|Genre(s)||Role Playing Game|
Underlight focuses on character development and interaction primarily through in-character roleplaying, rather than combat or items (although both exist and have their place). The game gives players the opportunity to shape the world through roleplaying, both in a figurative sense by influencing and manipulating events and in a literal sense, where new arts (the game's version of spells) are introduced and modified, new planes (levels) form, and new rooms appear through the actions of the players. Advancement in the game revolves primarily through interaction with others, where strength (experience) is gained via interaction with others, and arts and orbits (levels) are earned by requesting and completing a variety of tasks from teachers, players who possess the ability to train others in obtaining and strengthening arts. Underlight's setting is a shared dreamstate or consciousness, reached by people who have attained a heightened state of mind through advancement of mental skill and ability rather than physical technology. These people hail from earth-like sections of a world, each surrounded by an impenetrable boundary mist. Gameplay commonly revolves around the interactions of numerous Houses (guilds), each with a different take on the dream they inhabit and their beliefs on many different aspects of the game. There are no non-player characters (NPCs) aside from monsters (or "nightmares".), which provide an outlet for combat when aggressive interaction with players is not feasible.
In November 2006 Lyra Studios announced the game would be shut down on New Year's Eve 2006 due to a dwindling user base and chronic lack of game staff.
Rebirth - Shades of Truth and Echoes of Chaos
Following the demise of the Lyra run version of Underlight, a license was purchased by an independent group in an effort to continue running the game for those of the community who enjoyed the unique atmosphere of the game, but were unable to find a suitable replacement. It was hosted by Ixios Development from 2008 to 2013 under the title of Underlight: Shades of Truth. In 2013, Red Coat Games took over hosting and maintaining the game under the title of Underlight: Echoes of Chaos; but, they shut it down by the end of the year.
Coming developments - Clash of Dreams
In early 2014, another independent group, partnered with Ixios Development, obtained a license to operate the game and are planning a release later in the year. This new incarnation will operate under the title, Underlight: Clash of Dreams, and will allow players to bring in characters from both the Lyra and Shades of Truth versions. As of March 2014, closed beta testing is under way.
GamesFirst retrospective of Underlight highlighted its unusual setting, potential for social interaction and low system requirements. However, in comparison to more modern MMORPGs, the graphics and playing area seemed poor. Other criticisms included an unfulfilling combat system and lack of depth-adding elements (for example, there was no indication that additional equipment could be found later in the game.) Overall, Underlight was awarded 2 out of 5 stars.
- Aaron Stanton (05/02/2002). "Underlight review". gamesfirst.com. Retrieved 2008-12-31.