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Underworld Ascendant

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Online Multiplayer
Developer: OtherSide Entertainment
Release Date: Nov. 15, 2018


PC Preview - 'Underworld Ascendant'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on July 16, 2018 @ 1:15 a.m. PDT

Far more than a dungeon crawl, Underworld Ascendant not only modernizes the series’ visuals and user interface to take full advantage of the today’s hardware, but also innovates in bold new ways.

Deus Ex is a classic that stands up to this day, and there's a reason for it. The game feels natural, the exploration helps it all come together, and the puzzle solutions feel natural. It's a rare gift in games, and even to this day, titles that are so well designed are few and far between. Underworld Ascendant from OtherSide games is an attempt to return to the success of Deus Ex, and they even have Warren Spector on board.

Underworld Ascendant is set in the hellish underworld of Stygian Abyss. Your protagonist must venture through this world in a quest to gain the power of a god. The Stygian Abyss is a thriving world with multiple factions that are fighting for domination, and the players will have many options about who to side with.

Our demo at E3 2018 was more focused on the gameplay. If you've ever played old first-person exploration games like Thief or Deus Ex, then Underworld Ascendant will feel very familiar. It's going for an old-school vibe from the interface to the mechanics, and that should please fans.

We saw a slice of the gameplay, but it wasn't enough to get a feel for it. For combat, we saw some evil skeletons that I could thwack with a sword, but there was little feedback. It's unclear how the combat will function in the final game.

Likewise, the spells felt unfinished. For example, there's one spell that is a soul bind, which can either dominate enemies or chain them down, depending on whether they're spiritual or physical. The spell felt very iffy and difficult to use, and after some experimentation, I focused on the more reliable abilities instead. I had more luck with using fire, but the fire mechanic was still being refined, and setting something alight was an inconsistent process. It was fun to smash my way through a door rather than having to hunt for a key.

We saw some really cool things. The gameplay slice showed off a lot of variety and options for how to move around. There were hidden doors and keys, secrets to discover, high paths, low paths, and so on. When trying to advance in the area, I could go high or low, find keys or burn doors, and even the mine-jumping exploit from Deus Ex is a mechanic thanks to throwable sticky explosives.

There's a lot of potential in Underworld Ascendant, and the concepts behind it are extremely strong. Unfortunately, our demo at E3 was very rough, so we could only get a glimpse of the game. The level design seemed interesting and strong, and the mix of Deus Ex and Thief mechanics has a lot of room for interesting elements. Underworld Ascendant is due out in Sept. 2018 for PC.

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