HomeTechnologyReview: Ultros (PS5) -...

Review: Ultros (PS5) – Trippy Metroidvania Tangles with Great Ideas

This is already turning into a bumper year for Metroidvania fans. With the excellent Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown having kicked things off beautifully, Ultros now arrives from a smaller publisher but with no small hype of its own. With a gob-smackingly unique art style and a fungal, miasmic tone, it certainly looks like nothing else out there right now, with a far more vague and player-led story than you might expect.

The game sees players awake on a mysterious spaceship, which seems to be playing host to the space-birth of a massive being called Ultros — a sort of Lovecraftian cosmic horror that instinctively looks like a bad thing for the universe.

The first hour or so of Ultros is pretty traditional, as you explore a side-scrolling chunk of map, find a short sword to fight with, and meet a couple of quirky, odd characters who give you some enigmatic information to digest. You start to figure out a skill tree, and are told you’ll only be able to earmark a few of these skills for retention between “loops”, without knowing quite what that means.

Ultros Review - Screenshot 2 of 4

Then, after making it past the game’s first squelching boss, you’ll have that mystery solved as you sever the connection of a sleeping monk from Ultros’ birth process (you read that right) and get sucked into a space-time vortex to awake back where you started. You’ll only have whatever skills you managed to mark for protection, and that monk will stay severed, but from there you’ll have to start over, making your way through to a central chamber to collect a power-up again and heading off to find whatever new route you can make it through with said tool to find your next monk.

This is Ultros’ loop, a curious fusing of Metroidvania traditions with the lightest of roguelite trappings. It’s a loop that doesn’t actually reset you too harshly, but thematically resonates as you start to uncover more details about the ship you’re on (most of those details aren’t exactly definitive, still).

Your two main tools are that short sword for combat and a little floating robot called an Extractor, which houses the navigation upgrades you’ll gain step by step as you progress through the game. Combat is simple, largely centred around a dodge system that leaves opponents open after a well-timed button press, and while it’s fairly nice and responsive, you’ll soon realise that enemy variety is sorely lacking. The game also has little to no difficulty curve; bosses are consistently really straightforward and enemies easily overcome, with the only real barriers we ever encountered proving far more often to be navigational ones.

Ultros Review - Screenshot 3 of 4

As you kill buzzing beasties, you’ll pick up body parts from them that can be used for healing and to stock up your stores of four levelling-up resources, a system that sounds more confusing than it is in practice. This looting brings into play one final gameplay twist, one of Ultros’ most original. You can also find and pick up seeds as you move around the ship, and plant these at designated spots to sprout a variety of plant types, some of which offer up bounties of healing berries while others offer new movement options, from climbing spots to momentum-building speed boosts.

Where you choose to plant which types of plant can have a really personalising effect on the sprawling map by the time you’re on your last couple of loops, although the game has clearly been carefully designed to not make these choices lock you out of areas you need to access unless really clearly signposted. Best of all, the plants grow further after a completed loop, and the ship soon starts to become far more fertile and full of flora, resonating with some story beats.

This bulging, pulsating sense of fecund life is in lockstep with Ultros’ gorgeous art style, by far its biggest and most distinctive success. It’s a neon-soaked, hand-drawn slam-dunk of a visual experiment, in some ways simple thanks to its basic 2D design but consistently throwing lovely designs and backgrounds your way to really sell its artistic vision. Hollow Knight is a clear touchstone for the game, and that game’s quiet, sombre tone is in some ways echoed here, but visually Ultros feels like the acid-spiked version of that subterranean world, in a really memorable way.

Ultros Review - Screenshot 4 of 4

Still, in the same vein as the underwhelming combat, the pure platforming of Ultros is also not quite at the elite level that has fans slavering in anticipation of the long-awaited Silksong. While moving around feels smooth enough, jumps are just the slightest bit imprecise, and your movement set is just the tiniest bit limited in a way that can make the prospect of moving from one side of the large map to the other a little daunting and draining.

Similarly, near its ending the game offers you the chance to take a new approach story-wise by hooking up the whole ship to a sort of intravenous network — one that requires you to move through its corridors carefully linking up nodes to each other.

