Rampant Games' Jay Barnson has taken some time to fire up the Exult emulator and revisit Serpent Isle, the second half of Origin's excellent Ultima VII compilation.
The lack of feedback in the interface is also painful. This game also came from an era where you were expected to play the game with the manual off to the side. Otherwise, there's no way to tell whether a mace or two-handed sword is the better weapon. There is no description of items beyond a one-word name and a low-resolution picture.
On the other hand, storyline, characters, and dialogs have been good. It's tough to call them (great) and compare them to modern characters and dialog. But I really do like the keyword interface of the Ultimas. I still end up exhausting the entire conversation tree, but it does feel like I have more control over the conversation than in conventional dialog trees of today. And especially over the limited canned dialog of today.
I love how you can click on just about anything in the game and see its name. It's especially cool that this is how you detect a secret door. Walls are normally named (wall) but a secret door or illusionary wall is a capitalized (Wall.) And again, it may be more of a problem with the emulator than the original game, but I found that a couple of the combats were nearly impossible unless you took advantage of the terrain leading the cyclops into the hallway with all the fireball traps.