Games of the Year

Urtuk The Desolation

Urtuk The Desolation Screenshot 1
Urtuk The Desolation Screenshot 2
Urtuk The Desolation Screenshot 3
Urtuk The Desolation Screenshot 4
Urtuk The Desolation Screenshot 5
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This tactical open-world turn-based fantasy RPG will definitely appeal to fans of the genre. Send your adventurers to explore the ancient ruins. Hire new explorers, examine the corpses of a fallen enemy, and try to survive in harsh conditions.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

I felt a little dirty having completed Urtuk but not leaving a recommendation, despite it being such a hidden (if unpolished) gem, so here goes.
Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way first: Hurr durr, it looks like Battle Brothers with a Darkest Dungeon aesthetic. I know. But those two games are pretty unhelpful comparisons because they both rely heavily on RNG as a crutch for both difficulty and variety in combat - in both of these games you can pick the objectively best course of action and still have a 5% chance of getting critically fistf****d by RNG. Urtuk does not need to do this because of the large variety of enemies, their passive and active skills, and the interactive nature of the fairly large pool of map layouts.
The difficulty presents itself in the amount of variables you have to take into account when you make decisions - you have a lot of options available to you, and you can spend many hours in the game and still feel like you're getting progressively better at making decisions. This is, in my opinion, the core of what makes a good strategy game - and that's exactly just what Urtuk is.
I feel like that needs spelling out: This is all Urtuk is.
Consider that a compliment as well as a bit of a warning - A small indie team made this game (one guy). Story, voice-acting, world-building... all the fat, fluff and filler went out the window to make a robust combat system. You'll need the mindset of "I'm here to make interesting tactical decisions for the next 50 to 70 hours and that it". Waiting for plot-twists, character development, romance options and interactive minigames will leave you disappointed and the game will quickly feel monotonous and the encounters become repetitive.
But play this game for the right reason, exclusively tactical combat, and there's a lot of fun to be had in the diversity of how you build your party roster and individual characters. The AI is a little abusable, but it won't break the game before you have played enough to get your moneys' worth of playtime, and honestly I think that criticism can be targeted at most tactical games that doesn't rely on RNG to invalidate your decision-making.
Anyway, easy recommendation. Hopefully the dev will calm down being such a cool dude and start working on something I (brainwashed consumer that I am) can pay for rather than free content. Would love to see Urtuk 2, maybe with just a little more fluff to break the monotony next time. I'm sure Urtuk 2 would go mainstream if it just had a flesh monster dating minigame.

Review from Steam

Fantastic game that does a lot of things right:
- Minimal story. The absolute last thing I want in a tactical combat game is an overload of lore standing between me and the next fight. Urtuk has enough lore to set the scene, but doesn't bother me with walls of text.
- Lots of playable creatures and factions. Pretty much any creature you encounter can be unlocked or recruited.
- No RNG in combat. You're never guessing if you'll do X damage or hoping your ranged attack hits. You know. Combat feels very fair and is purely skill-based. You just never have to rely on luck.
- Great artwork. I do wish there were more decorative objects, i.e. houses or fences in villages or more plant variety, but that's purely cosmetic.
- Lots of freedom. The Mutation feature lets you customize abilities and traits of creatures, and enhance gear however you like. There are very few limitations (i.e. a mutator can only be forged into a specific weapon type). No restrictions on party size either - if you want a band of 40+ characters, you can have it. Or slaughter some for resources.
The one thing I'd like to see changed or otherwise addressed: Creatures don't have skins. There are plenty of banners to pick from to tell them apart, and each creature type can unlock a champion skin, but sometimes it is still difficult to see who is who if all are piled up in one spot or partially covered by larger creatures. Darkest Dungeon-style skins with different colors would help a lot. It's a very minor issue and mostly a cosmetic one though.

Review from Steam

Decent game, but has some issues.
Biggest, is that it is incredibly grindy.
Mutator grind - RNG to get them, and you need to get each to drop 4 times to not give a serious health debuff, or need ~25 battles to absorb. A few to start the process, then ~20ish to actually absorb.
Then your guys need traits, and these are finicky to get, and get harder to get as the game progresses, making it much more of a pita to swap to a new character. Executioner - when an enemy has less than 40% hp do 3x damg. To get: Kill an enemy with 50%+ hp in a single strike. 6 times, or more, as you actually need to get it to start tracking them.
Still, it is pretty fun, and does scratch that tactical itch. If you're looking for a new tactical rpg, it'll def fill that want.

