Guts and Glory: An Ultrakill Review


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“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” – with these words, Dante immortalized his depiction of Hell in Inferno. From Limbo to Treachery, the Italian poet described Hades with vivid purpose – but despite his example, few pieces of media have followed Dante with detail. In popular depictions, Hell is too often a place of sulfurous gloom, indistinguishable from any other sinister realm. 

But there is a game that returns to Dante’s vision in all its terrible beauty, eschewing generic brimstone for fresh environments. Indeed, from Greed’s gold to Gluttony’s gore, few stories can truly say they’re hellish as ULTRAKILL.

Developed by New Blood Interactive, ULTRAKILL proudly wears Inferno on its sleeve. Following the same narrative structure as Dante’s epic, players control V1 – a half Terminator, half Doomguy android – as he maims his way through Hell’s nine layers. As V1 is powered by blood, Tartarus becomes very gory, very quickly, as the player extracts fuel from monstrous sinners. 

ULTRAKILL‘s main draw is its blistering pace; New Blood ensures that V1 stays moving by infusing the game with breakneck platforming. Whether players slide through azure ruins or double-jump off cursed pyramids, they’ll be engaging with the environment in creative ways to build up style. Rewarded with weapon upgrades for such finesse, gamers are encouraged to reach even gorier heights. 

“I try to make different enemy combinations,” explained head developer Hakita Patala in an interview with Into the Blue Sky.” (BroadestofSwords, ITBS)  “It makes players improvise and think on the fly when they’re in new situations.” 

Parkour plays off V1’s weaponry perfectly. No matter what players fight, the game’s design always provides opportunities to creatively brutalize foes. In what other games can you punch your bullets hard enough to cause explosions? Or shoot a laser into coins to snipe a wayward angel? These tricks are routine for ULTRAKILL, and expert players can chain them together effortlessly. 

“It’s hard to do cool stuff at first,” confessed Taft senior Laith Ahmed. “In a way, the game is almost platforming first and shooting second. Starting off, you can barely jump around, but by the end, you can run circles around any enemy.”

Each layer culminates in spectacular bosses straight from the pages of Inferno. In the first act alone, V1 confronts Cerberus to blast out of Purgatory – and the game only ups the ante from there. Between the brutal fighting, there’s always tricks that players can use to carry the day. Parrying is especially important, and it can reach truly ludicrous heights.

The game encounters are tied together by a splendid soundtrack. Composed by Hakita with cameos from musicians like KEYGEN CHURCH, ULTRAKILL’s songs pulse with the rhythm of combat in a variety of styles. Owing to the game’s Christian inspiration, multiple tracks feature unconventional instruments like organs. It might sound a bit much, but the in-game experience is premium.

“A lot of people say the soundtrack has an amazing feel,” said  Hakita in his Into The Blue Sky interview.  (BroadestofSwords, ITBS) “That’s probably because of how loud and raw the game’s audio is. It feels like everything’s clipping and players like that.”

Ultimately, everything about ULTRAKILL unapologetically reconstructs Hell with great passion – and there’s more to come. The game is released in chapters: the first two go from Limbo to Heresy, with copious amounts of secret content. The final act will tackle the circles from Violence onwards, terminating with Satan in Treachery. 

“I’m really excited for the final update,” noted Taft senior Stoyan Krivoshik. “What we have so far is amazing and only gets better with each playthrough.”

ULTRAKILL is currently 25 dollars on Steam, and is likely to go up in price when Act III releases. If you want to get it for less, buy it on Humble Bundle or wait for a sale. The closest discount starts Dec. 21 and runs until Jan. 4; it will likely be 18 dollars. 

If you decide to buy, remember: hell is full, and blood is fuel.