Underworld Ascendant "prototype trailer" shows off some stealth

Underworld Ascendant

It's difficult to overstate how revolutionary the dungeon crawler Ultima Underworld was when it came out in 1992. At a time when Doom players couldn't even look up or down, Underworld featured inclined, multi-tiered levels with platforms, bridges, and even swimmable water. But it was more than just an amazing technical achievement. The game world felt more "alive" than any I'd previously encountered, with monsters who were sometimes more hospitable than my fellow humans, and a host of surprises, like the goblin toilet that dropped me to the level below when I used it.

I've wanted more ever since, so when Underworld Ascendant turned up on Kickstarter, and being developed by a team headed by the designer of the original, I immediately threw money at it. And now we can finally get a look at how things are going.

It's a "prototype trailer," so the gameplay on display isn't fully optimized, and some of the graphics are placeholders. The objective, as narrator Tim Stellmach explains, is to illustrate how a stealth-oriented approach to the game can work. "Another player, say, one who has deadly fighting skills, might simply go toe-to-toe with the Shadow Beast to defeat it," he says in the video. "A player steeped in rune magic might use spells to overcome it. Another player might use a mix of stealth, fighting, and magic skill."

I found the voiceover to be a little off-putting—the original Underworld featured a silent protagonist—but Otherside explained that it's included "only as a narrative piece to explain what the player might be thinking. There will not be player VO in the final game, as it's a true role-playing game and we don't intend to speak for the player." That's not really a surprise, given the open-ended nature of the game, but it's still nice to have it confirmed.

Otherside founder and CEO Paul Neurath and Design Director Joe Fielder recently put in an appearance on the PC Gamer Show with Tom and Wes, chatting about topics ranging from great stealth games to the recently-announced Far Cry Primal. Watch it here.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.