Review from Steam

The game is like into the breach meets battle brothers, with the style of Darkest Dungeon. The battles and tactics are so good. I have to force myself to stop playing, because I consistently have that "one more battle before I quit" feeling. Highest recommendations! So glad I discovered this game.

Review from Steam

Urtuk: The Desolation is a turn based tactics game set in a dark fantasy world. Urtuk, your main character, has escaped from some kind of prison and is searching for a cure to whatever was done to him.
As you travel around the world map, you can accept missions to defend NPCs who are being attacked by monsters, and can capture villages to gain crafting resources. Battles take place on maps that are divided into a hex grid, and they usually involve a large number of characters. Your active party can include up to six characters, and you’ll often be supported by a few friendly NPCs, but the enemy will still outnumber you.
Enemies include Human bandits, mutants, swamp creatures, vampires, crystal men, and more. There are lots of character classes which use different types of weapons and abilities. Generally speaking they fit into the usual roles of tank, damage dealer, ranged, and healer, but you can also recruit some of the monsters who have special abilities.
Map layouts have a big influence on tactics. Sometimes you’ll be able to defend narrow chokepoints between barricades to reduce the number of enemies who can get into melee range. Most maps have some spike pits which your shield wearing characters can bash enemies into for an instant kill.
The game has a permadeath system. When one of your characters loses all their health, they’re knocked out of the battle and they become injured. Getting knocked out again while injured results in death. You can use medicine to heal the injury, but the more times a character gets injured, the longer it takes them to fully recover, so its important to build up a strong squad of characters to rotate your lineup.
Keeping characters alive during a battle can be challenging. The biggest damage dealers, who wield two handed weapons, can’t wear any armour, so they lose lots of health from every hit. Priests can cast healing and protection spells, but they have no mana so they sacrifice their own health, and then regenerate when enemies die.
The other thing that makes this game quite challenging is the AI is very good. Enemies often focus their attacks on your characters who have low health or armour, and they’ll take any opportunity to knock your guys into the spike pits if you stand too close.
There are a couple of other mechanics which can put the odds back in your favour. In addition to finding or buying better weapons and armours, you can also equip mutators on your characters to give them some passive bonuses such as increasing critical attack chance, critical attacks inflict extra bleed or poison damage, regenerate health after killing an enemy, etc. During battle your characters build up a focus meter, which then lets them use a special ability such as a double attack, guaranteed critical, protection from the next hit, or regenerate health.
It took me 36 hours to finish the campaign, and I didn’t have any bugs, crashes or framerate problems. It might be possible to complete faster because most fights are optional, but the first time I tried to beat the second boss I found it very difficult, so I spent a few hours levelling up before trying again. Towards the end of the campaign the combat started to feel a bit repetitive. Part of the reason for this is that there’s almost no story, so the game is focused entirely on combat.
However, I enjoyed most of my time playing Urtuk, so I definitely recommend this to fans of games which feature turn based combat.

Review from Steam

One of the best Party Turn-Based Tactics games I've ever played. This is a genre that I've loved since Ogre Battle and FFT. This is very high praise from a veteran fan of the genre. It's hard to make a comparison, because although is does have some elements of other TBT games, it is very much unique.
Really creative mechanics and character growth. Interesting battles and enemies.
The developer is very active in the community. Listens/responds to comments and allows the players to have a voice in the development of the game.
They removed a lot of the RNG that comes with most tactical games, but the battles still feel intense.
Everything in the game is rewarding; your character choices, your build paths, the battles you choose to take, and your strategies in each battle.
The highest difficulty in the game doesn't just fill the game with damage sponges or overpowered units. The enemies develop new strategies and have new abilities, but your characters also have access to new and powerful abilities. The highest level of difficulty is how the game was designed to be played, I think, but has a nice progression for new players not familiar with the genre.
Cannot recommend the game enough.

Review from Steam

A hidden gem and a Best Turn Based Strategy next to Battle Brothers in recent years.
At the moment there is 8 distinct factions with dozen units in each of them.
You pick 3 units from human faction at first, and unlock 7 other factions later. You can field up to 6 units from your roster on the tactical map, 3 that you started with and dozens more recruited on the map, each of them with different role, skill and abilities
In addition to that, you can collect ''mutagens'' after each fight, evolve them and feed them to your units, making them stronger and tailoring them to your desires.
Sadly world map don't have much to offer compared to Battle Brothers. It's not open world, just a points of interests refilled with time.
Where the game shines the most is the tactical combat, with tactical map that includes terrain obstacles and interactions with them i've never seen before. For example, your ''tanks'' or ''off tanks'' can be a best early game team killers with their ''push'' or ''charge'' into the death pits abilities. It all depends from You, the player how those abilities become utilized.

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