I think I'm going to try to make this review short, because this is the sort of nitty-gritty game in the long run that'll trap you in discussions of specific interactions that tinted your own playthrough.The core of the game is its tactical combat, and there's a few really clever things that make it stand out as excellent. I'll focus on one specific one, just to illustrate what I feel is an examplar of the design thought that goes into Urtuk's tactical layer.In the game, your main source of crits (and getting crit) is "flanking" - if you an attack an enemy while you have an ally on the opposite side of them (meaning the guy enabling your crits is also having crits for them enabled by you), you deal bonus damage and can apply status effects (like 90% of negative effects applied by attacks depend on crits to trigger).This makes positioning meaningful and fascinating from the start. Did you ever play an XCOM-type game (or XCOM itself) and notice how early on you paid a lot of attention to cover and flanking, but later on you were throwing around basically magic abilities and explosions and enemies being in cover barely mattered? Urtuk never gets there. From the very start to the very end, it's simple and satisfying to use positioning-related abilities to get some crits in.Oh, there's a bunch of stuff I could mention about the game's pretty damn rich character customization, a genuine compelling reason to have a deep roster, a lot of other fascinating mechanics (in particular with the functionality of Armor and Stamina)... but I feel at the heart it's just a really satisfying tactical combat experience.There's a fair few mechanics, in particular the "ally-enabled flanking crits" and the "you can easily get some free actions between turns, but they'll be harshly limited by stamina" that I'd love to see some other future games run with (whether by these devs or others).I ended up hearing about this game in a chat about another game from a friend of a friend, and it feels like a hidden gem that'll probably permanently alter my standards for strategy games. I'll scoff at every single game that just has a % chance at crits from here on in - Urtuk did it better.
Its Battle Brothers 2.0 with Darkest Dungeon graphics. I was a huge battle bros fan but literally couldnt go back to it after playing Urtuk, because of how much more strategic and interesting the combat is. Theres huge range of units that can be built in a lot of ways with mutations, and always find some new unit or setup or strat on any playthrough. Once you get comfortable with how the game works, you can really come up with some crazy combos which becomes very satisfying. I suggest playing the hardest mode(desolation) with ironman enabled for max enjoyment.The dev is really great and listens to feedback. Active and helpful discord community. Highly recommend.
I can't say I don't recommend this game. It has I will say, however, that if Steam gave me an "Ehhhh..." option for a review, I would have picked it.I am a huge fan of Darkest Dungeon, Battle Brothers, and Final Fantasy Tactics. This game is, on paper, a perfect blend of the three of them. However, in execution, it ultimately is less than the sum of its parts.The aesthetic is very DD-esque, but lacks the sense of oppressive evil that that game possesses, or the sense of normal people in over their heads and struggling with the horrors they face. It all feels very surface-level. You could replace the aesthetic with basically any other style and the game would remain fundamentally unchanged.This feeling, unfortunately, is not helped by the writing, especially with the overworld and random events. After playing in a zone for an hour or so, you will probably have seen everything there is to see in that zone. Every encounter boils down to "Scavengers/Beasts/Cultists/Vampires/etc are doing X. Get involved?". There is almost no lore to speak of, no descriptive language to help build the atmosphere. It all feels very... empty and repetitive. You encounter people with names, but a name is about all you get. Which is a shame. There are also villages, fortresses and so on you can capture, but doing so only gives you a short-term income of resources that are honestly in most cases not hard to obtain naturally. Once these resources run out, these sites seem to serve literally no other purpose that I could ascertain, which is, again, a big shame. Once in a while a band of enemies will hunt you, and being in one of these sites when they attack will help slightly, but less than you'd imagine, given what I will discuss next.The tactical battles are good, but the battle map generation is just... not good. Most maps are a nightmare to fight on, with half the terrain impassable, and another half of the remaining being hazards that deal large amounts of damage for passing through or standing on them. It is routinely difficult to even get all of your units in contact with the enemy at all, much less getting them into flanking positions like the game wants you to. The game seems to imply that fighting in a friendly village/fortress will generate the terrain in your favor (and it does, to an extent) but honestly the terrain is continually bad for both sides so much I can't say I noticed it much.The best part of the game to me was the character modification through mutations. It's very fun, and allows for a myriad of options. This, coupled with the combat itself (when the map is being cooperative) is where the game truly shines. This, ultimately, is a solid 6/10. It doesn't vibe like Darkest Dungeon, doesn't have the sense of combat weight of Battle Brothers, and doesn't have the grand story arc of FF Tactics, but on its own it is perfectly adequate. Give it a shot. Perhaps you will get more joy from it than I did
