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.
Clash of Dreams
In early 2014, another independent group KoiWare, obtained a license to operate the game and planned a release later in the year. This new incarnation operates under the title, Underlight: Clash of Dreams, allows players to bring in characters from both the Lyra and Shades of Truth versions. As of March 2014, closed beta testing was under way. The new versions went live in September of 2014. Clash of Dreams was able to get the NPC mare engine up and the original server back online complete with the entire database originally used in the Lyra version (allowing old players to return with the characters just as they were when they last logged in 2006 and prior) they also have the Shades of Truth player database, and the clash of two flavors of Underlight had begun. Clash of Dreams has added new levels, content, arts, tweaks and various other updates to the original software, and have an ongoing development team. As of late June, 2015, Underlight: Clash of Dreams moved to www.underlight.com the original home for Underlight under permission from the owner of Lyra Studios LLC and is no longer using the "Clash of Dreams" title and refer to themselves as just Underlight forth going.
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.
While rooms are divided by portals, and so may individually exist anywhere in space, it is generally considered that rooms on the same plane are clustered together and the orientation of portals between rooms is congruous.
The result is that the city as a whole takes the shape of a wheel with eight spokes. The hub in the center contains Threshold, which forms a ring. In the center of this ring is the Library of Souls, below which is Threshold Pits, and the even lower Threshold Caves.
Radiating outwards from Threshold are the eight Inner Planes, each with a stronghold at the point furthest from Threshold. Somewhere between the two ends of each plane exists a second ring of outer planes, connecting each inner plane with its neighbors.
- Original Developer Website
- Original Game Website
- Mplayer Press Release
- Skotos Press Release
- Computer Chronicles Underlight Gameplay Video (Skip ahead to 20:00)
- Engadget Article
- RPG Planet Articles
- GameSpy Interviews
- GameSpot Article
- Khabal Article
- Games First Article
- Computer Gaming World Article (Go to page 92)
- Massively OP Article
- GameZone Article on Underlight Marketing
- GameZone Article on Underlight Background Music