Ultra Age – Review

ultra age
Release Date
September 9, 2021
Dangen Entertainment
Intra Games
Reviewed on
Review code provided by
Dangen Entertainment

The story of Ultra Age follows Age, a warrior in the far flung future that is the typical “Earth-is-doomed-and-you-are-the-chosen-one-to-save-the-humankind!” scenario. That is the best way I can describe the plot of the game which is somewhat overdone at this point but I digress. So story wise, it is quite the usual thread of that post-apocalyptic theme but in the sense that instead of fighting for the Earth’s future, you are rather fighting for humanity’s survival which is a great diversion from the usual trope.

The name of our hero reminds me of Edge Maverick of Star Ocean in a sense that it is so out there. It is not your usual naming convention which is quite a stand out. And this really adds to the nostalgic feels to the game.  Whether it was intentional or not, it sure is a good throw back to that era of weird and quirky names.

Then there is Helvis, the annoying robot companion. I think this reminds me of a few (ehem Claptrap), robotic (ehem Guilty Spark), floating, (ehem Navi) companions…nah just my imagination. So as for the wise cracking robot that sometimes border around being both useful and annoying, some would definitely be annoyed and even outright be turned off by his description above. However, he doesn’t really go beyond the annoying behavior that is present from previous sidekicks outside of story cutscenes and other story-related narration. So there would be no one who would say “Hey! Listen!” to you every once in a while which is his selling point. All around they make the game stand out a little bit.

Now, a lot has been said about Ultra Age, most seems to dismiss it as a typical hack-and-slash with rogue-like elements but it is more than that. Let’s take a better look at what it did poorly and what it did better that makes it quite unique. Ultra Age is best described as a rogue-lite with a hack-and-slash element that focuses more on mobility that makes you feel like a whirling ballerina of blades. Provided that you mastered the mobility and game mechanics itself. This at times is both its selling point and a thing to be wary about.

The art design, however, seems to be a PS4 port of a PS2 game granted that it has an anime-themed art style but some models still feel dated. Personally, this didn’t stop the game from being a bit of an enjoyable trot on the world. And then there is the voice acting, Age has that tone that reminds me of Barry from Resident Evil’s line of “Don’t go into that door!” There is that bit of twang that deeply resembles that. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a big factor, but it sure does add a bit of nostalgic flavor to it which is still very unique!

Now, for the bread and butter of the game, combat, gears and enemy. As for the game’s genre of being a rogue-lite, it has the trope of being too lenient in a way that aside from lost money and weapon stats it doesn’t punish you that much. While this may be a good thing for some, for hard core rogue-like players and even rogue-lite enthusiasts, being too lenient might not be their cup of tea. While it’s a good introductory game for some, overall the dying in this game isn’t as heavy-hitting as other games of the genre.

As for it’s combat mechanics and weapons, it is not too unique in a way that it doesn’t alienate people from other genres. What it gives is a weapon system that allows you to have 4 weapon types equipped and lets you change on the move even while on combat. Doing this actually allows you to attack enemies. As for the weapon themselves they are classified into either Organic or Mechanical type, whichever they are best suited for. Further into the weapon class, it is either the typical damage dealer or a weapon that gives enemies a stat debuff. This simplicity makes it very welcoming to the complexity of other games. And it isn’t just a “by-the-number” kind of weapons. Not only do you have to select the appropriate weapon for their respective target, but you have to strategically know what weapon would give you the edge in a given situation.

Another aspect of combat that makes Ultra Age stand out a bit is its dodge and mobility. I noticed the lack of blocking mechanic or parry but that is because the game relies more into mobility and positioning. You aren’t meant to tank it out with your enemy but rather dash around and dodge for an opening. This also serves as a bit of a quicker way to get around the environment when not in combat. The dash shares the same cool down and range whether you are in or out of combat which is a bit of a bummer if you just want to glide from one point to the other as the movement here is quite slow. Then there is the grapple/teleport, which sometimes feel like an afterthought of the developers. In a way, it isn’t heavily utilized like the other mechanics of the game. In all honesty, there could be a potential of chained combos when using the grapple with the other weapons. At least you can use it to get more charge if you will for your blades.

You have special skills that you could also utilize and these are the Time Skip, the Crystal Magnet, gloves that gives you a critical boost which is akin to the old arcade-y type of skills, Smart Bomb and Healing. Of these four, I feel the Crystal Magnet is the least usable of them and only practical if you’re too lazy to move from one crystal to the other. And you could even use it to get the weapon charges dropped by enemies. In a sense, its only function is when you are knee-deep from the onslaught of enemies that would at attack you all at once. Then there is the Time Skip that allows you to get twice the resources from crystals that allows you to replenish your healing charge or your weapon durability. Either way, you would need to consume  all of them wisely, except that magnet ability. You could use it as a sonar-ish add-on if that is your fancy.

The enemies of Ultra Age is a bit of a let down in the design and variety department. Though the boss fights manages to give it a bit of a boost some how. As per weapon class, you have to fight primarily 2 enemies, it is either organic, or mechs. Being organic somehow manages to give it a bit of a variety in the long run. For mechs however, aside from naming some enemies, the difference sometimes is a bit of a let down because it is a bit generic. Overall, they can be challenging when you are being swarmed up especially the range units. Since there is no way to hunker down, you have to mash your way and dash-evading each missiles sent to you by these enemies. As for the bosses in this game, mechs did manage to introduce one early on that is quite easy to cheese but hits absolutely like a truck so best put that dash-evade mastery up a notch. And the organic bosses manages to make it again to the spotlight. Having a great deal of variety on each encounter and so far none are as dull as enemy mechs. For both enemies, cheesing them is just a matter of spamming the dash-evade button.

Overall, Ultra Age IS enjoyable as a turn-off-your-mind kind of game that would deliver a good deal of fun for a while even with the bit of dated graphics and lack luster difficulty. My only true personal gripe here is that the trophy naming system is absolutely too plain. For example, if you upgrade the katana 4 times, rather than having a bit of Easter egg or at least a pun, it is just Blade Upgrade. Quite a let down. Well as of the time of writing at least. Another is that the lack of dungeons that allows you to fully utilize the Rogue-lite element of the game. As it adheres to its story, the rogue-lite element somewhat shared the limelight. If you just want that game to hack and slash in ala-DMC with that rogue-lite element, this is for you!

ultra age
Ultra Age – Review
Score Definition
It’s a good game, but the bad may be harder to ignore than usual.
Good deal of combat variety
Tactics-oriented weapons that doesn’t rely on by the numbers mechanic
Unique defense mechanics
Too rogue-lite
Linear flow of exploration
Under-utilized grapple mechanic