Darkest Dungeon meets Battle Brothers
Great game that is totally worth playing even while in Early Access. If you enjoy hex-grid tactical RPG combat at all this is definitely worth it. The game is mostly battle after battle with some party management and flavor text on the side, so it can start to feel repetitive and grindy at times. But it's a fun sort of grind that you have control over and play the game at whatever pace you desire.The game has its own scaling system so as long as you aren't running around in circles with absolutely no fighting you'll be okay. But what that means is you can literally explore the entire map and node, or you can speed run through the quests and make it to the end as fast as possible. Or somewhere in between. All the different playstyles work. So if you find yourself feeling the game is repetitive, can just stop checking every corner of the map and just beeline for the villages. Or can play against some Fortresses which offer a bigger challenge than the usual standard battles as the enemies have all sorts of advantages: Height, numbers, ranged weapons fired against you from said height, etc.There are also multiple difficulties to choose from. So if you find the game too easy/hard can always reset and try a different difficulty. However, even on easy I found myself suffering losses sometimes, especially as I was still learning the game. Eventually, as you learn the game and establish proper tactics and weild all sorts of fancy equipment, you'll probably end up out gearing the enemies and be able to easily slaughter warbands larger than yours. And that is what makes the grind so fun, coming up with powerful builds to overcome challenging battles with minimal injury.As for the combat, there all sorts of fun mechanics and different abilities for each different class. There is jumping to flank an enemy or take out pesky ranged, shield bashing and ramming to shove enemies into spiked pits of brutal death and so on. There are useful support characters with area denial, blocking, and so on. You can equip accessories to characters called mutators. If the characters wears them long enough, they can absorb the mutator so that it becomes an ability, and frees up the equipment slot to place something else. It's an interesting mechanic and I love the mutant warbands. It reminds me of Wahrammer Mordheim Chaos Warbands but with a lot less frustrating RNG.Speaking of RNG, you won't find the infamous XCOM style missing a 95% chance to hit attack. All melee actions are 100% hit. Ranged are 100% unless blocked by some sort of obstacle in line of sight. This makes the game feel entirely fair and any injiry or death sustained was likely my own fault and mismanagement. Even with 100% hit rate, I never felt like I was taking too much damage. The armor/block mechanic works well, and with good placement can usually sustain little damage or eliminate the enemy first. It helps that everyone full heals after the battle so you can always reposition members to send the healthier characters to the front lines. Plus, there are some good mutators that reward health regen for killing enemies. I recommend those if you try the game (Feast, Flesh Eater). Also highly recommend the Lightfoot mutation which allows your character to swap places with an ally without ending their turn. Very useful for holding chokepoints.Also, while the game starts you off with the human faction, there are many more playable factions in the game. You can win some while on the human campaign, or get far enough can even unlock other factions as the starting party which makes for some nice replayability.Now as much as I love the game I do have some suggestions. While I love the games aesthetics, I find it odd there is no sort of visual customization of the characters other than their names. You can change their equipment, mutators, stats, etc, but I would have liked to been able to differentiate different characters of the same class through different colored skins or skins with slightly different hair or clothes or whatever to choose from. I also feel like there needs to be more to do with the massive reserves. Six characters can be fielded on the battle but I probably had 30 characters by the end of my playthrough and I never even had half of them battle. You can send characters on missions to scavenge for materials and such but it never really seemed worth it. On a future playthrough I'll probably just get rid of extra characters honestly. It is nice to have such variability and a large roster though, I do like that. Just wish it was more encouraged to rotate members rather than just stick with the winning A-Team. Having different factions to fight against does help a little in this regard as some teams may be stronger against certain factions than others.Anyways, love the game, highly recommend it. Cannot wait to see where it goes next and improves on itself. I am looking forward to playing again on the completed version when it leaves Early Access! I do hope the game finds ways to improve on some of the balance issues (some classes seem to fulfill the same roles better than others, ranged is king of DPS and so on) and the feeling of repetition and grind that sets in around the end of Area 1. Oh yeah, there's 3 Areas in the game so far -- each has different prominent factions you'll fight against so that is a nice change of pace at least.
