Ultros review

Ultros review

Not your average ‘vania

A lot of times we hear the term “Metroidvania” and we think, “I’ve played a lot of those, I know what to expect. I have to keep going back and forth, unlocking new tools that let me open new areas of a map.” But in Hadoque and Kepler Interactive’s Ultros we have more of a freeform take on that idea: it’s not a set zig-zagging set path, it’s more about our own choices and preferences.

The game drops us in a 2D world and we have to defeat bosses and accomplish tasks, but because of an almost roguelike twist we keep returning to a hub world, often without our gear, but with a better understanding of what we have to focus on next for upgrades. The game uses this to get us to learn the map and where the bosses are located, and what it takes to get to them.

Mixing those roguelike and Metroidvania aspects together mean that we can approach the game in a completely different way than someone else. The map is huge and there are a lot of ways to get across it, and so depending on what we want to tackle first we might want to improve one set of skills or unlocks in our skill tree over others, which then affects what other areas we might want to head into next.

The music is great, the art is interesting, and the combat is really focused. The directional attacks (up, forward, down) feel good, and when we unlock attack strings and dodges we can really get some impressive combos going.

Ultros expects a lot of us; it’s not trying to hold our hand in a linear path but intends that we figure out what works best depending on how we want to play it, becoming more of a personal take on the genre than what we may have been used to in the past.

This review is based on a Steam code sent to SideQuesting by the publisher. It originally appeared on The SideQuest Live for February 20, 2024. All images and video courtesy Hadoque and Kepler Interactive.