By Evan Norris 18th Aug 2020 | 2,412 views
Ubermosh: Black takes the old-school mantra "easy to learn, impossible to master" to heart. A top-down twin-stick action game with gritty visuals and metal music, it features mechanics and modes that are simple and approachable, but a difficulty curve that will humble the most experienced gamer. While the title boasts an addictive "just one more" quality, it lacks the content, variety, and polish needed to elevate it among like-minded games.
Without stages, character progression, or narrative, Ubermosh: Black is very much a stripped-down, streamlined arcade action game. You have a single hero, a single arena (with randomly-generated walls), and hordes of rampaging enemies. The goal couldn't be simpler: survive the onslaught for 90 seconds, destroying as many bad guys as possible.
To go with this simple, straightforward setup, developer Walter Machado introduces an understandable, intuitive twin-stick control scheme. Players move their avatar with the left stick, aim in 360 degrees with the right stick, swipe a sword with ZL, and fire projectile weapons with ZR. You can dispatch enemies in one of three ways: strike them with a sword, use a well-timed sword stroke to redirect an incoming projectile back at them, or shoot them with one of several projectile weapons left behind when they fall.
All this simplicity is, ultimately, both a blessing and a curse. Ubermosh: Black is easy to pick up, and its rules and mechanics are immediately comprehensible. At the same time, there isn't much to the game. You'll fight round after round in the same arena, against the same enemies, according to the same countdown clock. It grows stale after a while. Machado tries to keep things interesting by adding several class mods — for example "Kensai", which adds more respawns and omits guns — but the twitchy arena gameplay remains the same.
It doesn't help that the game's field of view obscures many enemies until they're right on top of you and it's too late to react. Ubermosh: Black is a tough-as-nails "git gud" kind of game, which is fine, but at times it feels like the odds are stacked unfairly against you.
Despite its lack of variety and punishing difficulty, Ubermosh: Black can be an addictive experience. Each time you fall in battle — whether its 30, 45, or 60 seconds into a run — you'll immediately want to reboot the game and try again for a high score or one of several hard-to-obtain achievements, e.g. "score 300+ Warlock class mod". Since the game keeps track of your personal best score and rank, it's easy to lose yourself in the hunt for higher and higher scores.
Apart from four extra class mods, Ubermosh: Black features a "Hardboiled" hard mode, which seems extravagant when the default mode is already plenty demanding. Outside of those extras, there isn't much on offer. No multiplayer, no leaderboards, no unlocks. As a result, in terms of value, the game is hard to pin down. You could spend five minutes playing a few rounds only to realize the game isn't for you, or you could log five hours trying to top your personal best. At $1.99, however, it's a very affordable risk.
Ubermosh: Black is definitely a budget title, and that's reflected in its unrefined graphics and second-rate sprites. While the visuals aren't up to par, the music is quite good. Composed by Machado, the game's soundtrack is a thumping mix of rock, metal, and electronica that complements the frenzied, bloody gameplay nicely.
For better or worse, Ubermosh: Black is an old-school, arcade-inspired experience. It's straightforward, accessible, and often addictive. Yet it's also repetitive, low on content, and at times unfair. With an extra layer of polish and more substance, it could start to stand out from the crowd. For now, though, it's a middling arcade action game with untapped potential.