We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Whalegun for the preview copy of Utopia 9 – A Volatile Vacation used for this preview. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to preview, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this preview. Receiving the preview copy for free had no impact on the content of this preview. Due to being an early access game this preview does not have a rating score since it would be unfair to judge a game that is still being developed.
You have worked hard to save up for your vacation. You anxiously await as your spaceship approaches Utopia 9 a vacation paradise. Things don’t go as planned though as your spaceship crash lands on the planet. Instead of enjoying drinks and spending time on the beach, you have to fight for your life against hostile alien forces that want to kill you.
Utopia 9 is a rogue-like top down shooter. Your character moves from location to location as they try to reach the escape pod in order to leave Utopia 9. Being a rogue-like game, whenever you die you have to restart from scratch. Your character can equip two weapons at a time and can hold two more in reserve. After killing enemies you can collect resources that you can use to purchase mutations that give your character special abilities.
Since it is a rogue-like game, you will die often in the game. When you die you lose everything, from your items to your mutations. You start over at the landing zone and have to start your journey again. One unique thing about the game though is the fact that when you die one of the aliens that killed you will loot your corpse which will gain them experience and they will equip the items that you drop. If you go down the same path that you have died on previously you will be forced to face this stronger alien which if defeated will drop your items and experience that you had previously collected.
What first interested me in Utopia 9 was the idea behind the game of crash landing on your vacation and trying to survive in a hostile world. After playing the game for a while I found that the game has quite a few interesting features that could make for an interesting game. While Utopia 9 kind of lacks content at this time, if the developers build on the strong foundation already in the game Utopia 9 could be a great game.
While I haven’t played the game a lot I can already tell that the game has a great foundation. I actually had a lot more fun with the game than I was expecting at this stage. The gameplay is simple but challenging enough not to get boring. The controls work really well since the aiming is done with the mouse and the game lets you quickly switch your weapons in case you want to change things up or you run out of ammo. If you like top down shooters there is a lot to like about Utopia 9.
The most unique mechanic in the game has to be the idea that enemies will loot your corpse when you die. It’s about time a game has the enemies looting your corpse since the heroes always do it. It addition to making logical sense it also adds quite a bit to the game. Each time you die you end up creating a more powerful enemy that you will eventually have to face. The enemies actually use the weapons that you drop which is interesting since if you have a powerful gun when you die it will be turned against you so you need to be careful.
The one thing I really like about this mechanic is that it actually impacts the rogue-like elements of the game. While you technically lose everything when you die in the game, you have the opportunity to get them back if you can kill the alien that killed you. At first I thought this was going to make the game even more difficult since you are facing stronger aliens after all. While this sometimes is true, the opposite is true as well. This effect makes the game easier sometimes since if you can kill the alien you will get a big boost by being able to take your weapons back as well as regain some of your mutations.
Speaking of difficulty I would say that Utopia 9 is in the moderate to hard difficulty level. I have never been a big fan of the rogue-like genre since they are usually really difficult and I hate dying and losing all of the progress that I had made. While you will die a lot in Utopia 9, the game is fair about it. I really haven’t encountered a situation yet where I was ambushed and had no chance at survival. The more I played the game the more progress I made. Utopia 9 is not meant to be a game where you lose hours of progress with just one bad mistake. Most of your runs will only be 15-20 minutes so when you die you won’t lose a lot of progress.
At this point the only big complaint I have with the game is that it doesn’t have a ton to do at this time. In its’ current stage Utopia 9 is not the type of game that I would play for long periods of time. The game is perfectly functional and plays well. I just wish there was more to do in the game. There is only one world to explore and the enemies pretty much all look the same except for their equipment. Being an early access game though this is not surprising since it is typical for early access games. As the game adds more content this issue should resolve itself.
Here are some things I would like to see from Utopia 9 as it is further developed.
- More variety/content. The game has a great base, I just wish there was more to it at this point. More weapons, enemies, and other items would be nice to bring more variety into the game. Different locales would also be appreciated.
- I would like to see the story developed. At this point there doesn’t appear to be any story to the game other than the opening cutscene. The early access page says this is something that is being worked on. The premise behind the game is interesting enough that I think the game could develop a fun storyline to go with the game.
- I wish the bullet distribution was a little better in the game. While playing the game I ran into several situations where I either ran out of ammo or there was so much ammo available that I couldn’t even use all of it. I wish the bullets would be a little more distributed so there weren’t so many situations where you find no ammo and other situations when you find too much ammo.
Bang For Your Buck
Being an early access game, it is not surprising that Utopia 9 doesn’t have a ton of content at this point. Most early access games don’t when they are first released. Like most early access games you are purchasing Utopia 9 more for it’s potential than it’s current state. The game is actually quite fun but I don’t know how much playtime you will get out of the game at this point. At a retail price of $11.99 the price is not bad. At this time you might not yet get $12 of fun out of the game but by purchasing the game you are betting on the game’s future. As more content is added to the game I can see it definitely being worth the asking price since the game has quite a bit of potential.
Should You Purchase Utopia 9 – A Volatile Vacation?
Utopia 9 is not going to be for everyone but I think the game is currently in a good starting position. The game doesn’t have a lot of content at this point but it has a strong foundation for a game that could be great. I actually had a lot more fun with the game than I was expecting. The basic gameplay and concept behind the game work well and at this point the developers need to just build around that.
If you like rogue-like shooters or the concept interests you I would suggest looking into Utopia 9 – A Volatile Vacation.