A competent one-man experiment into the top-down CRPG, pulled off with all the panache of Vampyr: Talisman of Invocation or, say, Ultima 3. The difference here is that the author rebels against the established conventions instead of playing to them, exposing the arbitrary design and story cliches plaguing the genre from the start and having a good time taking it down a few notches with a wicked discordian Subgenius sense of humour.
Unlike the irrelevant + unrelated mockery of Ultimuh, however, there is substance behind this parody: Descension's homage delivers a credible game experience, albeit one a decade or so behind the times -- the look and feel of the stickmen's tile-based overland and palace maps could easily pass at a casual glance for actual screens from early members of the Ultima series... it's only in the fine details that you can tell that this isn't being played straight. There's nothing so very unusual about being sent on a quest by Lord Finnish (guess they couldn't afford British)... until he tells you that he needs you to recover his children's book from the dreaded monster "Bunnicula." Is he making fun of you? No -- actually he directs you to the dungeon where it can be found. And sure, maybe "Mustard" is a peculiar name for a dungeon... but so is the canonical "Hythloth", so who am I to judge. The next weapon up from the Mace is the Herring? Well, I'm sure its smell is quite offensive. And while it is true that I've never seen a game with an esoteric (P)ush a plant option among the character's possible single-key actions, it's implemented beautifully and functions precisely as you'd expect. Goofy, but no worse than Space Quest 4's tongue and nose action icons.
In short, it's no less a game for its lack of stony respect for its source material, delivering everything the originals did plus a hefty dose of doesn't-take-itself-so-seriously humour to mellow the repetitive (however classic) find-the-McGuffin, kill-the-Foozle gameplay.
People who downloaded Untima IX: Descension have also downloaded:
Ultima Underworld 2: Labyrinth of Worlds, Ultima 7: The Black Gate, Worlds of Ultima: Savage Empire, Ultima 7: Part Two - Serpent Isle, Warlords: Battlecry III, Wizards & Warriors, Ultima 5: Warriors of Destiny, Ultima 9: Ascension
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