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Indie Ultros - A Wholely Unique Metroidvania with a Psychedelic Flair

Discussion in 'Video Games' started by Captain Comet, Apr 25, 2024.

  1. Captain Comet

    Captain Comet Fallen Star Baby

    Shiny Space
    (Palkia Egg)
    Level 27
    Sep 8, 2016
    Basic Gary Oak ★Rage Candy Bar ★★★Jaw Fossil ★★★Galladite ★★★★
    Ultros is an indie Metroidvania developed by Hadoque and published by Kepler Interactive, releasing on February 13th of this year for PC, PS4, and PS5. Me being the Metroidvania fan that I am, I of course bought it and played it. While I normally just openly talk about whatever I'm playing on Discord, I decided early on I wanted to do something more for this, both because of how much I enjoyed it and how little publicity it got. And so yeah, let's get into it.


    General Thoughts
    In short, this game is a masterpiece. As I stated earlier it is a Metroidvania, and of course it has all the normal quirks that come with that. But it also has other mechanics that make it a very unique one, most notably being a time loop mechanic. Now it's not absolutely perfect; platforming and general movement isn't super tight and it can feel a bit slow at times because of it, but nothing is perfect and in my opinion something can be a masterpiece even with some missteps. The atmosphere, game play mechanics, and general themes are so good that I'll happily give it that title.

    Story and Themes
    The Sarcophagus. A strange ship overflowing with vegetation and creatures, trapped in the loop of a black hole and drifting aimlessly, the settlements that called it home long since decayed. You wake up here, apparently shipwrecked, and quickly learn of the repeating cycle caused by a demon imprisoned in the center. You are tasked with severing its ties to the shamans, and breaking the cycle for good. But maybe there's another way...
    So the story is... very vague. There is a certain collectible that shows you some of what happened both to cause the society here to collapse and to other people that came here after the fact and were trapped in the loop. But outside of those, you pretty much have to piece everything together yourself. That's not a good or bad thing, I just know not everyone likes that kind of storytelling. But where the game really shines is in its themes. Mortality, mental health, the art of hunting, and the psychological effects of the time loop on people are all front and center. Even when the game doesn't tell you much, the visual storytelling and mechanics gets those across beautifully, and truly make it a memorable experience. Without spoiling anything the game has a sort of pacifist route, but instead of "violence is bad", the theme is "excessive violence is bad". That may not seem like a big change, but it is. At no point does the game act like killing is wrong, instead it shows you that killing indiscriminately isn't necessary, and that there may be another way to do something if you work a little more.


    So like I said, the main mechanic at play here is a time loop. After fulling certain objectives in the game, everything resets. You go back to the starting area with no items, no weapon, and no skills, and everything respawns, including bosses. The entire game is built around this, including of of the main themes: hunting. From the beginning of the game you are called a huntress, and the combat revolves around that. You fight against various creatures around the Sarcophagus, and to get the best spoils from them you have to vary your attacks. Just mashing the attack button with no thought will only get you hunks of bloody pulp, which aren't all to useful. This is important because various foods both heal you and give you nutrition, which is how you unlock skills. On the flip aide of that, there is also gardening. There are a selection of plants you can grow that are all very different and unique from one other, and are used to help reach new areas and collect more food as they all produce a certain kind of fruit. All three of these mechanics work together in perfect harmony. Instead of killing creatures, you can feed them, which will produce a new plot of soil for plants on the next cycle. Plants grow in between cycles, you can redirect creature's tunnels so they respawn in a different place, food can be dropped into soil to form compost in the next cycle, etc. It all is clearly thought out well enough to let you decide how to forge your path, even though there are only a few destinations to go.

    As I said, this game goes for an sort of psychedelic art style, done by none other than El Huervo, the artist who did Hotline Miami. There is color everywhere and so much movement that it really feels like the Sarcophagus is just teeming with life, feeling almost like a jungle in the void of space at times. The music, while not super memorable, is very pretty and atmospheric as well.

    So going back to your skills resetting after every loop, one of the collectibles lets you lock them in place so you keep them through each reset. There are quite a bit more than you need fod every skill, so it shouldn't be too hard to find enough so that resetting isn't a nuisance.
    With the Pacifist thing, there are two endings to the game, called Himsa and Ahimsa, as well as a someone third ending that's not really important. Himsa is the first one and Ahmisa is the one that requires a bit more work. In my playthrough, I actually accidentally bricked myself out of getting the Himsa ending. Once you fulfil all the objectives for Ahmisa, it completely replaces Himsa. You can reset to previous loops, but the latest one I had where Himsa was still available still required me to completely explore one area from the beginning. This isn't really that game's fault, it's just that the way I did things was kind of unfortunate for that. I would recommend doing Himsa first, then doing the extra work for Ahmisa. That said, I did still somehow get the trophy for doing the Himsa ending somehow so I still managed to get the Platinum.

    All in all, this game is fantastic and you should try it out. It is incredibly unique compared to the other Metroidvanias, and while I don't think it tops some of the best in the genre such as Hollow Knight or Super Metroid, it deserves to be regarded near that level.

    Please note I don't normally do this and I so I have no idea how well of a job I did and I'm sorry if I didn't explain it well but that just means you should go try it yourself it's only like $20-$30 please just play it please please
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