Underworld Ascendant is an upcoming first-person action role-playing game. It’s the third part of the legendary Ultima Underworld series and focuses on your creativity.
For most people, the Doom, published in 1993, is considered the origin of 3D graphics. Id Software’s first-person shooter launched a technology revolution and set standards that still apply today. But many of these laurels are due to Ultima Underworld. Released in 1992, the role-playing game also had 3D levels and had players explore catacombs and fantasy worlds.
After the second part published only one year later, however, nothing followed for a long time. The original developer Looking Glass dissolved in 2000, and the Ultima Underworld license became dusty in the archives of Electronic Arts. However, this should have changed a few years ago. Part of the former Looking Glass Studios joined forces to form OtherSide Entertainment. Subsequently, Electronic Arts purchased the license rights to Ultima Underworld and finally financed the development of Underworld Ascendant with a Kickstarter campaign.
At the lineup event of Publisher 505 Games, the role-playing game was already playable in an early alpha version. According to official data, “Underworld Ascendant” will be released for PC in 2018, but we expect the game to come in 2019. OtherSide Entertainment combines the classic with many modern ideas in this action adventure. No wonder we’re walking through a completely redesigned version of the first section of Ultima Underworld at the almost 40-minute introductory level.
Physics Provides Fun
Underworld Ascendant takes you into the world of Stygian Abyss, a fantasy realm full of danger and adventure. The first section serves not surprisingly as a tutorial in game mechanics. OtherSide Entertainment is tinkering with a complex role-playing game that gives you a lot of playful freedom and, above all, doesn’t take you by the hand too much.
The basis for this game mechanics is a sophisticated physics model on which you can manipulate or use almost all objects. Shortly after the start, we find ourselves in a large room. On the wall hang some torches, in front of it there are barrels and a little straw. However, the exit doors are locked. So what to do? You could now penetrate the door with bare fists until it opens. But much wiser is the following variant. You ignite one of the barrels with the torch and put the burning pile in front of the gate. This finally catches fire and destroys the wood.
There are countless ways to solve puzzles in the game. Elsewhere, for example, throw a bottle at a far away lever and flip it over. At the same time, however, the physics model occasionally represents an obstacle. For example, you cannot lift objects that are too heavy. Underworld Ascendant explains little, but instead invites to experiments. It often takes several attempts to solve specific tasks. But that’s part of it.
Cutting off Old Roller Play Plaits
Apart from that, Underworld Ascendant is strongly reminiscent of current sneak games such as Dishonored 2 or Thief. So violence is an option, but not always the best alternative. In the rehearsal level, for example, you will only find a broken sword. Who now thinks that he can kill an opponent without problems, as long as he attacks him from behind, is wrong. Those attacks do more damage. But the emerging skeleton guards grin tiredly at the broken weapon. Instead, the role play promotes the discussion of the conditions and possibilities in the respective areas.
At the same time, modern elements such as a system of experience or even the “grinding-up” of abilities by killing opponents are dispensed. Instead, the talent system supports your way of playing. If your opponent avoids you by acrobatics and climbs through the levels, you may activate the Wall Run. If you use close combat or even bows and arrows, you will get additional maneuvers on these tools. On the other hand, try yourself more often as a thief. You will learn how to crack the lock and from now on you will not need a lockpick.
The Glowing Magic Wand
Of all these possibilities you won’t feel much on the first level, and yet you will soon notice that in Underworld Ascendant you’ll be looking for cerebral lard in particular. For example, you will discover water arrows that you can use to extinguish torches and other light sources. Standard steel-tipped projectiles are suitable for direct firing or even for smaller tricks. In the first section, use arrows to shoot ropes and drop chandeliers onto the skeletons.
Basically, the better you observe your surroundings, the less trouble you’ll get. There are no perfect memory points. Instead, you plant small trees in the surroundings and set the corresponding to respawn points yourself. But besides these traditional stealth ingredients, magic also plays an important role. As you progress, you will find and swing wands with varying abilities. In the beginning, you should balance over a rotating log. Of course, this will not work without support. With the right wand, you stop the trunk and then get to the other side without any problems.
During the time, for example, you will discover fire spells and use them to ignite surfaces and objects. Magic, stealth, and combat are the cornerstones of Underworld Ascendant, and the rest is up to your creativity and spirit of discovery.
Admittedly, the presented alpha version of Underworld Ascendant still had huge corners and edges. Both technically and playfully, OtherSide Entertainment still has a lot of work to do. Nevertheless, we recognize where the journey should go. Underworld Ascendant will be an old-school role-playing game with a modern touch. Especially the partly colorful-creative graphic style stands out at first sight.
And then, of course, there are the many freedoms that the game offers. Already in the 40-minute demo, the program inspires with its extensive areas, the many useful objects, and the impressive physics model. The role-playing game sometimes feels like a linear sandbox that you can shape according to your wishes. After all, your actions should have a direct influence on the missions and the course of the game. Underworld Ascendant is an exciting insider tip for all friends of complex role-playing games. Keep an eye on it!