Utomik Cloud hands on - "Slightly underwhelming in its current state"
Cloud gaming is a growing sector in the industry, with more and more companies looking to throw their respective hats in the ring, including some heavy hitters like Microsoft and Amazon. In some cases, they present a tantalising prospect. For instance, 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 checked out 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. They're not entirely new to the scene, though. The desktop app provides access to over 1400 games. So fans of Utomik might be disappointed by the comparatively low number you can play on mobile.
And the library is, naturally, a crucial factor of any subscription service. And, at the time of writing, Utomik Cloud's roster of games isn't too impressive for two main reasons. Firstly, 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, such as Metro Last Light, The Sexy Brutale and The Surge, are quite old now. Not that age stops them from being excellent, of course.
However, it does make Utomik's library far less appealing than Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Of course, Microsoft has an advantage here, being able to add big games to its library the day they release in some cases. Of course, it's not something I'd expect other companies to be able to compete with, but even so, if you don't have the library to draw people in, the service is less likely to grow. On top of that, it doesn't help that the app's UI leads you to believe there are games available you can't actually play.
You see, games are grouped by different criteria, with one of them, unsurprisingly, being genre. In some cases, the games in the thumbnails for these categories are not available to play on your Android phone through the cloud. For instance, you'll find an image of Lethal League representing the Arcade genre. However, if you tap the icon, you'll find the game isn't there. It is playable using 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 head to the 'Publisher' channels section, swipe across to the Epic Games tile, and tap it, you'll discover no Epic Games titles available to play on your phone. Naturally, this isn't a dealbreaker, but it does diminish the app's overall polish, which otherwise looks pretty sleek.
It's easy to navigate and includes plenty of categories to cater to all tastes – though I would appreciate the option to scroll through all of the available games. I like the purple, green and white colour scheme. It makes the app look laid back and isn't too taxing on the eyes. The developers have gone for simplicity rather than trying to cram in as much info 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 in 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's been a bit of a mixed bag. At times, I've been kicked back to the main menu because my internet connection had supposedly dropped (it hadn't) and, after battling through this finally loading up 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.
As with anything Cloud-based, though, your mileage will vary. You might never experience a single issue with Utomik Cloud and wonder what I'm complaining about. Even so, 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 arrive on the service over time. But, right now, there's not too much that's exciting.