Descent Veterans Kickstarting Basically Descent 4

Remember that Descent game Kickstarted by people by who didn’t make Descent? Here’s an unofficial Descent remakequel Kickstarted by people who did make Descent.

If Descent was on your Kickstarted comeback bingo card, then today’s the day to wave your pen in the air. Mike Kulas and Matt Toschlog, lead creators of the 1990s’ beloved six-degrees of freedom spaceshippy FPS, have gotten the band back together for a comeback named Overload. You wanted Descent with sparkly 2016 graphics? You’re gonna get it. Well, if you and your fellow retronauts can put $300k together.

Of course, this isn’t the first or only Descent comeback. Another studio, none of whose staff had ever worked on a Descent game, recently licensed the name from the mysterious creature which currently calls itself ‘Interplay’ for the multiplayer-focused Descent Underground, currently on Steam Early Access. This one, by contrast, is both singleplayer and has its original creators behind it, even if they don’t have the name.

Overload isn’t just a shot in the dark / gosh weren’t the olden days jolly Kickstarter – they do have a working prototype, which is on-show in this here trailer. Speed and movement and robo-bothering seem all present and correct, as does something of a period soundtrack.

There’s also a pitch video of course, which features extra footage and discussion of their design intentions in addition to waxing lyrical about how ground-breaking the omni-directional combat of Descent was in an age of earth-bound corridor-shooters.

After Descent devs Parallax Software wound down in 1997, Mike Kulas headed off to form Freespace, Red Faction and Saints Row dev Volition and Matt Toschlog founded Descent 3 studio Outrage, both of which ended up being owned by THQ. While Volition at least lives on as part of Deep Silver, Kulas and Toschlog have reunited for a new venture, Revival Productions.

“Overload is a game Matt Toschlog and I have talked about making for many years,” says Kulas in an email I received while I was off work and have yet to reply to. Sorry, chaps. “Even though my time at Volition had greater commercial success, my fondest industry memories are of creating Descent. We’ve always wanted to revisit that style of game.”

If they can raise $300k, they’ll go back to a well that I imagine quite a few RPS readers have long hoped would be plumbed again. Planned release date is roughly a year from now, and promised is a 15-level singleplayer campaign, a buncha weapons and enemies and, of course, six degrees of freedom movement. Revival note that joysticks are making something of a comeback – with Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen arguably leading that particular charge – so the time may well be right for Descent to arise once again.

$4k at the time of writing, 29 days to go.


  1. Godwhacker says:

    I loved Descent back in the day, but come on- give us new things please, not just pretty versions of old things

    • Blackcompany says:

      Agree completely. No more sequels, reboots, or “editions” please.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        There’s room for both. There’s always room for both.

    • Urthman says:

      Weird. I was going to say the exact opposite. Why can’t we get a Thief 5 (or Doom 4) that is as much like the original as this is like the original Descent?

      • GepardenK says:

        If they go back and make an actual Thief game with thief like mechanics (instead of putting it in the “patrolling maze” stealth genre like 4 did) then I will most likely cry

    • Sakshi_26 says:

      Hey,Descent is a nice game. I usually many online games like Poker, bridge, Indian Rummy and many more.

  2. Lars Westergren says:

    As a rule of thumb, if a Kickstarter has made a third of the total goal the first 1-2 days, they are safe. Another third comes in the last two days, and the rest trickle in the rest of the time.

  3. Psychomorph says:

    Zeep, you gonna back it?

    • zeep says:

      Lol not convinced yet but i am keeping an eye on it. Maybe in the last few days!

      Sublevel Zero for now is enough for the single player 6DOF itch.

      • Psychomorph says:


      • derbefrier says:

        Well that game completely passed me by. the rogue like parts kinda put me off of it but it is on sale and it does look pretty sweet………

  4. Grizzly says:

    … But will it have Shivans in it?

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yeah someone needs to do a FreeSpace 3 kickstarter. Maybe the HLP folks + Volition old timers.

  5. Kaeoschassis says:

    Yep. Was hoping something like this would happen. Some of the descent-likes we’ve seen are pretty great, but they’ve all gone in a very different direction from the classic Descent/2.
    It looks like they’re going to nail the visual style no problem (although I hope we’ll get plenty of variety in level styles, D2 in particular was great at that).
    My personal wishlist, though –

    A proper cockpit, because “Descent” always meant “borderline claustrophobia” to me as much as it did “Vertigo”.

    Decent enemy AI. This is a must – people tend to forget just how smart the ‘bots in the originals actually seemed.

    Good sound design. Again, I feel this is really important. The audio in classic Descent was fantastic. The laser blasts, the missile launches, the weird, distorted, almost animalistic noises the ‘bots made. Gold, solid gold.

    Anyway, we’ll see how the kickstarter goes but I’m hoping I can spare a few quid for this one. Definitely worth it.

  6. rumtotinggamer says:

    I’m confused, so this isn’t that Descent:Underground but an entirely new game based on Descent but isn’t called Descent, and they want over a quarter of a million quid by next month, forgive me but why not just pool in with the devs of the other game?.

    Meh anyway I liked Descent back in the 90s but I don’t touch anything kickstarter or early access, sorry about that.

    • Urthman says:

      Until I googled, I thought sure you were trying to make a Descent to Undermountain joke but getting the name wrong.

