A Brief History Of The Immersive Sim And The New Interest In Them

A short history of a small set of games

Jacob Maxwell, Staff Writer

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If you’re up to date with new big games you may or may have heard of the new Prey or the dishonored games and this type of game might feel distinctly different to you with the open ended game world with a hard set of rules and a toolbox of things that play with those rules. But these types of games have been around for quite a long time, you can go back to 1992 when Ultima Underworld came out a whole few months before Doom, based on the already well established Ultima games, it was made by Looking Glass Studios and it was made to completely immerse the player in the world or britannia where you play as the out of shape avatar. And after it came out it was a small success, mainly because of it’s connections to the biggest role playing game series out at the time.

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (1992)

These types of games have always been a sort of small niche type of game only made by a select few, seemingly only made by people from Looking Glass and people who once worked there. It’s always been a low selling high reviewing type of game. Made to “simulate” living in a fantasy world and trying to put you into the world. Some of my favorite type of games with such a open specific brand of role playing, nothing is arbitrary or random. If it doesn’t fit into the world, they don’t put it into the game.

And after bigger devs shifted away from PC, the genre has fallen out of favor with the failure of Deus Ex: Invisible War (2003), this game was made for the xbox, and because of that Ion Studios had to scale back the scope and size of the levels and because of that it became prettier, but much less complex. At this point the games became smaller and we didn’t really see a true immersive sim come out for a while, while games like Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl (2007) and Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines (2004) gave some new games to fans of the genre, it was never really thriving.

Really the only people who could bring it back was the people who started it, Looking Glass Studios, and because in 2000 the studio closed due to poor sales, they started Arkane Studios in 1999. A few people from Looking Glass formed Arkane Studios and made a few small successes. And in 2012 Dishonored came out and brought back the spirit of the immersive sim back into the public eye and brought back a whole new interest in the immersive sim.

As of right now many new games are coming out with this type of design.

A System Shock remake and System Shock 3 is being made. A new Ultima Underworld game is coming out soon.

The successors to the classic games that brought the genre to life have been crowd funded. Immersive sims have come back and they are stronger than ever. Big budget immersive sims have been funded. Big budget immersive sims are out. With Dishonored 2 and Prey, more games of this nature can be successful.


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A Brief History Of The Immersive Sim And The New Interest In Them