This section relates to the articles I've found regarding the "Below the Root" game. There are not very many currently, but I hope there may be more as awareness of this classic gaming masterpiece spreads.
"Below the Root" was voted one of Online Gaming Review's Top 50 Games of All-Time. To see the list, go here.
The game was also mentioned in Gamecenter.com's article "The Babe's the Thing" which offered a history of women in games, citing "Below the Root" as the first time women were given a true representation in games. Go here to read up on it, and three cheers for Pomma and Genaa!:)
I wanted to dedicate a section of this page to my views alone, just so I could offer my own two cents' worth about this wonderful game. Biased, you say? Nah. It's just the single most important game that I've ever played.
You see, I was bought a copy of "Below the Root" by my parents, and my best friend at the time (age 6 or so) also had a copy. We'd compare progress in the quest, and in fact both of us never really got very far, but we did have fun playing the game, simply for its depth and beauty. And then she moved away, and I moved again too, several times, and our computers were gradually upgraded and changed out, until I could no longer play my copy of "Below the Root" and I was rather depressed at that fact.
A few years later...twelve, to be precise...I found that a ROM did exist of the game, and that emulators existed for its various systems as well, so I went and got them and played it, recapturing the original wonder and delight of Green-Sky. And, after twelve days of questing, I finished the game. It had really taken me twelve years. Twelve years of waiting, twelve days of questing. Coincidence? I think not.
Anyway, this is easily my favorite game in existence. Sure, I love other games and I think that there are ones that others may think are "technologically superior" nowadays, but not a single one comes close to "Below the Root" for its revolutionary graphics, character selection, and other options that made it so great, and far ahead of its time: not only could you choose from five different characters, but they all had individual strengths and weaknesses, as well as different responses from the people of Green-Sky, adding not only realistic character but also immense replay value and challenge to every separate game played. Also, there were different ending messages to get depending on how long it took you to finish, and there was a sprawling underground world, at least as large as the one above ground, that I still have yet to explore fully.
My view on this game is one that puts "Below the Root" at the very top of adventure games because of its beautiful graphics, incredible story (written by the author of the original trilogy that introduced the characters and setting, no less), and challenging gameplay that made other games at the time pale in comparison to "Below the Root"'s eloquence and development. Zilpha Keatley Snyder and Dale Disharoon, I bow to your superior skills at game making, and I praise this work of art, this masterpiece that is "Below the Root" and more than worthy of being the final chapter of the Green-Sky saga. Thank you for all that you've done for us.
This document contains many spoilers for the game and also many for the Green-Sky Trilogy series of books by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. If you haven't finished the trilogy yet, or if you want to be surprised about the game, please don't read on because it will only cause your surprise to be spoiled. Thank you.Sections
Since Neric is my favorite character to use, I've written this walkthrough using Neric throughout; he is the one I recommend to use for your first venture into the world of Green-Sky, because not only is he strong and spirit-gifted, he is also a Kindar and Ol-Zhaan, which means that he will be able to benefit from the generosity of most Kindar homes; unfortunately this means that some Erdling homes may turn him away, but this is rare even in Neric's case.
I would advise against using Genaa or an Erdling your first time out; as it is, I have yet to finish the game with Genaa, and being an Erdling will only make the game more difficult, and you don't want that on your first time!:) The Beginning
Neric begins in his own nid-place on the Star Grund, next to the Temple Grunds and just above the Star Grund shops, an ideal place to begin a quest. Be sure to collect the shuba, fruit and nuts, and three tokens that are in your nid-place before leaving. You can climb or glide down, but either way there is no chance to gain ingress to the Temple Grunds at this point. Simply ignore them for the time being and head to the west.
On the Silk Grund, you can climb up and get a token or two (I would advise climbing up also at this point, because sometimes followers of D'ol Salaat, coined "Salites" in the instruction manual, and Nekom will attack you if you remain on the bottom path), as well as cross to the Grand Grund.
The First Spirit Teacher
Once on the Grand Grund, you must prepare yourself to find the first spirit teacher, the hermit of Grand Grund. However, you must first go farther west to the Broad Grund and the shops there to get a trencher beak; you can also do this by climbing high and making your way across the high paths back to the Star Grund and gliding down, but be careful, because Nekom sometimes gather at the path just above your nid-place, where you need to glide down to the sima and trencher beak. In any case, you must have a beak before trying to find the hermit.
Once you have this, make your way up Grand Grund. It is not particularly easy to find your way and time your jumps correctly, so save often and at places where you think it may be difficult to make the jump exactly. Watch out for spiders and snakes, as they will make your jumps that much more difficult.
Once you've reached the hermit's house, cut through the Wissenvine with the trencher beak and go inside to hear the hermit's speech. You'll receive the first vision and you will now be able to pense messages, so return to the outer world and cut back through the vine; if you're unable, simply renew, but be warned that one day passes for every renew, and you're on a time limit.
