Underworld Ascendant is out today, does not seem good.

#1 Edited by ArbitraryWater (15563 posts) -

Only 3 1/2 years after it was funded on Kickstarter, the spiritual successor/pseudo-sequel to Ultima Underworld that isn't allowed to use the word "Ultima" has finally come out. It's been a hell of a year for me and the sensation of "Oh right, I totally backed that, didn't I?" between The Bard's Tale IV, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, and Underworld Ascendant, so I'm looking forward to jumping in and seeing if this game is as totally broken at launch as those other two capable of holding up to some of the more sterling modern examples of the "immersive sim" genre.

It's obviously not going to have as much money behind it as Prey or Dishonored 2 did, but there are enough talented ex-Looking Glass and Irrational people behind this that I hope it will be interesting at the very least, and the whole thing should serve as an interesting barometer for Otherside's next game, System Shock 3. (Hey, remember how Warren Spector is making a new System Shock game? That's pretty wild.) Either way, there aren't a ton of games like this anymore, so I'm definitely going to take some time out of my Hitman 2 murdering to give it a shot.

EDIT: See my thoughts a couple posts down.

#2 Posted by hkr (18 posts) -

I bought it this morning and after about 45 minutes refunded it:

-The movement in the game feels incredibly off and slow.

-The game taunts you that it wants you to use your brain to solve problems, but so far those problems consisted of very basic HL2 style physics puzzles.

-The game in really dark, so to compensate they give you a flashlight item. Want to use anything else? You put the flashlight away. Doom 3 gameplay in 2018.

-The inventory is straight out of Minecraft circa 2009.

-The game doesn't explain itself well, purposefully being cryptic. Worse yet is tooltips often zoom by before you can even begin reading them.

I was sad to find out this game wasn't gonna be for me.

#3 Posted by deckard (282 posts) -

Yeah I had this on my Steam wishlist for the longest time, but between the abrupt release and the damning Steam reviews I’m going to pass.

#4 Posted by Vortextk (842 posts) -

"Oh god another Underworld movie? Oh...no. Ok, moving on."

#6 Posted by ArbitraryWater (15563 posts) -

So, uh, after messing around with this game for like two hours and discovering what its actual structure is, I feel like this is the closest thing to a clunker I've personally backed. Essentially, once you get past the introductory levels, it turns out the whole thing is mission based. As in, you select missions from a board and go into a level to fulfill some semi-generic task for one of the 3 factions. Based on what I've read... that's most of the game.

I don't know what happened during development, considering this thing almost took 4 years but it comes off like the devs constructed a lot of neat systemic interactions (i.e. burning down wooden doors with fire is pretty rad) but had to scale the actual "game" part of things down significantly. As it stands now, with lowered expectations I think it might be a halfway okay sandbox thing once they patch it to death. There's already been enough hubub about the save system, which is honestly just bizarre, but there are plenty of other weird quirks that make it feel like it was thrown out the door too early. The developers seem to be implicitly aware of this fact, and on another note it turns out Rich Gallup is working there now?

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#7 Edited by Ravey (256 posts) -

@arbitrarywater: Very sad and unfortunate; I would love to play a decent Underworld-style game!

Wishing them all the best in this troubling time.

#8 Edited by BrunoTheThird (789 posts) -

I'm crushed, because I've been really excited for this. The thought of that oldschool Ultima vibe in a more modern RPG's frame sounded dreamy to me, so it sucks it isn't that.

I feel like 4 years of development on a small budget is equal to about 12 months on a big one, if that, even with the most efficient budgeting possible, so it doesn't surprise me they had to strip their vision down to its bones. I mean, if we think about Kickstarter projects and why devs start them, we know it's not because they want to reach the bare minimum amount of funding to produce a 'version' of their brainchild; they want to smash their goals and fund the actual full vision, and that's always the hope. This team didn't do that, unfortunately -- when your starting goal is $600,00 for a full 3D game, a million plus is your real goal -- and I'm sure they didn't all pop champagne like Double Fine did when they saw their final total. I bet it was more of a, "Well, we can't make that big awesome RPG we wanted to, but let's try and make something similar that's still good."

For me, I have a bit more hope of the product being good when the goal is smashed. Kingdom Come started at £300,000 and got 1.1 mil, and it's a miracle what they managed to do on that kind of budget. That is in my top 10 of 2018 all year round, but I dread to think how it would have turned out on half that, because it was already buggy and janky as is. A flawed gem is still a gem, though, and there's always the strategy of using the sales when the game is out to pay for the patches they were probably already working on to fix it up to a more acceptable standard. I bet we would have gotten a much better Underworld if it had gone more like that, but I'm just an enthusiast, not an analyst. Maybe they did make what they wanted to and think this game is dope, but I doubt it.

I will buy it in a sale just out of curiosity to see what they cooked up.

#9 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8648 posts) -

What is with RPGs this year and bad save systems? I thought we’d collectively agreed save restrictions were shit.

#10 Posted by fisk0 (6801 posts) -

I was surprised to find out I hadn't actually backed this, and I suppose that ended up being a good thing.

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#11 Posted by Morningstar (2455 posts) -

Between this and the new Bard's Tale I'm really disappointed. Guess I'll just go back to Wizardry 8 again.

#12 Edited by FarleysLundgren (118 posts) -

Had this on my wishlist since I was itching to play a new dungeon crawler, bummer it turned out not so good.

#13 Posted by ArbitraryWater (15563 posts) -

Between this and the new Bard's Tale I'm really disappointed. Guess I'll just go back to Wizardry 8 again.

You didn't like The Bard's Tale IV? I've been waiting for them to put out another patch or two before giving it another shot, but what I played of it didn't seem bad. Certainly not as underwhelming as this game's first impression, in any case. It hasn't been an amazing year for crowdfunded RPGs outside of Pillars of Eternity 2, though once they make Pathfinder Kingmaker less broken I think that game could be something neat.

"Guess I'll go back to Wizardry 8 again" is definitely something I've said to myself multiple times in the past few years. Every time I play it I always get about a dozen-ish hours in before I lose interest or my frustrations with some of its quirks come to a head. It's one of my favorite RPGs, but man is it slow and man is the level scaling aggressive. The Wizardry-adjacent game Wizards and Warriors came out on GOG this year, and that's been a fun experience, even if the game itself is flawed and janky as all hell.

#14 Posted by selbie (2545 posts) -

I backed at the basic tier for the game and tried it out last night. Suffice to say they have a lot to fix (basic UI text not scaling properly etc) and they will need to do some drastic changes to gameplay to make it engaging. HKR is spot on that it feels like a dated physics puzzle game with deliberately restrictive elements for the sake of "mystery".

I had already anticipated that it would be a low budget game, but they seem to have lost something in the design. It's basically the same scenario as Shroud of the Avatar.

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