Underworld is coming back. For many longtime gamers, that’s all that needs to be said. Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss and the sequel, Labyrinth of Worlds, were 1990’s must-play gaming. Despite being offshoots of the Ultima series, the emergent gameplay in both games allowed players freedom that hadn’t been seen previously. That gameplay coupled with being one of the first games to show environments in a first-person perspective in texture-mapped 3D, and you have the makings of influential hits. Ken Levine, John Carmack, and many other developers have acknowledged the impact Underworld had on their creations.
Can OtherSide Entertainment capture that magic again? Underworld Ascendant is their attempt to make a successor to the earlier games. They’ve got a Kickstarter and some new tech to get their game made. Underworld Ascendant won’t just have better graphics than the original games. OtherSide intends to use something called the Improvisation Engine to bring their game to life. They claim it will give players the creative tools to overcome the challenges they’ll face in the depths. It sounds like a fancy way to say “even more emergent gameplay” which can’t be a bad thing. In the three-way fight between dark elves, dwarves, and a race of intelligent fungi, players will probably need to get creative to stay alive when they’re caught in the middle.
If you want to check out what the old-school fuss is about, the original Ultima Underworld games are available on GOG.com