The Second Spirit Teacher
Now you go west again after you've climbed a little bit down, and simply follow the path until you reach the Garden Grunds, in specific the Garden. To the right of the Garden will be a platform with a strange-looking building, but you'll want to go to the right of it and climb up a vine until you see branch platforms leading to an even farther-up house. When you enter, you'll find the child of the Garden, who will raise your spirit skills yet again, enabling you now to heal yourself in times of trouble, and you will receive the second vision.
While you're still on the Garden Grunds, go back toward the Garden and then descend to where the vine begins to go down. Do not climb down, but instead leap off the right side of that platform and glide to the far right, timing it so you land on the platform with the lapan. Pense when he is still and facing you, and your spirit skill will again increase. Then jump to the left and collect the wissenberries, and continue left to climb back up to the Garden and continue west; if you fall, don't worry, because you'll just glide to the floor and you'll have a chance to climb back up.
The Third Spirit Teacher
Return to the Garden and go west from there, making sure to get the vine rope just before the vine down to the Sky Grund. Descend and go west again, or simply glide down to the branch and to the far left, avoiding the spider. Continue west until you reach the central platform, and then you will most likely need to ascend; try going west a few times until you reach the end of a branch, and remember to pense any suspicious-looking strangers, because you don't want to get attacked by the Salites or kidnapped by the Nekom at this point.
If you're able, go to the end of the branch just above the lapan and glide down to it, raising your spirit skills again. Then continue up as far as the vines will take you and go west, fall through the branch and glide right, then jump over the gap and pense with the sima and increase your skills once more. Return to the vine or glide down and climb up the vine again, then continue over the gap and up the branch, jumping up to the rightmost end of it. Use the vine rope here and make sure to crawl as you cross, or else you'll simply fall through and hurt yourself.
A note here: if you want to get the elixir here, make sure you have multiple vine ropes. You can get up to four on the Sky Grund, so they're certainly not rare.
Continue up the grund until you reach the place where you need to be, which will be a nid-place at the very top left of the Sky Grund. Go inside and rest for a short time, then exit the nid-place and you will emerge in the sky and D'ol Nesh-om will give you the third vision, as well as the Spirit Bell, which will come into play much later in the game. Not least of all, your spirit skills will once again increase, and now you will be able to grunspreke. This will eventually lead to your admission to the Temple Grunds, but not yet. Have patience, for the moment will soon arrive.
To exit the sky, return into the nid-place and then leave it again. That should be enough to get you back to the Sky Grund as you prepare to glide to the Temple Grunds so that you can gain another spirit skill point and D'ol Falla's key. However, before you leave the Sky Grund, you should most likely go back a short distance and glide down at the rightmost tip to the branch below that has a lapan on it. Pense with the lapan and gain another spirit skill point, then just glide down to the next branch.
The Next Step: Temple Grunds
You should now return to your own house, and you can do this by either renewing (remember, it takes one day to do this) or by walking there (remember to heal and eat along the way, you can find many houses that will give you bread and fruit, but see the cautions at the end regarding roast lapan.) On the way, if you walk, you'll want to go to the high paths and make your way along them so that you can glide down to the sima just to the left of your nid-place if you haven't already done so, but make sure you avoid the Nekom. Once you arrive home, you might want to rest up a bit in your nid, then go to the right, the very end of the branch, and grunspreke to the end of the screen. After that, jump off and as quickly as possible, glide down to the right. If you've done it correctly, you should now be well on your way to the Temple Grunds.
At the Temple Grunds, what you'll most likely want to do is go straight to the Vine Palace and talk with D'ol Falla; she'll give you permission to find her key, which you'll be able to find shortly thereafter and then return to open the Chamber of the Forgotten.
You won't be able to receive more spirit skill power from her, strangely enough, but now that you have permission to get the key, you should probably go get it; however, first, you need to climb the Temple Grunds to the very top and left, across the two spider-infested platform gaps (and do get the elixir on the way), then glide down and go in the small hole to find the key to the Temple Grunds. No more grunspreke-sneaking in for you!:)
Tying It All Together Above the Root
Now that you're on the last leg of your adventure (above the root in any case), first you should take off flying from the farthest-right you can get in the Temple Grunds, so that you're able to reach the lake between the Sky Grund and the Temple Grunds if you are to go down to the floor. There is also a sima on this particular grund, so you'll want to pense with him by gliding down to his platform (this is the rightmost Temple Grund.) After this, go to the west until you see an elevated vine and a few platforms with a vine rope at the top. Time your jumps so that you reach the top, and remember that your standing position on the platforms is very important. Sometimes you have to stand on the very last inch of the platform, sometimes the very first. Remember this when jumping onto the vine itself and also when jumping while on the vine.
When you reach the branch at the top of the vine, go to the farthest right you can go (it might even help to try and grunspreke a bit) and jump off, gliding to the far right. Remember, there are platforms in the middle of the grund that you could see on the way up; you want to time it so that you are able to land on them, which is possible. Go in the small cave (just like above with the Temple Key) and retrieve D'ol Falla's key. Now you'll need to renew unless you've already got the Wand of Befal.
