Underworld Ascendant, a spiritual successor to the seminal ’90s role-playing game, Ultima Underworld, has hit Kickstarter.
The game was first revealed in 2014 when veteran developer Paul Neurath, co-founder of Looking Glass Studios, announced it as the first project of his new, independent studio, OtherSide Entertainment.
Ultima Underworld was the first project of Looking Glass Studios when it was founded as Blue Sky Productions in 1992. It is considered to be the first RPG with a first-person perspective in a 3D world, setting the precedent for Looking Glass’ own classic games (System Shock, Thief) and everything they influenced (BioShock, Skyrim, etc). It combined the established structure of dungeon crawler games with an impressive (for the time) physics engine and systemic design, leading to forward-thinking emergent gameplay in what the designers described as a “dungeon simulation.”
Although Electronic Arts still holds the rights to the Ultima franchise, Underworld Ascendant will hold strong ties to its forebear, calling its protagonist “The Avatar” and even getting a nod of support in the video from Ultima creator Richard “Lord British” Garriott. Continuing the tradition of designing around dynamic, interlocking systems, the underworld will be populated by three factions (dark elves, dwarves, and fungus people), whose actions and positions will be impacted by your choices. The story you make for yourself is the order of the day.
At the time of this writing, the project has pulled in just over $150,000 of its $600,000 goal with a month to go, boding well for its prospects. Underworld Ascendant is the latest in a string of projects from ’80s and ’90s PC developers using Kickstarter to revitalize CRPGs, such as Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity, and Shadowgate.