Utomik Cloud hands on – “Slightly underwhelming in its current state”
Cloud gaming is a growing sector of the industry, with more and more companies looking to throw their respective hats into the ring, including some heavy hitters like Microsoft and Amazon. In some cases, they offer a tempting prospect. For example, an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription lets you enjoy its extensive library through the Cloud on your phone. However, massive corporations trying to dominate the scene haven’t deterred lesser-known companies from trying their hand at Cloud gaming.
Last year, our own Dann Sullivan reviewed Blacknut’s mobile cloud gaming service and was impressed. Now Utomik is looking to break into the sector. Utomik Cloud will soon arrive on Android devices, allowing you to stream over 200 titles on your phone. However, they are not completely new to the scene. The desktop application provides access to over 1400 games. Fans of Utomik may therefore be disappointed by the relatively low number of games you can play on your mobile phone.
And the library is of course a crucial factor of any subscription service. And at the time of writing, Utomik Cloud’s list of games isn’t too impressive for two main reasons. First, a handful of the best options are currently on mobile, such as Dandara, Typoman, My Time and Portia, and Figment. And second, most of the other great games, like Metro Last Light, The Sexy Brutale, and The Surge, are pretty old now. Not that age naturally stops them from being excellent.
However, this makes the library of Utomik much less attractive than Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Of course, Microsoft has an advantage here, because in some cases it can add big games to its library the day they are released. Of course, it’s not something I would expect other companies to compete with, but still, if you don’t have the library to draw people in, the service is less likely to grow. Plus, it doesn’t help that the app’s user interface makes you believe there are games available that you can’t actually play.
You see, games are grouped by different criteria, with one of them being, not surprisingly, genre. In some cases, the games in the thumbnails for these categories are not available to play through the cloud on your Android phone. For example, you will find an image of Lethal League which represents the Arcade genre. However, if you tap on the icon, you will find that the game is not there. It’s playable with the desktop app, but anyone looking to play it on their phone will only find disappointment.
Likewise, some of these folders are empty. If you go to the ‘Publisher’ channels section, swipe over to the Epic Games tile and tap it, you’ll discover that no Epic Games titles are available to play on your phone. Of course, this isn’t a deal breaker, but it does detract from the app’s overall polish, which otherwise looks pretty slick.
It’s easy to navigate and includes plenty of categories to cater for all tastes – although I’d appreciate the option to browse through all the available games. I like the purple, green and white color scheme. This makes the application look calm and is not too taxing on the eyes. The developers went for simplicity rather than trying to cram in as much information as possible, which makes for a better browsing experience. You can read the game’s name on its box art and whether it has controller support at the top left of the tile. In my opinion, that’s all you need.
However, a pretty UI means very little if the games don’t perform well, and in my experience testing Utomik Cloud, it was a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes I was kicked back to the main menu because my internet connection supposedly dropped (it didn’t) and, after struggling through this, finally loading a game, endured a relentlessly choppy experience. That said, when it did play ball it worked beautifully, with only slightly noticeable input lag. It’s just a shame it wasn’t always the case.
However, as with anything cloud-based, your mileage will vary. You may never experience a single problem with Utomik Cloud and wonder what I’m complaining about. Still, I doubt the app’s current library will be a selling point for many people. Some great indie titles are available, and I expect more games to come to the service over time. But right now there isn’t too much that’s exciting.