Do you ever get tired of old PC gamers like me telling you how amazing ’90s games like Thief: The Dark Project or Ultima Underworld were? Have you tried picking one up, say, on GoG but never managed to get into it because of the outdated graphics and interfaces? That, my friend, is just one of many reasons you should Kickstart Underworld Ascendant .
Like rats bailing out of a sinking ship, old-school PC developers have recently been swarming out of mobile development hell, grasping onto crowdfunding in hopes they’ll be able to make the kinds of games they love again. I’ve seen many of these projects fail, usually due to poor planning and PR, but this group… this group is special.
Underworld Ascendant is a spiritual successor to Ultima Underworld by many of the same people who made those games in the first place. Heard of LookingGlass Studios? The folks who not only made UU , but Thief: the Dark Project and System Shock ? These games were not only tremendous in their own right, they helped inspire many of our later favorites like Deus Ex , Bioshock , and any sandbox RPG or action adventure you can name.
So if you’re looking for a game that remembers the best parts from the good ol’ days, but also wants to move forward with modern design elements, this is the team I trust to do it. Getting the gang from LookingGlass (minus Ken Levine, who is off doing his own thing) back together has been a pipe dream for those of us who loved their original creations. Trust me, we want to see what these folks come up with.
But forget who’s making it for a moment. What’s Underworld Ascendant all about? It’s a free-roaming dungeon crawler (as opposed to a step-by-step “gridder” like Legend of Grimrock ) that distinguishes itself from the rest by creating not just a dungeon, but an entire underground civilization. You’ll get to interact with fantasy races like dark elves and mushroom men, and they’ll want you to take sides in their conflicts. Your decisions here won’t just change the game’s story or ending, they’ll change the world around you.
Even smaller puzzles in Underworld Ascendant will have multiple solutions and reward clever or creative players. You’ll be able to do things like flood areas, cut down rope bridges (and then have to figure out how to get back to the other side of the bridge later on), and find ways to get the local beasts to do your bidding. The class system is flexible, as is the rune-based magic system, giving players the ability to shape characters and their skillsets to their liking.
These types of claims are somewhat common among over-ambitious Kickstarter games, but the difference is that the Underworld Ascendant team can actually pull them off. They’ve done it before with far more primitive engines, so imagine what they can do with today’s technology at their disposal? If you’ve ever loved living world, open-world, sandbox, etc. gaming, you owe it to yourself to check out this Kickstarter. It’s got a bit over a week left and is near its goal, but it’d be great if enough gamers came out to meet some of the stretch goals, too.
I don’t go around recommending Kickstarters left and right, but with Underworld Ascendant there’s even more at stake than a single game. There’s an entire group of amazing designers here who are back together after more than a decade. If their new studio, OtherSide Entertainment, can get off the ground, they can do more than make this great-sounding game. They can once again change the course of the game industry for the better. Go check ’em out.