Available for Windows 10 PC and Mobile, you play the role of "John," an adventurous cave explorer who has stumbled upon the underworld of Utopia. You guide John through caves, in search of portals that help him escape the depths of Utopia.
The Windows 10 game has a time-sensitive trial version, and the full game currently costs $1.99. The graphics are a little dark, and controls are more responsive from a keyboard than using touch. Utopia needs a little fine-tuning but is a Windows 10 platformer with the potential of being a challenging time-waster of a game.
The primary menu offers a minimalist approach that has options to view the help menu, mute the sound and music, visit the game's Twitter page and jump into gameplay. The help menu only provides a listing of the keyboard controls. Gameplay is level-based and automatically returns you to the start of the last level not completed.
While there are no virtual joysticks visible, the touchscreen controls are not difficult to sort out. Tapping the lower left or right corner of the game display moves your character left or right respectively. Tapping the upper half of the display controls your character's jump. A single tap is a jump of modest height, and a double tap results in the character jumping a bit higher.
The touch controls are difficult to master. I would have preferred a single joystick to control movement on the left and a jump button on the right of the display. As is, you are always changing your hand orientation to accommodate jumps. And it's just too difficult to time your movement and jumps using one hand.
Gameplay unfolds much like any platformer game. John has to navigate across multi-level platforms that have plenty of dangers to avoid. Right out of the gate, Utopia challenges your skills at timing, and you need to have a soft touch to avoid spike pits. Additional risks include swinging axes, saw blades and more. Some platforms are connected by bridges, while others require you to jump to or from them.
Find your way through the caves
The goal is to reach the portal on each level to advance through Utopia's cave system and eventually escape the underground world. Should your character meet his end, he is revived at the beginning of the level, and there are no limits on lives.
The gaming experience with Utopia is tough, and while the game has potential it needs a little fine-tuning before it can hold its own against other Windows 10 platformer games.
For starters, while the eight-bit-style graphics offer an appealing old-school or retro style, they are extremely dark. The area around John is brighter than the edges of the screen, just enough to let you see a danger that is close. While the darkness sets a nice, cave-like mood, the game could be a little brighter and maintain its level of difficulty.
The other main issue I experienced with Utopia was with the game controls. Keyboard controls worked better, but on-screen controls were not labeled and were difficult to manipulate and easy to confuse. I found myself concentrating on jumping and tapped the right movement area when I should have tapped the left. Semi-transparent movement arrows or joystick and jump buttons would be more user-friendly.
On the plus side, Utopia offers plenty of dangers to avoid that test your skills at timing. It only takes being off a by hair on a jump to get cut in half by a swinging ax.
Utopia is available for Windows 10 PC and Mobile, Hololens and on Xbox One through the Xbox Creators Program. Overall, it is a Windows 10 game with potential, and with a little polish it should be a fun time waster.
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George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.