Big promises … that end in nothing. With the freedom of action by the flag, the spiritual successor of the classic Ultima Underworld is far from the expectations it had generated. It has potential but as we told you in the analysis of Underworld Ascendant, technical errors ruin this stealth role adventure.
I had so many hopes placed on Underworld Ascendant; I was expecting so much from this first-person role adventure developed by real veterans of the videogame industry, that even as I write these lines I feel a nightmare. It’s terrible! A complete disaster that hurts, and much, coming from the hands of a legend like Warren Spector, father among others of the memorable Deus Ex, or Paul Neurath, creator of the mythical Ultima Underworld in which they are inspired. And as in this classic, here freedom of action is everything. “Be creative,” the project managers told us in a moment the first contact with Underworld Ascendant; “The good thing about the game is that if magic is difficult for you, you can try stealth, and if this does not work, you can try it with the fight.” The idea is great, like the level design that invites precisely to it, to experiment, to be creative in the fight against the forces of evil. Sadly it does not happen of there, of being a good idea terribly badly executed.
Soon the Otherside Entertainment video game shows its weaknesses, which go beyond the purely technological. Because yes, there are many mistakes that completely ruin the game experience, but their biggest lack is the total absence of creativity in the design of their missions. They want us to be imaginative, to face the action trying new strategies, inventing spells, using the environment in our favor but … for what? If then the goal is always the same. Kill this or another enemy, or collect this or another object. There’s no more. And the worst thing is that you repeat them again and again in the same scenarios, without changes beyond subtle variations in the position of the enemies or the loot that you can find in the dungeon. It’s sad, and to some extent dramatic, because it’s easy to see the potential that Underworld Ascendant treasures and how far it is from taking advantage of a tiny part of it.
Action, stealth, magic … Underworld AscendantA wooden door blocks your way and away from looking for a key … you use fire to throw it down! It is one of the first and simplest examples of what you can do in Underworld Ascendant, but there is much more in this RPG that in certain aspects is reminiscent of the classic Thief, or the most recentDishonored. You are free to explore the stage as you wish, using stealth, covering your steps behind the shadows; or with a sword in hand, crushing any enemy that crosses your path. Nobody will tell you how to accomplish the mission, and that says a lot in favor of a video game that never limits your options to a couple of alternatives and little else; that does not close in the simple dichotomy between stealth or action.
The design of levels invites free exploration; to climb, jump or travel winding tunnels in search of new routes that guide you to the desired place. You can use the acrobatic skills of the protagonist, or bet on magic using spells that allow you to build your own path, stacking boxes, with teleportation, fire or whatever! And it is an incredibly fun feeling that is equally true for enemies, whom you can stab in the back, attack head-on with several weapons in single combat, strike with spells or shoot down using the stage itself. At least … in theory, because right now Underworld Ascendant is literally broken.
The artificial intelligence of the enemies is so terrible, so bad, that it is no longer very easy to deceive them, to pass by their side without being aware of it; is that they are so foolish, that they are able to get trapped in any place, in front of a tree, in the lintel of a door, in an empty room, arriving at the extreme delirium of dying for unknown causes. It will be stupidity, which in this fantasy universe is paid with life, but the truth is that at the time of writing these lines, and after two updates, the AI continues to be nonsense, as the technical performance itself. I wish it were the only thing.
The game is riddled with errors that in one way or another end up spoiling the game, to the point of rendering the bow useless, which beyond its function as a weapon, also serves to extinguish torches thanks to the water arrows. Without any explanation, well, suddenly, it stops working. And you there, surrounded by enemies, shooting incessantly to realize that you’re not doing anything. Underworld Ascendant also crashes, a lot, which is dramatic due to an inexplicable saving system that forces you to start the level from the beginning. Ok, yes, objects and progress are saved, it would be more, but it is exhausting and frustrating to go back to the same scenario, more when the fault is the video game itself, which has left you hanging. Not to mention the problems with the physics of objects, serious in a game that is based almost entirely on it.
On paper his action is great but, in practice, it is a real nonsense
The weight of the objects varies miraculously depending on whether you want to pick them up with your hands or simply kick them when walking towards them. That sounds like a joke, but it is one of the most frustrating aspects of Underworld Ascendant because when you try to climb using boxes, they will fly in one direction or another, greatly complicating the task. It is horrible ! and nonsense that does nothing but shows that the game comes to the stores with an alarming lack of polishing. On paper his action is great but, in practice, it is really nonsense. And I said it before. I wish all his problems were linked to technical errors, because, with the promise to improve with updates, sooner or later we would stop talking about them. It is not the case.
While the game rewards the creativity of the player, their missions with just the opposite. Repeat again and again the same objectives, and you do it by exploring the same scenarios again and again until the action becomes tedious. Ok, you can change strategy and, thanks to the skill tree, you can learn new tricks with which to overcome the challenges that Underworld Ascendant proposes, but the truth is that with so many errors, the game does not invite to it. Yes, I like that with the passing of the hours the action becomes more difficult, while the villain Typhon is closer to come back to life, but either he changes the game a lot with his next updates, or he will remain in a sad mood. and I can not. I see it difficult to happen.
There is an alarming lack of enemies, and fighting against them is not especially fun. They are missing more puzzles or traps that really surprise you and force you to react in imaginative ways. With a great design of levels and attractive setting, you really feel like exploring and diving into the depths of the Styx Abyss, but such is the frustration and despair that generates the game of Otherside Entertainment, that not even forcing you to do it, you enjoy the experience. It’s sad that such an attractive and talented project behind him has ended so tragically; and even worse is knowing that this same team works on the coveted System Shock 3. I cross my fingers so that in this case, and with Warren Spector as director and not a simple adviser, the fans have the game they deserve.
I had everything to become great role-playing and stealth video game; The sad reality is that Underworld Ascendant is nothing more than a badly executed bad idea. Apart from technical errors, which have many, and their nefarious artificial intelligence, the very design of missions with repetitive and uninspired objectives doomed to failure. Promising, yes, but far, far from the expected quality, coming from a team of authentic legends.
- The freedom of action. You can complete the missions as you wish
- Magic, stealth, and combat are combined with a good level design
- Terrible artificial intelligence that ruins the gaming experience
- Missions missing from that creativity that the game invites you to use
- Errors, many mistakes. It looks like a half-finished videogame