ULTROS and the Spectrum of Surreal Sci-Fi

The Creative Abyss of Game Design: Diving into Niklas Åkerblad’s Mind

Imagine you’re on the edge of a creative cliff. Sounds pretty daring, right? That’s exactly where Niklas Åkerblad, also known as El Huervo, finds himself every time he plunges into game design. Picture this: a game set in a neon-speckled platformer world, which is basically a demonic cosmic uterus. Yep, you heard that right. It’s as wild as it sounds, and it’s called ULTROS. Niklas talks about this journey as a constant battle between introspection and sanity, a dive into the deepest, most creative parts of his psyche. It seems like a wonder he doesn’t tumble down those wells of creativity, disappearing from reality altogether.

The Artistic Discipline behind ULTROS

So, how does one create something as unworldly as ULTROS? According to Åkerblad, it involves deep meditation, a ton of focus, and an ability to sense harmony amidst a dense flow of shapes and colors. “It’s almost impossible to analyze this process with your brain. You’ve gotta feel it,” he says. But, he’s quick to add a note of caution: this method isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you’re not seasoned in the visual arts.

A Glimpse into Åkerblad’s World

The man behind the madness has seen quite a bit of the independent game scene. Ever danced to the rhythms of Hotline Miami? That’s Åkerblad’s artwork starring back at you, filled with an imminent threat of violence and yet, somehow, radiating grizzled beauty. Besides crafting visuals, Niklas’s tunes, like “Daisuke” and “Rust”, contribute to the games’ ambiance. His adventure into the digital city of hackers with else Heart.Break() introduced programming as a gameplay element, earning a finalist spot at the Independent Games Festival in 2015.

Pushing Boundaries with ULTROS

With every frame of ULTROS, Åkerblad challenges the mundane. Our protagonist, donning a glowing green helmet and a vermilion cloak, stands out against a backdrop throbbing with life and danger. This game takes coloring outside the lines seriously, purposefully cramming each scene with visual wonders. “Video games often stick to ‘green for good, red for bad,’ but I think it’s more about preference than hard-set rules,” Åkerblad muses.

The Birth of Hadoque

Åkerblad’s journey with ULTROS wasn’t solitary. Along with Mårten Bruggemann, Oscar “Ratvader” Rydelius, and several others, a collective named Hadoque was formed. This wasn’t just a team; it was more akin to a fluid band of creators, each bringing their flair to the table, united under a single name that matched their offbeat vibe.

Bureaucratic Condoms and Artistic Freedom

“Hadoque is a bit like a band name,” Åkerblad explains. It stands as a beacon of their collective creativity while allowing for personal ventures. It’s through El Huervo AB, Åkerblad’s own company, that the bureaucratic dance of game development meets the freestyling nature of Hadoque’s creators. This setup enabled them to secure backing from Kowloon Nights, propelling ULTROS and other unique projects into the gaming limelight.

The Essence of ULTROS

ULTROS isn’t just a game. It’s a cosmic journey teeming with life, rebirth, and a dash of existential dread, all dressed in the most vivid of colors. Åkerblad draws inspiration from the psychedelic and surreal, hoping to kindle a fire of introspection and comfort within players. “ULTROS is about finding your own meaning,” he confides. “Art is subjective, and I cherish that.”

ULTROS is not just available—it’s out there, inviting you on PlayStation 4, PS5, Steam, and the Epic Games Store, thanks to Kepler Interactive. So, are you ready to dive into the technicolor dreamscape of ULTROS and see where your mind takes you?

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