Greetings readers. I’m Mårten, the Game Design Director at Hadoque, a collective of creatives in Sweden. I co-created the core concept of the game and oversee the game design. We’ve been working on Ultros – our first game together – for the past few years, and today, we’re thrilled to show you the core gameplay and a new boss.
To recap from our reveal at the PlayStation Showcase earlier in the year, Ultros is a mystical and poetic adventure where you fight dangerous space insects and plant seeds to create an alien garden. Our protagonist, Ouji, wakes up stranded on an overgrown sarcophagus in space. She has no memory of who she is and how she got here. But the world feels familiar, and it seems to react to her – like she has some sort of connection to it. Naturally, this is when you start to explore the depths of the sarcophagus.
As part of this exploration, platforming becomes vital. Ouji is nimble, swift, and can build momentum to create a natural feeling flow of movement. You’ll have to do your fair share of jumping, climbing, crawling, and breaking surfaces to reveal secret areas.
Revealing the Ultros gameplay loop
Not so long into your venture, you’ll discover insect-like aliens that are generally very territorial and can get agitated if you get too close. They’re all part of the game’s cryptic ecosystem that you’ll take part in as you progress. The first ones seen in our gameplay first-look trailer are some of the weaker enemies called Puppaluppas. When you defeat them with your sword, they drop body parts or different organs. Ultros has a reward system for finishing off enemies with finesse – the more variety in my attacks, the better the creature parts. As you collect these, you’ll enter a more detailed inspection view of the parts, accompanied by a bit of lore behind the part of the creature. You can then consume these parts to increase your variation nutrition levels.
Also revealed in our gameplay is a friendly, whimsical character named Gärdner, and as you might guess from his name, he teaches us about some of the planting mechanics in the game. These plants usually produce some sort of fruit. There are many types of seeds to find and plant in the game. Fruits can also be eaten to gain health and nutrition. Different creature parts and fruits have different nutritional benefits – it’s good to keep an eye on this detail, as there’s a strategy for finding the food with the proper nutrition you need.
When you reach a rest point, you can unlock new abilities on a skill tree (or cortex, as we call it) depending on your nutritional requirements and what you consume. This gets used on another enemy species, PomPoms. They can have shields that you must break with a charged attack. You can also juggle smaller enemies after a combo and hit them into the environment or other enemies, which feels almost too satisfying.
Ouji collects The Extractor in the latter half of the gameplay. The Shamans used this tool in their ritual on this space station. So, it’s important for the main plot of the game. But it also provides some cool power-ups. This first one grants us a double jump. We also encounter another major character, Qualia, a mysterious figure you’ll learn more about when you play the game. Still, she has some form of link to and influence on the ecosystem in the game.
This leads us to follow Qualia, chasing her into the new boss fight we’re revealing today. It’s a huge, grotesque, worm-like creature. Like most bosses in the game, the key is to avoid getting hurt while learning patterns in their attacks, finding their weak points, and striking back when the time is right.
Following this, Ouji kills a Shaman in a chamber, revealing many more Shamans to find to break the seal that has trapped Ouji in this world. Tracking down these Shamans will now serve as the main objective in the game. This disturbance awakens Ultros, a demonic being, which effectively restarts the loop of Ouji’s journey as she awakes in a familiar place again. This will be the main mystery to solve throughout the game – you must explore different directions as you try to figure out how to break the cycle.
We hoped you enjoyed this new look at the game. Ultros will release in 2024 for PlayStation 5 & PlayStation 4 and is available to wishlist now.[This article originally appeared on PlayStation Blog]