Disclosure: I am a huge fan of RPGs and stealth games and thus place Looking Glass Studios on a very high pedestal. Just as how I do not find myself fit to review Metal Gear Solid games, I will not delve too much into this Kickstarter post for Underworld Ascendant.

A lot of my initial excitement for crowdfunding stems from the fact that it helps players revive genres and franchises forgotten over the years. Today we’re digging up yet another legend, one that has been highly influential to the development of games then and today: Ultima Underworld.

Ultima Underworld hails from Blue Sky Productions, who later named themselves Looking Glass Studios and gave us both System Shock and Thief. If we’re talking about today’s first-person 3D RPGs such as The Elder Scrolls then we have to acknowledge the innovations that Ultima Underworld laid back in 1992. A sequel was released in 1993 and that was the last we ever heard of it.

Two decades later studio founder Paul Neurath appears on Kickstarter with a familiar team and something called Ultima Ascendant.

Join the original team behind Ultima Underworld on a quest to rekindle this legendary fantasy RPG series.

They’re calling Ascendant “a genuine part of the Underworld series” and, according to a Reddit IAmA, “essentially a full sequel.”  Like its namesake, players have to journey beneath the ground and into the Stygian Abyss. Rather than being a series of dank caverns, however, you’ll meet “bustling underground societies” and explore all manner of locations: ancient temples, dwarven halls, ice caverns, and giant mushroom forests. Need I mention portals to other worlds?

My concerns lay in their ability to optimize a game of that scope running on Unity, and whether they’ll be able to stand out from modern alternatives. They’re confident in their player-driven narrative and Improvisation Engine for one, and I’d like to believe their experience can give us an RPG with greater depth and complexity but without any fluff content or a messy interface.

And this isn’t on the page for some reason but game designer Warren Specter (Deus Ex) is on board as creative adviser.

More information will be released in the coming weeks, including gameplay footage. For now, feel free to browse the Kickstarter pitch.

Underworld Ascendant -- Kicktraq Mini

Minimum pledge for a copy of Underworld Ascendant is US$25 (SG$33) which includes three digital wallpapers, the digital soundtrack, a forum badge, and an exclusive in-game ring. An early bird special for US$20 is still available as of writing.


Note: The featured image is not boxart, I just cobbled it together from art and the logo.