The playable world of the Ancient’s Gates is huge and offers lots of variety; you will explore tombs, visit strange and mystical lands and much more. One thing I noticed though was there was a large change of weather and environment in such a short space which seemed unrealistic; the developers seem to have overlooked this. Anyway, this aside Ill try and come up with a good description of each area of the game gathered from the script and the back stories of both the PC and PS2 games.
Surdana – The first level you will play and it serves as your ‘hometown’ during the course of the game. The city has a blacksmith, magic emporium and an alchemist from which you can buy just about anything you need and you will return to this level a lot as you play through the game.
Situated on the great central continent and almost surrounded by mountains, Surdana is one of the few remaining human cities that were once plentiful in the world. The Surdana district is home to Humans, Blackwings, Scavengers, Grull and Wartocks due to its lush green valleys and mountains making ideal environments for each species. Weather here ranges from cold winters to warm summers and its roughly early spring when the game takes place.
Rynn’s village is situated a good thirty miles away and six centuries ago the same village once was the hometown of Heron and his dragon Arokh – the reason behind Surdana’s survival. It is said that if it was not for Heron and Arokh, Surdana would have been destroyed long ago in the Dark Wars. The Surdana district is where the last remnants of the Order retreated to and from where they planned their last stand against Navaros. However, the battlefield where the final stand took place was at the foot of Mount Tibor on the border of the Dark Union’s lands.
Shadowmire – a cold, damp and very smelly swamp which lies near the city of Surdana. The entire swamp is partly underground the only daylight coming through small cracks in the ceiling of the underground caverns. A thick malevolent fog hangs eerily in the air and the place is populated by Trogs – not an ideal place for a human.
City of the Dammed (optional) – This level is available only in the Kossa Vole sidequest and consists of a strange alternate world made up of floating islands created by arcane magic. The snow covered entrance to this strange realm is situated at the northern end of the valley in which Surdana City lies. The city of the Dammed is destroyed once you complete the sidequest and you cannot return.
Kragmoor (optional) – A lush, green valley that runs parallel to Surdana and is the home of a Wartock tribe who are the main threat to the people of Surdana. Again, like the City of the Dammed, this area is only available in a sidequest and is often missed.
The Andrellian Isles – A set of Islands a mile or two off the coast near Surdana, the islands are beset by a magical storm trapping anything that lands on the shores. Here driving rain and heavy winds make up the weather making it a rather unpleasant place. A volcano can also be found here, in fact the entire region has had a long history of volcanic activity and this is a very hostile place. You will visit the volcano in a sidequest.
The Northlands – Situated some fifty or so miles from Surdana at the other side of the sea, the northlands consists of three levels; Ravenshold, Northern Tundra and Shiverbane. All are rocky, mountainous terrain covered in snow and ice and are the home of the Northmen, Wartocks and Halfmen. These levels are some of the largest and offer a wide variety of places to explore and you will spend the majority of the game here. Ravenshold city is your central safe area in these lands and here you will find help from the townspeople and shops from which to buy items.
The Valley of the Fallen – The scene of a great battle between the Dark Union and the Order many centuries ago, the valley can be found at the other end of a tunnel cutting through the mountains at the far left of Surdana. Most of the valley is covered in sand and the Desert Lords have also artificially changed the climate to suit them – it is very hot here and rain hasn’t fallen for years. In the other half of the valley, towards Surdana, the air is much cooler as it is on the outer edges of the lands affected by the climate spell. A small group of farmers live here and will offer assistance if you stop by and help one of them. Further up the valley in the desert is the Sanguinade (pronounced san-gwin-arde) meaning the walk of blood – an ancient structure that once belonged to the Dark Union and now the Desert Lords have renovated part of it and are using its powers to try and stop you.
Stratos – The final area of the game, Stratos is similar to the City of the Dammed; it consists of a set of floating islands brought up from the desert below suspended high in the sky by some magical force. Even its weather is controlled artificially, here it is hot and humid and has a tropical appearance quite unlike the colder lands down below. The Desert Lord’s structures and buildings have a typical middle eastern appearance to them; some of the buildings you visit wouldn’t look out of place in India.