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Taft Today

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The World Looks Red: ULTRAKILL’s Newest Layer


On Aug. 16, 2022, ULTRAKILL’s second layer came out with all the glory of its fandom’s expectations – but mere weeks later, players were already speculating on what would come next. Three layers of Hell remained, each with its trials and tribulations. Theorizers drew on everything from cryptic developer statements to passages from Dante’s Inferno to try to predict something.

Then, on Dec. 20, 2023, Steam released the first chapter of ULTRAKILL’s final act: Violence

For all the predictions, few anticipated what ULTRAKILL’s developers ended up producing. Hakita and New Blood deliberately chose new styles in Violence’s development, and it shows. 

“It kinda felt like I was playing a horror game,” remarked Amundsen senior Cole Brunger. “It’s much grittier than the previous layers. Before, ULTRAKILL never felt like it was trying to be scary, but here you can tell there’s something wrong under the skin of everything – like you’re playing Resident Evil or something similar. It’s hard to describe.”

Most of the player base echoes this sentiment – in Violence, there’s much more emphasis on the player’s desolation of Hell. ULTRAKILL’s characteristic color drains away to a grim tricolor palette. Even the soundtrack titles reflect this: the first song of Violence is the distant dirge titled “The World Looks White” until it transitions into “The World Looks Red.”

When the action kicks in, ULTRAKILL’s combat reveals a twist. Enemies like grotesque Mannequins and implacable Guttermen pursue the player with terrible persistence. They’re sturdier, hit harder, and feel different to fight. Violence’s acrobatics are, for most players, part of a frantic battle for survival instead of ULTRAKILL‘s typical parkour. In other words, Hell woke up, and it hates you.

“Violence is more difficult than most of the other layers,” said Lane senior Molly Fitzgerald. “I mean, there’s so much to juggle between the new and old enemies. It’s all very stylistic, even more than ULTRAKILL’s level design usually is. The first levels are especially so, and if you’re on higher difficulties, that’s noticeable. It really is something to play.”

Ultimately, Violence is the layer that lets the player know the glory is over. Not that ULTRAKILL is any less fun, but at the end of the day, the players brought themselves to a point in the story of destruction. The monuments of Lust and Greed, the colors of Limbo and Heresy – they’re all gone. Only endless war remains. 

“The way ULTRAKILL will end should be much clearer after this layer,” said lead developer Hakita on ULTRAKILL‘s official Discord. “It will end on this act, and there are no plans for a sequel or anything else. The story’s final progression is already in motion, and all that’s left is development.” (Hakita, New Blood)

ULTRAKILL remains $25 on Steam and There’s no official schedule for Fraud and Treachery’s release, and layer updates are eclectic in their release. Development priority is bug fixes and difficulty adjustments, though Hakita reveals progress on developer streams.

Buyers just need to remember: Hell’s still full. Have fun!

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About the Contributor
George Zemenides, Reporter