505 Games has a great lineup of core titles coming this year; the first I was able to check out was Underworld: Ascendant, a spiritual sequel to the classic Ultima Underworld series. This demo was a win before I even started playing, since who would be present but Warren Spector himself? The father of Wing Commander, Epic Mickey and Deus Ex was present and accounted for and it was all I could do to maintain my composure as I shook his hand and offered a business card (p.s. call me!).
As for Ascendant, it’s a freeform first-person RPG where your character strives to become a hero known as the Ascendant and shake the balance of power between factions in the Underworld. In the hands-on demo we were presented with the task of finding and collecting a magical artifact, then offered a character kitted out with multiple items and skills in order to encourage a variety of approaches.
In my case, I figured the ol’ stealth archer build wouldn’t do me wrong, so I spent my session sneaking from shadow to shadow, using water arrows to put out torches and so on. It all felt pretty good – with the exception of combat, an area that the dev team said they’re focusing on before launch – and I was especially enamored with the way object materials are handled.
See a locked wooden door? Don’t have a key to get in? If you can get some fire over by carrying a brazier or lighting one of your arrows, it’s entirely possible to just burn the door itself and forget about the lock; what’s more, the game even encourages this sort of creative play! It’s a fantastic idea that seems well-executed, but we’ll see if that remains the case when Underworld: Ascendant fully launches.
Next up was some hands-on time with a pair from the world of crowdfunding: Indivisible and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. The former is an indie take on Valkyrie Profile while the latter owes obvious inspiration to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
By now we’re pretty familiar with both, so there’s not a lot to say in terms of new content and gameplay; it might be enough to say that each is looking fabulous and they’re both well on their way to launch based one what I was able to play.