Until You Fall is a Roguelike PSVR game that is available this month on PS Plus. Despite my first impressions of this sword fighting game drenched in neon, it is all about sword fighting. I was a little too quick to dismiss some of the onscreen cues for slicing, dodging, and blocking as mere quick time events or even a glorified combat version of Dance Dance Revolution because it kind of is.
But it’s ultimately so much more than that, it’s true that you have to respond quickly to those cues in the heat of battle but you’ve also got a ton of freedom to move around or your victims to you one by one and take them down with a combination of special attacks or by taking your time and playing it safe. Before you can even damage your enemies, you need to break their guard shown as a white meter above their heads that’ll replenish if you don’t stay on them.
You can chip away at their guard by dashing into them or hitting them with your sword but even faster by blocking their attacks. Once their shield is down, you’ll swing to initiate a combo then slice them over and over in the direction shown to knock down their HP. It sounds so easy like following simple on-screen instructions but some of the latter enemies and bosses will do their best to surround you and pummel you into submission with the succession of attacks that can feel overwhelming and sometimes downright impossible.
Until You Fall is divided into 20 short stages with only 3 bosses and your final run through the game shouldn’t take you more than 45 minutes or so but getting to the point where that’s even a possibility will take hours. In my case, it took well over 10 hours on the easiest difficulty. You start off with 2 pretty basic weapons that sport low attack and guard damage then you’ve got to go as far as you can taking down enemy after enemy until eventually dying against a stronger or faster opponent at which point, you’re sent all the way back to the beginning of the game.
Here you can grab new weapons or use currency that you’ve collected to level up your existing ones. Leveling up between runs will help you make it further and further every time but it’s also important to note that it’s your own skill that’s going to save you just as much as anything else. Learning when to block, improving your response time, and knowing how to handle multiple enemies at once is way more important than that coveted next upgrade.
What I’ve always liked about roguelikes is the element of chance and Until You Fall implements that perfectly at the end of each stage, what the game calls The Bloom. Here you are offered a choice of 3 random stackable upgrades and these are temporary in the sense that they’re only good for the run that you’re on then disappear once you die. The ones I’m always looking for are health crystals that’ll up your HP by one but there are others that will add one hit to every combo to improve your special attack, replenish your health, give you currency, and more.
On some runs, you will enter a boss battle with a ton of strength and only 3 HP but on other runs, you’ll have 8 hit points which means that you’ve sacrificed a lot of power-ups in favor of losing the health bar. At this point, I’m pretty sure you’ve noticed Until You Fall doesn’t look or sound like any other sword fighting game on the platform.
The world of Until You Fall is from another planet, the stages aren’t detailed and in fact, some of the textures are really basic but the game itself is super sharp and has some of the most unique stylized environments I’ve ever seen in a game. They’re filled to the brim with neon colors, neon enemies and the entire experience is drowning in Synthwave.
If there’s a downside here it’s that the controls will take a few minutes to get used to as the developers decided that the move buttons should equip and unequip your weapons, an action that isn’t ever necessary in the middle of a swordfight but one that I found myself doing accidentally over and over. It’s certainly not a deal breaker although the quick turning which sometimes auto targets and sometimes doesn’t is slightly more distracting.
When you take a step back from Until You Fall it might seem a little bare-bones as there are no collectibles or secrets to find. Environments don’t change all that much and there are only 3 bosses total but I’m 14 hours in and the addiction is in full swing. Knowing that you’re powerful enough to conquer any enemy that the game throws at you with just a little persistence keeps me coming back time and time again. Until You Fall is a must-play game if you’re up to the challenge and have a PSVR.
Until You Fall will be available to PlayStation Plus members until Monday, January 3.
Until You Fall has addictive gameplay, intense combat mechanics, very colorful environments, and sound. The only downside is the equip and unequip buttons on the move controller in an overall tough but fun game.