These days streaming and digital rental services are all the rage. While most of us can name several services which focus on TV or Film, very few could name many which focus on games. This seems to be an untapped market and is the opportunity that subscription based company Utomik is going after – becoming the Netflix of video games.
The service lets you play any game you want for a monthly fee. With just one click. It’s ambitious and already boasts over 725 titles. These cover a variety of genres and range from AAA titles to innovative and curated Indie games. A single user monthly subscription costs less than a budget title and a family plan is cheaper than an indie game.
How Utomik Works
In order to access Utomik’s ever growing game library (roughly 30 new titles are added each month), you download a simple client onto your PC. Once you find a game and click on “play” the client cleverly downloads small chunks of the game. You start playing long before the entire game to installs, something which plagues owners of the modern console generation at the moment. While you play, the rest of the game downloads in the background unlike other game streaming services. Once it’s done there is no chance for lag due to the game being on your computer rather than a cloud based system such as PSNow or OnLive.
In practice, this works incredibly well. Utomik does a fantastic job of letting you start with very little loading time. Larger games such as Saints Row 4 and Star Wars The Force Awakens take a little while longer to start but still considerably less than the full 4GB download.
Using the Client
The client is incredibly intuitive to use. The home screen is easy to understand and searching for games is a snap. You can select a particular genre or pre-populated list (e.g. “Most Popular” or “Highest Rated”). If you search for a game which isn’t available it will helpfully offer similar titles. This helps find new games to try out which is nice because as I mentioned, there is a surprising number of indie games that you might have missed. Once you select a game you click ‘play’ with smaller games starting in about 20 seconds.
All this is great, but if the choice of games is poor, why use the service? Thankfully there are some fantastic titles to choose from. Personal highlights include:
The Batman Arkham Series
The titles included are Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. Two of the greatest superhero games developed. Jammed with enjoyable and captivating plot mechanics featuring virtually every character in the Batman Universe, satisfying combat with rewards for extended combos and intricate and fiendishly clever level design. These series of games have been my favourite and contain some fantastic set pieces. Battling through The Scarecrow’s hallucinogenic nightmare sequences is a masterpiece of design and scripting.
Star Wars : Knights of the Old Republic 1 + 2
Utomik features multiple Star Wars titles, from Jedi Academy to Battlefront II. The highlight of their extensive Star Wars section is the seminal RPG masterpieces from Bioware. These games redefined the RPG genre and gave fans the Star Wars experience that they craved. Set in a longer time ago than the original trilogy, these games tell the stories of the original conflict between the Sith and the Jedi. Full of strong characterisation and a gripping plot coupled with a rich RPG experience, these titles are must plays!
Back to the Future – Telltale Games
A movie franchise which I completely adore. The Back to the Future trilogy is a series which I (like many others) hold with great affection in my heart. Telltale games have crafted a worthy successor to the films in this point and click adventure. You take on the role of Marty McFly and with Doc Brown’s help must travel through space and time to set things right again. One of the highlights of this game was hearing Christopher Lloyd reprise his role as Doc Brown. Essential for any fans of the film or classic adventure genre.
Little Big Adventure
Something that Utomik excels at in its game library is the inclusion of truly classic PC games. Games which no longer work on the operating systems of today that you want to play – just for old times’ sake. Games like Little Big Adventure. You play as Twinsten, who has been having some rather bad dreams. Death and destruction fill his mind. He begins to tell others. He ends up imprisoned by Dr. Funfrock and becomes certain that these are not merely dreams. This game was one of the greats in my youth. Full of interesting and strange locations to explore. This is a fantastic and challenging adventure game which I’m glad to see still survive.
Utomik has an obviously serious commitment to the indie scene. There are already hundreds of popular indie titles to choose from and they’ve recently entered into an agreement with stellar indie publishers Curve Digital to add some of their award winning titles.
Hue is a fantastic puzzle game which stands out with bold colours and backdrops. In fact colour is key here. In a unique twist, you change the colours of the backgrounds in order for your character to progress. It sounds strange on paper, but works incredibly well in practice. Critically acclaimed and extremely popular. This game is on my play list.
You clean up murder scenes for the mob. It’s the 1970’s and there’s never been a bigger boom in the ‘cleaning’ industry. Move undetected past the police and bystanders as you vacuum up blood and hide bodies. Serial Cleaner is a critical darling for its fast pace and style. This will definitely be an indie game I will be playing when it reaches Utomik’s library.
These are some of the initial titles that this agreement will bring to the library in the near future. It’s been confirmed that title such as A Flame in the Flood, Stealth Bastard Deluxe and Pumped BMX+ will also appear.
Utomik has a fairly standard, affordable pricing structure. They offer a Single User plan that allows one individual access to the streaming library for a cost of $5.99 a month. The Family Plan allows four users to the site at one time and also offers parental controls. Both pricing options offer a 14 day trial of the service. Your subscription can be cancelled during that time period without incurring any extra cost.
Overall I found the service to be stable and intuitive with a vast library of games. It let me dip in and out of titles easily. It’s specifically tailored to the PC market and features an enjoyable eclectic mix of titles quite distinct from other streaming services.