So, you are looking for a main Turn based tactics game which you can sink hundreds of hours in rather than a time filler roguelike and you have already completed darkest dungeon and XCOM1/2?Well, then lately, your only viable choices really are Vargus, Urtuk and Battle Brothers.So, you want a polished game which you can play more than you read?Then your choice really is between Urtuk and Battle Brothers.So, you want DEEP DEEP tactical combat with incredible amounts of synergies between party members rather than just the standard melee or ranged thing?Then you only choice is Urtuk.Period. Go buy now.
IN A WORD: WORTHWHILEIN SHORT:WHAT TO EXPECT:Turn-based tactics combat. Low-fantasy world. Dark fantasy setting. Procedurally generated campaign and nodal overland maps. Amazing depth of tactical factors provide actions and buffs. Brutally gory combat. Party management. Strong range of classes. Unique pooled inventory with equipable items. Possible real strategy alternatives. Singleplayer only.ACHIEVEMENTS: SIMPLE. REQUIRES REPEAT PLAYS.STATUS: COMPLETED.WHEN TO BUY: FOR TBT FANS OF UNUSUAL SETTINGS.More info below....THE LOWDOWN:Welcome to the dark, grotesque, low-fantasy world of Urtuk: The Desolation (U:TD). A game of turn-based tactical battles with strategic map exploration, party management and RPG elements. Join Urtuk - a tormented soul. Whom after years in captivity has escaped the confines of a hellish prison, with the help of two friends. Finally free but afflicted with a terminal mutation caused by cruel experimentation, Urtuk must set off on a journey to search for a cure.Play begins by defining Urtuk and his friends from dozens of familiar classes, across six unlockable races. Choose a few paltry items from a common inventory. Select one of five difficulties and whether to play in iron man mode. Before commencing a procedurally generated campaign that stretches across several self-contained regions.Lead Urtuk's warband across an overland map. One node every turn. Discover clues that lead to where the cure can be found. Enter villages. Conquer them to generate taxes. Bypass them to avoid battles that cannot yet be won. Search the tunnels beneath them for clues, rewards or more likely something more negative. Encounter bands of travellers. Some neutral. Some hostile. Some requiring help. Some looking to slay anything that moves.Central to U:TD is a rich, deep turn-based combat system that forms the bulk of gameplay. Filled with an extensive raft of tactical factors and options such as: a 'living' environment, class-based abilities, mutator buffs and abilities, focus gained traits, combat status effects and other strategic factors. Battles are fought on randomly generated hex-tiled maps. Terrain can be terra-formed on the fly to raise elevation or deny enemies a path to your forces. Hazards can be used to impale enemies. Ravines to cause injury by charging at them, causing them to fall. Elevation can be utilised to increase the range of missile units and even more.Select six individuals from a growing warband to enter the fray. Classes have a handful of abilities inherent to them. Damage dealers, tanky protectors, ranged support, buff providers etc. Mutators are extracted from dead enemies of which four can be equipped in a character's inventory. These augment or bestow additional buffs and abilities. Merged together they provide stronger effects. By giving or taking damage, focus abilities activate on the field of battle to provide greater buffs and abilities. Limited and global in nature, these are replaced as and when new ones are gained. Additional augments can be gained through combat achievements. When enough instances are completed these become permanent. Together these can make an average character into a killing machine.THE GOOD:+ An unusual world with a unique theme and setting.+ Fight copious turn-based battles with scores of nuanced tactical options.+ Brutal gore filled combat and battle effects.