Perhaps being nine years old when it was released may have dulled my appreciation of the original Ultima Underworld. Looking back, it's a vitally important, genre-defining game, but I was just too young and inexperienced to appreciate it at the time. Decades of playing immersive sims later, and I am practically buzzing with anticipation for spiritual successor Underworld Ascendant. Today, OtherSide Entertainment (who are also working on System Shock 3) released a new gameplay trailer as well as announcing that the game is due out this September.
Oddly, the impression I get from the trailer below is less Ultima Underworld (despite invoking the name of the Stygian Abyss) and more Thief by way of Trine, both in terms of mechanics and art direction. Which is to say this is something that I am extremely on-board for; I can't help but grin at the possibilities inherent in blending sneaky shadow-hugging, torch-extinguishing stealth with swashbuckling rope-swinging and breaking all the puzzles with magically manipulated physics objects.
Several trailers in and I'm well on board with the dense pools of coloured lighting. A little otherworldly and cartoonish, admittedly, but I can see it working. With just a few well-picked visual cues and colour coded objects, you end up with a much more visually readable environment than in the likes of Thief's grey-brown tunnels. Looking Glass' sneakman sims are games I love to pieces, but some details do get lost in the backdrops.
Two things about the trailer do raise eyebrows, though - first one, then the other. Quite what OtherSide reckon they've done to need a (provisional) 18+ age rating is beyond me, as nothing in the trailer appears to be anything past PG material. Plus, I'm not entirely sure how you're meant to swing dramatically from a dangling rope while shooting a bow with both hands. Must be those +3 Pantaloons of Choking Grip, which may also explain the age thing.
While the specific day has yet to be worked out, Underworld Ascendant should be launching this September, and you can wishlist it on Steam here.