Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos Early Access Preview: Crawling With All Four Limbs

25 years in the making (well, not exactly), Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos Early Access is ready for crawling.

Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos Early Access is a challenging title. First, it’s easy to assume that this is an ‘add-on’, if you (me) don’t process the title correctly. And for the second, a LOT is going on.

A procedurally generated dungeon crawler that is effectively endless, it’s easy to find this game quite overwhelming – even if it’s in Early Access. It’s not that the controls are complex or that there are dodgy camera angles. The sheer volume of probabilities in the game makes this a unique, sometimes confusing, experience.

Like any good dungeon crawler, there’s a wealth of goodies to loot, equipment to wear and new pathways that make Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos fresh every time you play. But is it any good…?

Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos Early Access Preview

Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos Early Access isn’t a new venture or a title that’s grabbed the dorsal fin of a trend fish. With an origin story that dates back 25 years, this is a sequel many fans have been waiting for.

Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos Early Access - Ration
Rations. Source: Steam

While having a gaming vintage that would insinuate I’ve played the first game, I haven’t. In fact, I’ve not heard of it, so it’s all new to me, and that’s perhaps why I found it so overwhelming.

Like a game of Dungeons and Dragons, from several developers – see the Steam page and Assemble EntertainmentUltimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos is a Kleenex marathon for stat fans. In fear of losing street cred, I must admit that I’m a big fan of statistics, watching real-time progression with a character (still playing Nioh 2 to death).

There aren’t any die here to throw, but there’s a continuous dialogue window tracking your every move, hits and sampling your blood with every step. But the game is a contradiction as it would imply that it’s a turn-based game, but it all happens so swiftly.

If You Go Into The Dungeons Today…

Let’s clear the air with the plot: there’s isn’t one. Well, there’s a backstory, but it can be covered in a sentence or two. Set in Ancardia, the evil has been defeated, and seven factions are fighting for power. However, ‘evil’ has other plans, and that’s where our heroes come into play.

There are 25 skill trees in the game with almost 300 skills. That’s insane. However, when you start to get the gist of how it all works, it becomes a bit more manageable, then it boils down to crawling about, searching for better loot.

There’s also a wealth of spells in the game, but I can categorically say that I seldom go with magic builds, and not likely to anytime soon. That said, the combat in Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos Early Access isn’t the best, so perhaps with time, my opinion may change.

Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos Early Access - Wheel of fortune
Wheel of Fortune. Source: Steam

Choose Your Own Adventure

Something worth pointing out is the chance of getting lost: it’s relatively high. Well, if you pay enough attention to the mini-map, you won’t get lost, but the back-tracking involved it a bit of a nuisance. To save your sole (intentional spelling), make your own shortcut.

I found out this trick pretty early on by mistake. If you repeatedly walk into a wall, you’ll start hacking away at it, forming a new path. This is the Chaos in Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos Early Access; as you can say nuts to the level design and go proper rogue.

Besides building a tank, or a rapscallion rogue, one of the highlights in equipables is appendages

Alas, there’ some small print – two bits, to be precise. First, it takes ages, so you’re better off retracing your steps. Second, it wears down your weapons to nothing. The first issue I could deal with, but the second was annoying when I had to bare-knuckle an orc. Not something you can do with ease.

Still, the combat is probably the easiest, somewhat monotonous, part of Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos Early Access. Simply move in one of four directions towards the enemy and keep walking into them until they die. There’s no skill at the moment other than what loadout you have equipped.

Idle Hands x4

If Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos Early Access lacks in the combat side of things, it makes up for it in variety. There’s heaps of loot to pick up, equipable based on the item’s size and your chosen characters.

Besides building a tank, or a rapscallion rogue, one of the highlights in equipables is appendages. Get this: you can apply monster parts to your person to use against the enemy in your dungeon endeavours. Goro’s got nothing on you now, the claymation philistine.

Customisation expands beyond your character as you can play the game in ASCII mode. One for the fans, perhaps, as it was too much of a gimmick for me, but it’s always good to have the option. There are multiple gender options also, and if the YouTube comments are anything to go by, people are excited about it, in my best Trump impersonation. Remember him?

Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos Early Access - ASCII
ASCII – Nerds! Source: Steam

A note on the presentation; the characters are all pretty unique, and it’s a nice-looking art style. The animation can feel a bit choppy at times, but it’s mostly aesthetic, using minimal keyframes to animate characters. The attention has been placed on the endless opportunities rather than whether you can see blackheads on a dwarf.

In short, Ultimate ADOM Caverns Of Chaos Early Access has the potential to be a massive game, and don’t doubt that it will be one of your five-day when it comes to dungeon crawling. The focus in the specs says that the game is intuitive, and in many ways, it is. But be advised there’s a lot to take in and even more to come. I’ll be watching this one and recommend you have a look too, including the proposed Early Access roadmap.