I only had to take one look at Ultros to know it was going to be a special experience… I mean, come on, it’s gorgeous. I’m happy to report that it’s not a case of ‘style over substance’ either, with the surreal adventure it embarks you on offering plenty of neat little ideas to ensure the game stands out in the crowded Metroidvania genre.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Ok, strap yourself in, because this one is wacky. Ultros sees heroine Ouji waking up stranded on a strange alien structure known as The Sarcophagus, which just so happens to be a gigantic, gorgeously surreal, cosmic UTERUS that holds within in a demonic creature known as Ultros. Ultros looks to reap chaos across the galaxy, so it’s up to you to bring it down before it is birthed. However, with your role within the vicious cycle you find yourself in holding a deeper meaning, you begin to unravel secrets within The Sarcophagus that reveal there’s much more at play here than it might initially seem. I TOLD you it was wacky, but it certainly helps Ultros establish a unique and riveting premise that serves as an engaging backbone for the adventure ahead of you. It can be guilty of being a little vague in its storytelling, but it’s done in that Dark Souls kind of way that makes every little detail you uncover feel significant.

At its core, the game embraces a Metroidvania-style setup, meaning you’ll be traversing across a variety of platforming challenges, all whilst beating up a myriad of different enemies on the way and opening up new pathways with the varied abilities at your disposal. There are secrets to be uncovered for those who take their time to venture off the beaten path and explore their surroundings, whilst you’ll also face off against ferocious bosses that’ll push both your combat skills to their limit. Sounds familiar so far, right?

What makes Ultros more unique is the fact that you start your run through the game all over again every time you defeat a boss, but with the area you have explored still revealed on your map. Sure, you’ll lose everything you found along the way, but you’re encouraged to re-visit locales you’ve visited whilst uncovering the new areas that would have opened up as a result of defeating the boss. Not EVERYTHING is lost though, with a cool little droid known as an Extractor joining you on your journey – it arms you with special abilities that allows you to reach previously inaccessible areas, with these abilities carrying over between each cycle. Yes, you’ll have to find the Extractor all over again on each run, but with a greater knowledge of where to go and what to do each time, it never feels like a chore.

“The psychedelic visual style is unlike anything I’ve seen in a Metroidvania-style game before, with the vibrant colours and bizarre landscapes making for an astounding setting to be a part of.”

Another neat mechanic in Ultros involves eating the body parts of your enemies in order to gain health boosts and unlock new abilities, which might sound outrageous but somehow isn’t the weirdest thing the game does. However, it’s never as simple as just eating a body part that comes off an enemy, with players having to ensure they don’t beat them up too much to ensure the body parts are in better condition to eat for maximum rewards. You could button-mash to kill an enemy if you want, but their battered body parts won’t offer as much of a boost as an enemy that has been killed with varied combos, counter attacks, and a more stylish approach that embraces your full skillset. Combat always feels slick and satisfying with the wealth of abilities you can unlock too, so it’s fairly easy to put together varied attacks that deal some good damage.

The only issue I had with this was that Ultros involved a lot of backtracking, so having to meticulously take down the same enemies over and over again could get a bit tiring. Don’t get me wrong, the combat is certainly at its best when you’re using all of your varied abilities in cohesion, but there were also times where I just wanted to mash attacks to get through an area that I had already been through multiple times. However, knowing that I wouldn’t get the same rewards for doing so would force me to take my time with each encounter, especially since I’d have lost the abilities I would have earned during my last run. Whilst this does get easier later on in the game (especially when you’re able to lock skills in and with previously unlocked abilities costing less to open), it could feel a little repetitive during the early hours of the game when you’re just starting to figure the loop mechanic out.

At least you’re also able to eat other foods that you find across the world, so there are other ways to give Ouji a boost or unlock new abilities outside of combat. There’s also an emphasis placed on gardening, with players encouraged to plant seeds that offer varied effects. However, you may not be able to take advantage of these until subsequent runs through the game, with the time between boss encounters seeing them grow and open up new pathways for the player. It’s a clever idea that brought with it plenty of little surprises as I was playing, so it was always nice to see how planting seeds has a lasting effect on the world. And I LOVE it when a game lets me do a bit of gardening anyway, so that adds to the charm.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Whilst Ultros has a lot of unique systems at play, it also does a good job of getting all of the basics of the genre right. Traversal feels good and there’s plenty of flexibility offered through the abilities of your Extractor and the shortcuts you open, there’s plenty of diversity to your skillset to ensure combat is slick and fun, whilst the boss battles are incredibly stylish and really put your skills to the test. Ultros isn’t a hard game, but it puts up enough of a challenge to ensure players won’t find it a walk in the park. There are multiple endings to unlock based upon your playstyle too, with those who take a less violent approach rewarded for their actions, but hey, that’s better for you to discover yourself…

And of course, the game looks absolutely stunning. Just look at the screenshots to see what I mean – the psychedelic visual style is unlike anything I’ve seen in a Metroidvania-style game before, with the vibrant colours and bizarre landscapes making for an astounding setting to be a part of. The ONLY issue I had with it was that the characters could blend into the background in some scenes, but it’s a small price to pay for something that otherwise looks breath-taking.

Ultros Review

Ultros is a slick Metroidvania-style experience that doesn’t only introduce plenty of unique ideas but also looks absolutely breath-taking with its surreal visual style. It does a good job of getting all of the basics of the genre right, whilst the looping, eating, and gardening mechanics each add their own unique twist to the formula. Sure, these mechanics don’t always hit the mark (especially with the focus on eating GOOD body parts getting repetitive over time), but they never stop the game from being a lot of fun to play.

With so many Metroidvania-style releases available, it’s nice to play one that does something that feels genuinely different to the norm – and believe me, Ultros is a game that isn’t afraid to be different.

Developer: Hadoque
Publisher: Kepler Interactive
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4
Website: https://store.steampowered.com/app/2386310/Ultros/