This process is interesting and fun in small doses, but locking fast-travel behind it is more than a little harsh, and it didn’t take us long to give up on the idea in favour of a speedier resolution. It’s just a little too janky to avoid relatively frequent moments of gentle frustration.


Ultros boasts a visual identity that deserves real recognition, a stunning vision of alien colour with design ideas that live long in the memory. Its platforming and combat can’t quite match that vigorous success, sadly. Still, if you’re on the hunt for a unique-looking Metroidvania game that comes bursting with ideas and a modest 10-hour runtime with the option of more if you love it, few games can match it for style.

Source link

Most Popular


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More from Author

Read Now

Jalen Brunson out with left knee injury vs. Cavaliers

CLEVELAND — New York Knicks star Jalen Brunson suffered a left knee injury in the opening minute of a 107-98 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday and did not return.The Knicks called the injury “left knee soreness” and originally said Brunson was “questionable” to return,...

Health-care hack spreads pain across hospitals and doctors nationwide

The fallout from the hack of a little-known but pivotal health-care company is inflicting pain on hospitals, doctor offices, pharmacies and millions of patients across the nation, with government and industry officials calling it one of the most serious attacks on the health-care system in U.S....

Israel-Hamas war: Gantz to meet Harris, Blinken on US visit – DW – 03/04/2024

03/04/2024March 4, 2024US VP Harris calls for 'immediate cease-fire' for at least six weeksUS Vice President Kamala Harris called for an "immediate cease-fire" in a speech at an event to commemorate the 59th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama. "Given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there...

Helldivers 2 director explains how its freedom and wacky guns were inspired by tabletop: ‘Let the player do the action, and you’ll see what...

If you asked me to list PC gaming's contributions to the hobby at large, it wouldn't take long for me to hit emergent gameplay, that hallmark of immersive sims and other PC-centric genres where a developer makes a sandbox deep enough to celebrate genuine player freedom...

Where 52-point loss to Celtics ranks in Warriors franchise history

The Warriors made franchise history with a disastrous 140-88 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday at TD Garden. For all the wrong reasons. Golden State's 52-point blowout loss was the fourth-worst in Warriors franchise history, including regular-season and NBA playoff games. Here are the Warriors' 10...

Bruce Willis’ Wife Emma Sets the Record Straight About Actor and His Dementia Battle – E! Online

Make no mistake: Bruce Willis' life is full of joy, his wife says. Emma Heming Willis is setting the record straight about the Die Hard actor after reading what she called a "clickbait" article about the 68-year-old, who has been battling frontotemporal dementia for over a year. "The headline basically says there is no...

Arkhouse, Brigade raise Macy’s buyout bid to $6.6 billion

Cars sit parked in front of a Macy's store at Bay Fair Mall on February 27, 2024 in San Leandro, California.Justin Sullivan | Getty ImagesArkhouse Management, a real-estate-focused investing firm said on Sunday it and Brigade Capital Management have raised their offer for Macy's after the department store chain rebuffed...

Final NASA 2024 spending bill defers decision on MSR funding

WASHINGTON — Congressional appropriators have released a final fiscal year 2024 spending bill that cuts NASA funding from what the agency received in 2023 while deferring a decision on spending for Mars Sample Return (MSR). House and Senate appropriators released March 3 the bill text and report...

How to get Chinchou in Pokemon Go & can in be Shiny? – Dexerto

Philip Trahan  ❘   Published: 2024-03-03T23:04:29  ❘   Updated: 2024-03-03T23:04:40 Pokemon Go trainers can find Johto’s Water/Electric-type, Chinchou, and it’s a surprisingly capable battler. Here’s how to get it and whether or not it can be Shiny. Pokemon Go’s Charged-Up Research Day event focuses on various Electric-type Pokemon including Emolga,...

49ers held formal interviews with multiple O-line prospects

INDIANAPOLIS — The 49ers spent a considerable amount of time at the NFL Scouting Combine meeting with offensive line prospects. The organization took advantage of a loaded draft class of tackles, completing multiple formal interviews with the talented candidates in attendance, as well as a few interior...

Judge’s Ruling Sets Back Law Meant to Fight Money Laundering

In a blow to government efforts to combat money laundering, a federal court has ruled that the Treasury Department cannot require some small businesses to report personal details about their owners.Under a section of a 2020 law that took effect Jan. 1, small businesses must share...