Fun fact: I lied in the title. Dying resets the entire world in Uurnog, excluding a single room: the save room. Therein lies the game’s hook. Allow me to explain.
At first glance, I found Uurnog struggling to stand out amidst the recent deluge of indie platformers sporting retro-inspired visuals. Once I had selected my character’s appearance from the offered presets, I cruised through the brief tutorial and was dropped into the save room. What I quickly realised was that the save room serves as the hub world, and that I would return there quite often. Locked doors were scattered throughout the room, and at the bottom, I found a scanner and a display with a variety of animal creatures. After placing one of the portrayed animals on the scanner, it disappeared from the display. It was then that I realised my goal was to bring animals back to the save room, scan them, and complete my picture checklist. From then on, my understanding shifted from that of a platformer to more of a collect-‘em-up (is that a term?) with platforming elements. There, Uurnog stands out from the crowd.
By venturing through the doors, you break out into the world, tasked with solving puzzles and returning animals to the scanner in the save room. Controls are quite simple in that you can move, jump, and use the abilities of items. Though that may not seem like a lot, therein lies how you will solve puzzles. While exploring, cube-shaped creatures are littered throughout the game world, each with their own ability to utilize once held. Simply pick up a creature and trigger their ability with a single button press. Many of the abilities revolve around explosions, but the effects of these explosions vary from simply moving harmful obstacles to changing the form of other blocks completely. Cube creatures can also be carried through doors – including doors that return to the safe room – allowing you to solve the puzzles using whatever you can find, from wherever you can find it.
Upon dying, you lose everything in your possession; with that in mind, the save room and its ability to preserve everything inside makes your hub world an invaluable tool. Items and cubes can be thrown inside to keep them until you need them. While dying in Uurnog causes the world to reset, one quality-of-life addition makes regrouping a less stressful task: when a door has not yet been open, it sparkles. This also resets when you die, allowing you to get back to exploration without feeling like you’re running in circles.
Without going into too much detail, the music in Uurnog is truly special. It follows an algorithmic formula, allowing it to change dynamically based on what occurs in the game world. From changing speed and pitch to the sudden inclusion of new sounds, I found myself stopping to appreciate the uniqueness of each change. These elements result in ambient noises that are nothing short of fun, and this style of musical delivery enhances the entire experience.
I’m looking forward to more time with Uurnog, specifically to find out how to reach the game’s second ending. Between music that caters to your own playthrough and a premise surrounding the collection of creatures as opposed to platforming to reach a goal, Uurnog surprised me with its unique style and charm.
Uurnog is available for PC and Mac through the Humble Store.