Underworld Ascendant is the first in a series of titles where Looking Glass studios alumni are moving to reclaim their former mantle. Under the OtherSide Entertainment banner, they’re working on a proper System Shock sequel, but the game we’ll see out of the gate next is the Ultima Underworld sequel we deserve. The Dungeons & Dragons flair is mixed into an immersive sim setup that lacks the Ultima name but keeps the spirit alive. Amidst deadly traps, evil glowing skeleton bois, and red hot liquid magma, there’s adventure to be had and hundreds of terrible deaths to meet! But not if you can outwit the game, which OtherSide is counting on.
The world is built seemingly entirely from machines that want to cut you in half and various box puzzles that can be weaponized, perhaps to defeat the traps? I don’t want to jump to conclusions. Nor do I want to attempt to jump over anything here. I feel like I’m in for reloading a lot of save games.
As Adam wrote of the game back in February, the draw here is using your wits to be a brilliant jerk to the game itself.
This is a game for anyone who has ever tormented a GM during a tabletop RPG session. The maps have been drawn up, the traps have been primed and all of the plans are coming together. You’re deep in a dungeon and the story is about to take a very unpleasant turn. And then…
“You said the spikey pillars are made of the same wood from which the ancient throne of Catharsia was carved? Fine. I’ll set fire to them.”
“You can’t do that…there are another six distinct phases of this particular peril…”
“I’m pretty sure I can. They’re wood. They’ll burn. Let’s get out of here.”
I… uh. I want that. No better feeling than a burst of knowing you’re smarter than Warren Spector. Gimmie dat brain-rush, Non-Ultima.
The first trailer is out now so… Enough gab; more stab:
As someone whose gaming history with Looking Glass is based more in the legacy it left and those who borrowed form it moving forward than in the original titles themselves, I’m excited to see how the team is modernizing their concepts. Plus dropping magic boxes on Ole Glow Bones there in the trailer looks pretty sweet.
There’s also a pretty swell developer diary series up with OtherSide Entertainment’s Paul Neurath, Warren Spector and Joe Fielder. Part The First is available here:
You can wishlist the game on Steam now.
(Wait. There’s a proper System Shock sequel coming? Did I bury the lede?)