion).  Illustration copyrighted.

While engaged in battle, your knights occasionally shout, “Die, d*** you!”

Knights of the Nine clearly gets some of its influence from the pages of the Bible. In some ways, it’s a parable for certain teachings of Scripture. For instance, when the Prophet character warns, “The Eight created the Relics to withstand Umaril’s fell power. Do not attempt to face him without this divine protection,” I was reminded of the Ephesians 6 command to put on the full armor of God. Your fellow knights find your lifeless body and lay it to rest, only to have their faith later strengthened by your subsequent resurrection. There is also some encouragement to “let your faith guide you” and at one point the gameplay actually tests your faith in a tangible way. On the other hand, much of the spiritual content is based on man’s earning his right to stand before God (or in this case “the Nine” gods). For example, the original Knights of the Nine are held in a purgatory state and cannot go to heaven until you achieve what they could not. To gain the favor of the gods you must first make a wilderness pilgrimage to each of the gods’ Wayshrines and pray to that god. “Praying” involves pushing a button at an altar. No actual prayers are uttered. At the end of this journey a message pops up: “Rejoice! You’ve completed the Pilgrimage of the Nine Wayshrines, and your sins have been washed clean!” Then, there are the more pagan aspects of the story, such as the fact that you are serving no less than nine gods. True, they are imaginary gods invented by for the sake of having a story in this game, but in the context of the game these gods are real. Your character also has visions and conversations with the ghosts of the Knights.

Your quest takes you deep into a woodland grotto wherein live the Spriggan– nude tree women. They don’t talk. They don’t even move. They only stand there, giggling. But they’re naked, except for the bark on their bodies. I thought I should mention it.

The original Knights philosophize over the eternal value of a soul. One nearly quotes Jesus in a variation of His teaching: “What good does it do a man to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul?” Life (and purgatory) has taught them humility, and they urge the player to walk in humility, wisdom, faith, and compassion. Say the fallen Knights, “I wish to see you succeed where I failed.” In a particularly Christlike sacrifice of self, you take another man’s curse upon yourself so as to save him from otherwise certain doom. The man runs around the room laughing and celebrating his release. A self-preserving priest is touched by your compassion and realizes faith without works is meaningless. He devotes the rest of his life to your cause, as does a knight you rescue from the dungeons. It’s really cool to see all these men leaving their old lives and coming together to devote themselves to helping others.

Knights of the Nine (Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion Expansion).  Illustration copyrighted.

After enduring the horrific wastes of Oblivion and the disturbing Shivering Isles, it felt good to go on a quest that didn’t try to shock me or gross me out. Knights of the Nine may seem more run-of-the-mill compared to your hero’s other adventures, but the expansion distinguishes itself by the quality of its heroes. Bravery, honor, and redemption. What a knightly quest this is.

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Year of Release — 2006

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Answers Network.

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