J. Zachary Pike's

Blog of the Strange and Fantastic

Fiction, Gaming & Writing

Video Games

Underworld Ascendant

I have a few bad habits, and one of them is buying things that don’t exist or work yet. That takes a few shapes; for example, I occasionally buy platoons of plastic space men that could be used to do something fun someday, but will likely remain unfinished on my desk until I am old enough to retire. I’m also a fan of buying early access video games, and my latest splurge was for Underworld Ascendant.  

Underworld Ascendant is the spiritual successor to Ultima: Underworld.  U:U was an amazing advancement in computer RPGs, and it’s made a lot of “Top Games of All Time” lists for the way it moved the genre forward. I enjoyed the game, though my most vivid memory of it is reading about its monster system requirements a PC magazine. My father and I marveled that any game could take up 13 MB of hard drive space. (Oh, Moore’s Law. You crack us old-timers up.)

Underworld Ascendant look like they’re trying to carry on that legacy of RPG innovation, and let’s be honest, that’s a tall order. Today’s RPGs are an established formula that a lot of smart people have spent a lot of time honing, and major advancements are few and far between. I’m not entirely sure that Ascendant will be the leap forward that its predecessor was.

But there’s a chance that it could.

Underworld Ascendant might turn into something really, really special. It could be the start of Fantasy RPG conventions that gamers and game developers alike will be talking about 15 years from now, the kind of gaming tropes that make for excellent satire.  And with a pedigree like Ascendant’s, the chances that it will make that kind of leap look better than most games’. In my mind, that alone is worth the $25 it takes to secure a copy of the game.

Happily, Underworld Ascendant has already made its Kickstarter goal. If you’re a fan of RPGs, you still have a few days to reserve the game cheap, help make it even better by hitting stretch goals, and potentially even shape gaming history.  Check it out on Kickstarter.

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