Hello! For this week’s indie game review I checked out Urja by Hadriayork. This is a first person not quite stealth, so let’s say sneaky, zappy/shooty/bomby game that merges itself with chess…….sort of. Before I get into it, I want to mention that I contacted these developers just like I contact anyone before reviewing their game. I like to give them a heads up, because it’s polite. It also gives them a chance to inform me a bit about the game, or the status of the build, etc. In their affirmative reply they let me know that this game is “a hard game”. They did not oversell that point.

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Here’s their quick description from the game page:

Urja is fun, fast paced and challenging. This puzzling first person shooter will transport you into 12 beautiful worlds where you will try to strike the balance between stealth and tactical strategy to reach the top of our global leaderboards and take part in community competitions for real life prizes! The objective is simple; destroy all the entities as fast as you can. There are many different ways to approach each world and with intuitive AI every game will be different.”

Impression

This is a hard game. You start out as a pawn moving about in a 3D environment of your choosing (by name). It’s a little weird to determine where to go first, but difficulty is the name of the game here. I read the primer, but it didn’t’ mention charging up my “pawn” via the orbs that were lying around. THAT would have helped a lot. Other than that I understood that I needed to sap the energy of/take over the bodies of the other higher ranking mobile chess pieces. The ultimate goal being to destroy the other pieces. My first kill happened after roughly 12 deaths. My next one came 6 deaths after that. This IS hard. I really want to say that this is a poorly designed difficulty curve, BUT the devs say this is a hard game, so they made it that way. IF you want something easier, play something else, but if you want hard, this is your jam.

If this were a drinking game it would have to revolve around getting kills if I wanted to keep myself alive. Winning a level would involve doing a keg stand.

Game play style

This is a first person chess-tacular, ghost buster beaming, bodysnatching “I hate myself” sort of game.

Story:

Not a whole lot of story here in this one. Mainly the lead in for the game description on the main page is what you need/get. Story won’t help you survive son.

Visual style:

All of the maps are 3D with textured obstacles and slightly washed out/over saturated lighting giving a harsh look to the carved looking environments. Unless its’s a foggy sort of environment. It’s not necessarily a critique; chess pieces are after all usually angular and can be carved. The environments definitely fit that. They are bit flat, but you have to survive long enough to view them to get super uppity about it. The complexity of the maps also just depends on the level. The UI is a bit lacking. It was actually hard to see the buttons on the interface for the main menu. The level select is sparse but direct.

Audio:

Lots of Free Sounds™ in here. It was really hard to hear the draining sound that you use, which was a bummer because it is the main interaction sound and could have added a lot to the overall experience. Most of the sounds were similar to one another and there was not music or ambient sfx, so the sound scape was a little dead. The charge up for your right click…..Let’s call it a spirit bomb, is pretty fun though. It actually brought out a sense of urgency. to your actions.

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Good:

There is an in-game guide. Not always easy to find in indie games.

This game will not make you feel like it is pandering to you.

Ranked leader-boards and lots of possibility for replay.

Bad.

No tutorial. Play on the terraria level first to get an idea of how to move attack and interact.

If you attack one piece, they all [seemingly] come after you. Not just the one you tried to drain, but any piece that sees you do it.

Deaths are frequent and there is no option to “retry” you have to restart from the level select menu.

 

Urja is available on Desura.com and can be voted for on Steam Greenlight.

Sean Weiland

Sean Weiland

Sean is game designer with a sorted past. Ask him where he's lived and he will give you more than 12 answers. Ask him what he does for a living and he might say "game designer" or he might say "I dance".Ask him about indie games and he will give you a dam honest opinion informed by over a decade of audio, design, and development experience.
Sean Weiland