Go into the Temple Grunds again and head past the vine palace, to the right and up the vine. Go inside the small building that seems to be attached to the vine palace and talk to the woman if you wish, then unlock the two doors and you will find yourself in the Chamber of the Forgotten. Collect the Spirit Lamp and then leave; it's now time for you to go below the root for the first time.
Below the Root
First you'll need to get over to the Sky Grund, and on the way you might want to stop by Upper Erd, under Broad Grund, to get an extra shuba; trust me, you'll need it later. After you've reached Sky Grund, collect Wissenberries if you haven't already and glide down to the ground just beside the grund. Go west (if you see the water, you've gone too far) until you find the entrance to a cave where a guard paces back and forth. This is the entrance to the realm below the root, Lower Erd. You must offer the guard Wissenberries to get past, so do that and descend farther. Then offer the second guard a token and continue underneath the root.
At the second ladder, go down, then follow the next ladder down but beware of the spider. Continue right past two ladders, then go down again, right, down the large ladder, right over the bridge (and look out for this spider too), and up the ladder that you come to.
If you wish to crawl through the gap, you can get three tokens and an elixir here, but if you've explored enough in Orbora, you won't need them. Next, go up the ladder and right; you'll fall down an invisible pit. Go left from here, down the ladder, and then enter the green door you'll come to when you head right. Here you'll meet Vatar, the final Spirit Teacher, and learn to kiniport your body.
From here there are two options.
The first one is to continue on and rescue Raamo, which is something that you are probably pretty likely to do if this is your first time playing.:) To do this you'll need to exit Vatar's cavern, going out the green door again, and go right, up the ladder, right again, and then you'll find yourself at the Bottomless Lake; don't be tempted to dive in, or else you'll find yourself all the way back home, and that's certainly not what you want.
Instead, jump up to the ladder and climb up (and it is possible; if you are frustrated, just kiniport yourself up, but remember to conserve over 10 spirit points) and go to the right, then down the ladder. Here you'll find a snake and two tokens, but at this point in the game they're hardly important. Continue down, and down the next ladder, then go right until the Spirit Bell rings; this signifies the presence of a door.
Go in and left, pense with the lapan if you wish, and then go up the stairs and up the ladder. Now you'll see Raamo, on the ledge to the far upper left. Now you need to kiniport over to him and offer him your extra shuba, for which he will be extremely grateful. It is here that the game ends.
The second option is to return to Orbora and visit Raamo's mother, which will gain you more spirit skill points and also add an interesting encounter to the game. To do this, you have to return to the Temple Grunds and enter the temple, then kiniport yourself beyond the locked doors and walls that prohibit your free exploration there. Climb up to the very top and talk to Hearba, and you might want to also talk to the child here (Teera?) to get some more information. Even though Hearba tells you something you already know, you can pense a message from her that she is sure that Raamo lives, and you can certainly use extra spirit skill power as well. From here you might wish to return to Lower Erd or perhaps find the Wand of Befal and explore further. Either way, you've won, so be happy!:)
Odds and Ends
There are just a few other things I'd like to address in the space left in this text. First, there is another Below the Root walkthrough that has been written, but I don't consider it to be particularly thorough, although it is certainly helpful if you just want a bare bones outline to get through it. You can get it here.
Also, addressing the issue of the Wand of Befal and being kidnapped by the Nekom: you can get the Wand without being kidnapped. The house in which it rests is below the Star Grund, and you can get there with multiple trencher beaks, kiniporting yourself, or a shuba and luck.:) However, if you want the easy way there, get kidnapped by the Nekom. They appear all over Green-Sky, and the closest they come is right above your nid-place on the branch platforms before the small house where you can get food. Also, there are other groups that are loose in Green-Sky that will kidnap you, so don't think that every hostile person is Nekom, because they may be a follower of D'ol Salaat or D'ol Regle (I believe...correct me if I'm wrong) and if you are kidnapped by one of those, all you can get is an elixir. One last note: if you are kidnapped by them and want to get the elixir or wand, you have to have at least enough spirit power to be able to kiniport objects, or else you can't get the objects through the locked door.
Other points to make...be conscious of your status and make sure that you're not about to drop from lack of rest or food. I know I haven't emphasized the locations of food in the game, but if you explore enough, you'll find quite enough food to eat and won't have to spend a single token. Also, Kindar should beware of roast lapan, because it will totally deplete their entire spirit skill reserve. It doesn't matter how many points you have, they will be gone for the time being, requiring you to either extensively rest or just renew. Not worth the hassle.
If you're frustrated by the seemingly inconsistent pace at which your character walks, it's just that they will walk much faster after you jump. They walk at normal speed otherwise.
There are plenty of other ways to finish the game, also; in fact, I'd recommend going around Green-Sky once more after you've gained the Kiniport Self ability from Vatar, because there are so many things you can do and places you can access easily with that particular ability. Don't worry about getting back below the root, because tokens you have abundance of and wissenberries are everywhere. To date I've counted one bunch on the Grand Grund, one on the Broad Grund, and one each to the Sky and Temple Grunds, so don't worry about running out.
Above all, have fun! That's what the game's there for. I hope you enjoy it.