Review: Ultra Age (Nintendo Switch)

Ultra Age is a hack-and-slash game akin to the Devil May Cry franchise. Ultra Age is set in a very, very distant future in the year 3174. The ecosystem of the planet has been altered permanently. After this event, the Earth no longer had sufficient resources for the population. Society has split into two: those who remained on Earth and those who moved to a space colony. Needless to say, those who remained did not do too well.

Ultra Age has you take control of Age, a young lad who finds himself stranded on Earth with his robot companion, Helvis. Age is attempting to figure out the mystery behind why communications from Earth have stopped. Not only does Age have a huge task ahead of him, he has to do it in just seven days or he will expire. His reward for succeeding however, is eternal life. So the personal stakes for Age are pretty high if not a little excessive. The story has a lot going on in the short time it runs. The story ranges from rogue AI to scientific experiments that wouldn’t be out of place in the Fallout universe. None of it feels fully explored or thought out, but Ultra Age isn’t the kind of game you play for the story. 

The main event in Ultra Age is the gameplay. The primary focus is the combat and it’s very well done. There are plenty of different systems working together. There are skill trees for your weapons, as well as different blades that are more effective depending on the enemy type you’re scrapping with. The weapons can be switched out as you play, helping maintain a quick pace throughout the game. Switching your blades is crucial in order to be at your most effective, but it also adds a level of challenge that is very welcome. It also makes it all the more satisfying when you string together a tasty combo. Sadly however, you cannot change the difficulty, which does raise some questions regarding accessibility. 

It’s unfortunate that the rest of the game doesn’t carry the quality the combat does throughout. In particular, the voice acting is incredibly poor. So poor in fact, that I would rather it wasn’t there at all, it really made me miss the silent protagonist. It is, at the very least, admirable that a team of 11 people ensured the game was fully voice acted, but the performances are just not to the standards expected in modern games. Helvis is squeaky, constantly creeping into the territory of irritation. While Age somehow always has the wrong tone of voice regardless of what you’re doing.

On top of the poor voice acting, the world design is basic, dull and uninspired. There is a distinct lack of variation from location to location, which is not helped by the Nintendo Switch edition of Ultra Age having stripped-back graphics. The Switch being less powerful than the other consoles on the market also means Ultra Age suffers from framerate stutters, regardless of whether you’re playing handheld or docked. 

Fortunately for Ultra Age, the gameplay and combat make a compelling case for playing the game, regardless of the quality of what surrounds it. It is a shame that the Switch is most likely the worst place to play Ultra Age, when compared with some of the more powerful consoles out there. But nevertheless Ultra Age is still a very welcome addition to the Switch, especially if you’re hankering for some hack-and-slash action on the go. 

 

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