Urtuk: The Desolation Hands-on

Written by Hardcase


“It is only those who have neither fired a shot
not heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded
who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation
– William T. Sherman


One thing is certain: Urtuk is not a lucky guy. Why?
Let’s start from the beginning.

I don’t think we need to say something about his name… “Urtuk” is one of the ugliest name you can imagine for a person, a name that even a minor demon should consider offensive. With a name like that his childhood can’t have been easy…

But, as I said above, the name is just the beginning (well, probably not the best one…), because the rest of the story is even worse.
Indeed we know that, at the beginning of the game, our dear Urtuk is imprisoned without a reason and not in a “model prison”, but in a gloomy, dirty a stinking cell.

Enough? Absolutely not, because someone decides to do some sort of evil and obscure experiment with Urtuk’s poor body and, mind you, we aren’t talking about the “good old torture”; no way, I mean that kind of experiments that make you wish for death!
But, exactly when all seems lost and his death seems near, here comes a little light of hopes in the form of an unexpected help: an old friend breaks in the prison and free Urtuk!
Finally a bit of luck, are you wondering?
Not exactly, I have to give you one last bad news: in the world of Urtuk there are no women…


Ok, irony aside, now let’s talk about the game.

The first thing I really appreciated of Urtuk was its art style.
It’s almost impossible not to be fascinated by the graphic of the game that reminded me, under some circumstances, Darkest Dungeon. But, beware, we aren’t in presence of a shameless clone, absolutely not, Urtuk has its own strong personality and I can assure you that this becomes clear since the first moments of the game.

In Urtuk every single element is hand drawn, from the characters to the monsters and the objects, from the world map to the battlefields, and every single component of the game has a meticulous care and attention to the details! Hardly ever I have had the chance to watch an indie game so well refined is this respect. Even the animations are astounding, with a lot of details about the consequences of your blows (severed limbs, rivers of blood etc.).
Beware, this attention to the details is never an end in itself, because it helps a lot to give the right feedback of each blow and the feeling of brutality of each fight!

Ok, graphic aside, now let’s talk about the gameplay of Urtuk and its inspirations.
The first noticeable thing is that between Urtuk and Battle Brothers there are many clear similarities.
On this regard, the main idea of both games seems to be same.
In fact, exactly as it happens in Battle Brothers, even in Urtuk – in order to find a cure for your mutation and take your vengeance – you will have to recruit and form a mercenaries group and travel through a harsh realm where suffering and darkness are the daily bread of each one.

Even the setting of both games is the same.
We can define it as “low-fantasy”, so a world where magic is an exception, and elves or dragons are no more real than the peace of the realm. But if this setting, in Battle Brothers, sometimes was a limit (don’t get me wrong, I really love Battle Brothers, but occasionally it seemed forced to be too “realistic”), here the developers decided to adopt a more imaginative approach. This results into a very good variety of strategic options during each fight.

For example, the “javelinier” is a classic ranged-unit but it has also the possibility to “terraform” the battlefield with all the consequences in terms of strategy option. As I said this is a “not-so realistic” option but on the battlefield it works remarkably well!
Consider that every unit in Urtuk has many interesting abilities and this makes the fights always very strategic and funny.

Another big difference from Battle Brothers is represented by the intent of the developers to emphasize the RPG features of the game.
Indeed, in contrast to Battle Brothers where the strategy aspects are the core of the game, here we have – since the beginning – a specific goal to pursue and often also some minor quests to do. Unfortunately, at the moment, quests are very “basic” and similar and they always result in a combat. The hope is that in the future updates the developers will add some more variety, giving the right degree of complexity to the RPG dimension of the game.

What else to say?
At the moment Urtuk is probably the only game out there capable of expand (and not only “copy”!) the ideas behind a cult like Battle Brothers, trying to mix a very deep strategic component with a series of interesting RPG features.
We’ll see what the wind brings us. Finger crossed!


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True Italian with certified mustache made of pasta. Lawyer for a living, writer for passion. Turn-Based Lovers collaborator and many other unnecessary things.

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