We might have escaped October, but there’s still plenty of skeletons in Underworld Ascendant, OtherSide Entertainment’s successor to immersive sim great granddaddy Ultima Underworld. Backstabbing, sneaking, turning traps on their owners and generally being a high-flying swashbuckling so-and-so looks to be order of the day, according to its new launch trailer. The game is launching in just over a week now – next Thursday, November 15th, to be precise – and you can have a little peek at the colourful dungeoneering action below.
While I can’t say I see too much family resemblance to Ultima Underworld (Arkane’s early Arx Fatalis may be a better place to look for that), I can appreciate what’s on show here. Ascendant looks more along the lines of Dishonored or Dark Messiah Of Might And Magic (also both Arkane games, go figure), with a saturated, almost fairytale-like colour palette that reminds me a bit of Trine. I’ve heard mixed reports as to its quality from those who have played earlier builds, but in systems-focused games like this, a lot can change in just a few months of development.
I am happy to see the return of the runic magic system from Ultima Underworld. It let you guess at combinations of spell components you’ve collected to cast stuff you hadn’t been officially taught. On the less good front, there are some weird performance dips even in the trailer – seldom a good sign. I’ve got my fingers tightly crossed for this one. Brilliant as Prey’s Mooncrash expansion was, there’s only so much you can wring from its systems and handful of maps. I need some fresh AIs to baffle, mazes to explore and large heavy boxes to drop off ledges onto heads.