The original Ancient Domains of Mystery, or ADOM, was released about 25 years ago now, so it’s a little overdo for a sequel. While I was definitely playing video games back in 1996, a text-based role-playing game would not be enough to get me away from first person shooters. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of Ancient Domain of Mysteries until a few years ago when we reviewed the 2015 re-release, ADOM (Ancient Domains Of Mystery). It looks like I missed out, though, because ADOM is a huge roguelike role-playing game—one where players who have been playing for over 20 years still manage to run into things they haven’t before discovered. It’s hard to make a follow-up to such a game, especially one with a cult following like ADOM, but original developer Thomas Biskup is trying to do exactly that with Ultimate ADOM—Caverns of Chaos.
Ultimate ADOM—Caverns of Chaos is a turn-based roguelike role-playing game. To say that ADOM—Caverns of Chaos is old school is probably a bit of an understatement. It’s extremely old school, with stats and mechanics that resemble that of a tabletop role-playing game more than a video game. While it took ADOM about twenty years to get its graphical overhaul, Ultimate ADOM comes with graphics from day one. Surprisingly, you can switch between view modes, with graphics enabled or just text-based representation. You can even switch between isometric and top-down views, even in the text-based mode, making for a weird 3D-ish text-based hybrid that’s actually kind of cool.
Everything Ultimate ADOM—Caverns of Chaos is turn-based. Each time you take an action—eat, walk, swing your weapon, open a door, etc. enemies can take an action. There is no diagonal movement or attacking in Ultimate ADOM, which I consider a strange design choice, and you can’t walk through enemies. If you get surrounded, you’re stuck until you fight your way out or die. And of course, death is permanent. Unlike more modern roguelikes, there is no progression between levels besides what you learn from that run.
The goal for Ultimate ADOM—Caverns of Chaos is to have the diversity in content that its predecessor had. Right now, it’s in Early Access, so it doesn’t have all the planned content included. According to its Early Access information box on its store page, there are 60 (!) more skill trees planned for implementation, including mechanics for hunger and chaos accumulation implemented—right now, they exist merely as placeholders. There will also be NPCs added with questlines, including many more classes, locations, skills, etc.
Right now Ultimate ADOM—Caverns of Chaos is in pretty good shape–though I have run into quite a few bugs in the few hours I’ve played it. It is, of course, under active development and that thankfully means bug fixes, with a major patch that is incoming and just announced today and releasing next week. This new patch will not only address bugs but will add new monsters and abilities. If you want a complete and bug-free experience, you might want to wait until the full release—which is optimistically planned for the end of the year.
Ultimate ADOM—Caverns of Chaos is available now on Steam Early Access.
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