It's been almost five years since a new Descent was excitedly announced and successfully funded via Kickstarter, which, given its appearance as a Steam Early Access game just a few months later into 2015, begs the question: where the hell is it?
Right now, the game that was once purchasable through Steam and GOG is unavailable to buy, its developer is nowhere to be seen and there hasn't been an official update since last summer. There has been mention of difficulties with publisher Little Orbit (which still has the game listed on its site), but nothing from either side of the development divide to confirm or deny anything has gone awry.
I had a quick play of Descent: Underground (as it was then called - it's now just Descent), before it was removed from Steam in 2017 and there were plenty of reasons to be hopeful about its future. What little there was looked suitably Descent-like and the early demo had something nearing the right feel in terms of control and claustrophobia - more so than with 1999's Descent 3, which suggested Descendent Studios were on the right track.
Unfortunately for the Austin-based team, the actual Descent successor was in danger of being eclipsed by the spiritual one, Overload, which had recently hit its own - albeit more modest - Kickstarter goal. Not only did Overload appear to be further along the path towards completion, but even at the demo stage it had an undeniable air of authenticity about it, which was almost certainly down to its team consisting of veteran devs that worked on the original series.
As it turned out, Overload was further along, as it was released on May 31st, 2018. Since then, aside from the announcement that publishing had been secured and the game was destined for console and PC, very little has been seen of Descent outside of backer channels.
On the one hand it's a massive shame that such a revered franchise seems, if not dead, then certainly buried. Hopefully it's status is only temporary and efforts are being made to dig it out before the air runs out. Thankfully, in the meantime, Overload has proved itself to be more than up to the task of filling in.
It's not in my immediate plans to review Overload, but I hope to get around to it over the next few months. Long before then, I hope we'll have some idea about when, if ever, Descent will emerge.
Feb 25, 2020: It appears PC Gamer has been sniffing around the story and dug a little deeper, subsequent to which Descent's intended publisher, Little Orbit, has posted an update. Essentially the two parties are having a legal spat over missed deadlines and shoddy workmanship and although Descendant Studios has downed tools, the publisher (and we can assume the developer too) is still hopeful of a resolution and a full release. Given that the game was 6-8 weeks from completion a year ago, it would be a tragedy for the game to remain buried if it's in such an advanced state.