The Sundered Keep is a large quest mod that will take you to various locations all over Cyrodiil: ranging from the swamps of Blackwood, to the depths of the earth all the way to the Sea of Ghosts. Travel to the long-lost city of Witherstone to prevent an ancient god from gaining from a foothold on the mortal realm.
When you begin this mod, you will get a quest update stating that you feel someone is looking for you. I found this quest update to be misleading because you actually have to go and find the messenger to truly begin the quest. Rather than waiting for whomever is searching for you to locate you which is what I had assumed. Once you read the note, it tells you to go find the lady whom will be your quest-giver. However, there is no real point of going off to find the tower because you are already there. Kind of surprising to see a tower materializing out of nowhere.
I was a little concerned at first when the initial beginning quests were fetching quests. Once you reach the underground pirate city however, things take a quick and sudden dramatic turn. The fights against pirates were well-planned where you do not get an easy break from the fights but you are not overwhelmed by the pirates attacking you. I do like that there is more than one pirate crew hanging out in the pirate city. With more than one pirate captain. I do think there is a pirate captain that is missing since there is a captain for one crew, a second captain for another pirate crew and finally a boss leading the mercenary crew. Perhaps the pirate captain you meet the first time, is the overall leader of all the pirates that you encounter in the city. Explaining the missing captain for one of the pirate crews.
The custom pirate clothing and rapier was great. I loved how the rapier looked overall, rather simple yet elegant at the same time. The pirate clothing was very typical of pirate apparel complete with a quirky looking pirate hat, would not expect anything different. However there is a bug that occurs when trying to wear the pirate clothing. I am unsure whether it is with the jacket or the breeches, however it seems it is not compatible with non-beast races or vanilla skeletons. Unless you have a compatibility/replacement skeleton, the pirate clothing may clip or fly around all over the place. Or you will have this never-ending texture flying out of the end of your backside. It is a known bug that doesn’t seem to be fully addressed but it does not apply to every single person who has played this mod. I did manage to wear the pirate gear without any issues till I reloaded my save, then I had the weird never-ending tail coat issue.
The custom music was great, it added a lot to the experience of the mod. Especially the atmosphere when approaching the ruined city of Witherstone. The music is a little loud but that can be easily adjusted in the settings. With the combination of the music with the great lighting makes the whole experience of going through the city and castle of Witherstone into quite an experience.
The new enemies that were added had an interesting design. I liked the variation of the enemies especially the shadow/nightmare creatures. They were quite a sight, startled the hell out of me for a moment there. Wasn’t prepared to be greeted by six phantom horrors immediately as soon the rock wall was broken down. I loved the statues the best, since you never know when you will be attacked by the statues. It can be predicted if you are using a life-detect spell but it ruins the whole tension that is set up by the lighting, music and unpredictably of when the next attack will occur. Using torches will be a great idea for this mod since there are many dark areas throughout the mod. Since I am using a mod that makes all dungeon areas extremely dark, a torch did not provide enough light for me to see so I had to use a light spell (then eventually the grand ring of light so I did not need to constantly cast the light spell). Mostly so I can actually see where I was going since becomes frustrating and annoying walking in the darkness, then suddenly realize you have died because you didn’t see a ledge or a pit of doom. Enjoyed the mini-boss fights since that is something I do not see often in mods, the mini-bosses all had the same design which was disappointing. I did hope for variation in the mini-boss designs. This also applies to the weapons that the mini-boos and main boss used which was basically the same axe design (which reminded me of Silent Hill for some reason) with just different names, I am not sure if there were different enchantments if any since I have not checked that for myself yet.
The whole betrayal scene towards the end of the mod was brilliant. While some might say it was predictable, I did not really predict the betrayal although a part of me was not surprised by it. I did find it hilarious how the god did kill the one who summoned it into the mortal realm. I personally felt the best part of the entire quest mod other than the pirate city, was entering into the six memory shards to weaken the ancient god. I particularly enjoyed that. The whole warping tunnel thing was a brilliant touch, I was pleasantly surprised by that. Little disconcerting of how it looks like you are going through an intestine though due to the flesh-like appearance. Do note that the memory sequence involving the six ayleid summoners has a bug where the fourth wave, the enemies do not attack the summoners due to being too far away to register there are npcs to attack. This is easily fixed by going near where they spawned and attacking them there.
This mod is not particularly friendly to those who use stealth such as myself, since I do sneak around and use a chameleon spell. The reason for this is because the enemies will detect you even if you are completely hidden and use 100% chameleon, although they will be unable to detect if you back up a little distance. They are only able to detect you without fail when you are in close proximity or right in front of the enemy. Especially when you encounter the cursed citizens of the city, since they will approach right up to you but not attack you (when you are completely undetected). This seems to be an issue with the scripting itself but is not quest-breaking and there is no indication of the issue being addressed.
I particularly didn’t understand why wraiths would be everywhere when you exit the ruined city into the pirate city. I was little saddened that the pirate city was buried forever so you cannot go back to explore the underground city, or say hi to your pirate buddies. I also noticed that enemies re-spawned alarmingly quickly in areas that you already visited recently such as the study of the sorceress.
I have to admit I was upset that I did not get to loot the castle. I was really hoping to see lost artifacts that was possibly related to a god-like being. However, having a player-home that you can literally spawn anywhere in the world was a really neat and fitting reward. The interior design was great. I had the impression of the tower being extremely small but it was large enough to give room that felt comfortable and not so enclosed. Very comfortable and filled with all the items that one would expect for a mage tower. I did enjoy the two pedestals that had two orbs, one that provided healing and the other that allowed you to repair your items (only once a day). As well providing the armor and clothing that you could not loot off the enemies. Except you could not replace the fallen solider armor back on the armor stand. Other than that issue, the tower is amazing with its unique design both exterior and interior wise.
The Sundered Keep is a mod that I highly recommend if you are looking for a unique player-home reward and a challenging quest-adventure that is filled with travelling to various locations and combat with unique enemies. Not many issues encountered other than the known bug. I did forget to mention this earlier but I did notice a texture or mesh problem, I am not entirely sure where some of the ruined walls turned grey when you looked at it, but appeared fine when you looked towards the floor. Not the best explanation but it didn’t bother me since I was rushing through the area, just thought I would mention that though. You can download this mod from either Oblivion Nexus or TES Alliance. However the versions on the two sites are different, the Oblivion Nexus seems to have the updated version compared to the TES Alliance site. Be sure to read the description page to make sure you meet the requirements that the mod has (mainly OBSE and the silent voice).