    • Holderist says:

      This confused me too, because I was sure that a Descent game was already in the works. If these guys are some of the original creators, then who are the other team?

      • RobF says:

        The other team is a bunch of folks who worked on other games and one dude who worked on Descent, if I remember rightly.

      • Cinek says:

        Yes, there is another descend in works – Descend: Underground. Difference is that the D:U bought IP rights for the original descend, so it’s a proper prequel. It’s also more focused on a multiplayer than the originals (that’s basically what they build now), a single player component will be developed after the multiplayer one, though to be clear: SP was also a goal in the campaign from the beginning.

        Oh, and they have over twice the budget for it than this game here hopes to get, so naturally – feature-wise it’s far richer game (eg. D:U will have a destructible terrain, O. won’t; D:U has multi, O. won’t, at least not initially; D:U has VR, D:U might have it as a late stretch goal, etc. etc.)

        • hurleybird says:

          Not quite right. The Descent IP is basically entirely held by these guys (Parallax), with the exception of the trademark “Descent” which is held by the rotting husk that is left of Interplay. Interplay licensed the trademark (they didn’t sell it) to the D:U devs, but they have no access to the rest of the IP. That’s why they don’t have a ship named the Pyro, or a company named PTMC, etc.

          The overload devs could, theoretically, do the exact opposite of D:U. Eg. make an actual Descent sequel that uses all the Descent IP… …as long as they don’t actually call it Descent.

          So, yeah, the entire legal situation is incredibly convoluted. From the sounds of it the Overload devs are going to make an entirely new IP and universe (although I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Easter eggs using the Descent IP), and one also gets the feeling that Interplay gave the trademark to the D:U devs out of spite: Parallax had been suing Interplay for non-payment of royalties, which culminated in the removal of Descent titles from Steam/GOG.

          While the situation obviously sucks, it sounds like the D:U devs are blameless in the entire messy business. Interplay approached them (not the other way around) with the license (before that their working title was STFU — Ships That Fly Underground) despite the fact that the Parallax guys were also trying to license it, and conveniently didn’t mention that fact to the D:U guys.

    • GepardenK says:

      This is like the Operation Flashpoint/Arma or Far Cry/Crysis situation where the original devs don’t own the IP so they make a similar game under a new name while at the same time the IP owners make their own sequel using the old name.

      So if we follow the people then Arma is the true successor to Operation Flashpoint (not Operation Flashpoint 2) and Crysis is the true successor to Far Cry (not Far Cry 2). Similarly you could say that Overload is a true successor to Decent (Not Decent: Underground)

  7. Risingson says:

    Hello, this is the mandatory mention to Forsaken. Have a nice day.

    • HumpX says:

      I played the PC and N64 versions of the game. The N64 version, because of its memory limitations had a strict polygon budget which forced the devs to be creative. It was actually a better game (single player) than the PC/PS2 versions.

  8. Chorltonwheelie says:

    Ah! The old days.

  9. DevilishEggs says:

    Please no survival or roguelike elements. Please no survival or roguelike elements. Please no survival or roguelike elements.

  10. racccoon says:

    Not another level editor come help us think of ways to do this, as we don’t really have a clue and we are penniless, so hence we got our beggars hat n’ bowl out! but our greatest feat is we don’t have to stand down in the under ground in the cold getting ignored bumped & abused, this new way of begging is just our cup of tea! as we just watch figures from a computer screen developed game!!

  11. Ben King says:

    Is anyone else still waiting with baited breath for another update regarding Rust LTD’s Null Operator descent-like game with semisentient robots wandering around subterranean post human wreckage? Just me? Overload still looks delightful though.

  12. Brian Paone says:

    A Descent continuation? Lovely! Call me when it’s finished and in release.

    As much as I would LOVE to contribute to help the game that got me interested in spaceflight get another installment, dealing with Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen has killed any desire I once harbored of giving money to a Kickstarter video game project.

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  14. manny says:

    Dudes, you do realize this is the killer app for vr? Forsaken was crazy in a tv screen, it would be bonkers in VR.

  15. Unsheep says:

    I have ignored Descent Underground completely since its only multiplayer, which predictably can only be short-lived. Overload caught my interest since it has single-player, which makes it a proper game. Hope their kickstarter works out.

  16. bill says:

    It looks very dark.
    I don’t remember descent being that dark, but I do remember another descent clone (maybe Forsaken) that was dark, and it was irritating as hell because you spent half the time not being able to spot the enemies, and the other half firing blindly in the hope of spotting them.

    I loved Descent back in the day (at least on uni LAN) and Forsaken was was pretty fun too… but I’m not actually sure there’s much more you can do with the formula.

  17. Abndn says:

    Ahh Descent 3, the game advertised every time I installed some Infinity Engine games. I never played you, but I have fond memories nonetheless.


  18. HumpX says:

    Time to dust off my Logitech Cyberman 2™

  19. Spongbo says:


    Loved that they were talking about how the old levels were all made of deformed cubes, and they were going to continue with that model. For me, Descent 3, with its open areas and 3D Studio level models, just didn’t feel quite right any more.

    Bonus points if this can read the old Descent PIGs and HOGs and import them directly. But that’s just crazy talk. Right?