+ Wide roster of recruitable classes + Randomly generated hex-tiled battle maps, 'alive' with a host of tactical elements.+ Several battle strategy options. Defensive, Offensive, Ranged, and other exotic abilities.+ A host of buffs across: weapons, inventory items, mutative traits and earn-able combat abilities.+ Buffed weapons drop from dead enemy bosses.+ Epic primal sounding soundtrack that mutates perfectly with the ambience, theme and setting. + Can respecc stat point allocations.+ Weapons and equipment can be upgraded organically by certain classes.+ Some class abilities (such as magic or healing) require the sacrifice of health by the caster.THE BAD:- Can be difficult to get into. Acute learning curve. Tactical nuances can feel complex until sufficiently seen in action.- Bleak and gory setting, theme and game world can be off-putting.- Can feel repetitive due to the mass of TBT battles.- Permadeath - characters can die.AND THE ORDINARY:* Series of overland maps, with nodal linked locations to visit.* Streamlined party management options.* An unusual set of resources to suit the despairing theme.* Nice range of secondary features: Liberate villages for income. Create medicine to heal your party. Flee or face bounty hunters. Sacrifice unwanted party members for food or blood.VERDICT:U:TD proved a strange game to play, one that paralleled its unusual world. It is entirely possible that its ambience could put some gamers off trying it. That would be a mistake because there is a pretty enjoyable game, rich in tactical detail. One that lets the player experience something rather unique.Due to the use of drab colours and despairing setting getting the most out of it will depend alot on the demeanour of those looking to play it. Personally I came away with a positive feeling but only after getting my teeth into its combat. Despite an arduous journey getting there, similar to the one taken by Urtuk himself.Without doubt TBT battles are the centre-piece of U:TD. The sheer depth of tactical factors provided by a handful of aspects were extremely impressive. Somehow the developers managed to combine all of these to deliver the possibility of implementing different combat strategies. During my time with the game I managed to fight and win battles with purely offensive damage dealers, a group consisting mostly of ranged attackers and my favourite, a defensive battle with four shield carriers that formed a shield wall to protect a lone damage dealer that ebbed away the enemy threat, attacker by attacker.The combat itself has a visceral, bloodthirsty quality to it possessing many interesting elements that lessened its inevitable repetitive nature; A different force of characters can be chosen to enter the fray. Allies can sometimes be controlled. Attacks and buffs can sometimes chain together for some amazing results. The gloriously brutal gibbing of enemies never gets old. While some enemies can even be persuaded to join Urtuk's band if their comrades are slain.Just like the world of U:TD there are negative aspects to make a player suffer. Given the sheer number of battles that must be fought the game could have done with an auto-resolve feature. The artwork proved gruesome if beautifully rendered. It put me off but, eventually won me over. Permadeath setbacks progress to force players to recover lost progress, if their party roster is weaken. Even though this can be managed by cycling injured characters, its inclusion felt unnecessary for a game such as this. Especially given that even on the easiest setting I remain unconvinced that the game is perfectly balanced.U:TD will not be a game for every fan of TBT games. It can be overwhelming and without extensive play feel as though it is devoid of depth. Yet for those of us brave enough to venture into its world, it can deliver a wonderfully tactical experience. One with some complexity and depth to its strategy thats difficult to find elsewhere. This review could go on forever but space seems to be running o...More of my reviews can be found here. | Key provided by Turn-Based Tactics