Review – Until You Fall (PSVR)

Heads up, the game’s title isn’t just a reference to it’s roguelike nature. It’s telling you what you’ll be wanting to do after a run at the game. Until you fall indeed. Not just another VR sword-fighting game, Until You Fall combines responsive and simple (deceptively so) controls with fleshed out roguelike elements for a genuinely strong gameplay experience. Despite some issues with repetitive environments and enemies, this game is a perfect example of VR done well and the kind of game I want a lot more of.

Until You Fall is a very green game at times.

So, there’s a story and an attempt at world-building, but I feel I paid about as much attention to it as whoever wrote it. You’re the last Rune Knight (but also not, we’ll get to that later), the protector of a land called Rokar. Predictably, Rokar fell to some evil, as all kingdoms protected by people called Rune Knights do. Now, alongside a disembodied voice called the Runesmith, you throw yourself into the roguelike cycle of death in an attempt to defeat this evil menace. You’ll face zombie-like husks, void monsters, and various corrupted members of the former Rokari military (including other Rune Knights) during your quest.

The real meat of the game is the combat and upgrade systems. As for all good roguelikes, I think (although I hear Hades is a strong exception). Do you remember that old iPhone game Infinity Blade? The core of the combat feels similar to that. Except that, instead of finger swipes, it’s you flinging your arms around like a madman. While the combat system seems simple at first, as you play you’ll discover there’s more to it. Stuns, chain attacks, weak spots, and learning to alternate your weapons properly all add considerable depth to the system. Special shout out to the music, as it really does a fantastic job of helping you find a rhythm. And once you do, the only thing that can stop you is good old fatigue.

The weapon names are so cool. Vestal’s Wrath. Mistcutter. Knight-Blooded Crest. Much better than “generic pointy sword +1”.

There are two upgrade systems: a permanent one at your base and a temporary one for during a run. Until You Fall’s combat gimmick (outside of being VR) is that your character duel-wields. You can choose between a variety of swords, daggers, axes, and martial arts-focused claws that you unlock as you progress. Each weapon is surprisingly different to play with, and you’re free to mix and match between any two. Each also comes with its own unique ultimate attack that can be quite game-changing. Once you find your ideal pair, you can use the currency you acquire during battle to upgrade their levels. It’s all pretty simple, but for this genre, simple is often better.

The other upgrade system is a temporary one that only lasts for your current run. At the end of each area, you’ll get the chance to choose between three randomly generated augments. These have a variety of effects, from applying a trait to one of your weapons, to giving you another heart of health, or just some currency to use once you get back to your base. I found it to be a great system, with a nice blend of randomness and the game still making sure you still had choices to make. Is it better to increase your health to maybe push further, or better to take concrete currency now just in case the next area has some hard hitters you’d lose to anyway? Or should you just take the weapon augment that decreases your max health but gives you a heavy boost to damage? Decisions, decisions. 

Until You Fall's upgrade system comes with plenty of choices to make.

You don’t need health if everyone is too dead to attack you.

Until You Fall is a great example of a well done VR game. Strong idea that uses the strengths of VR to their fullest, realized systems with depth and variety, and a satisfying gameplay loop that brings it all together. Even with some drawbacks, it’s still now one of my favorites to play. A quick 30 minute session is so satisfying, both in-game and physically. Because, damn, if this game doesn’t wear your arms out after serious play. While I hope there’s some post-launch support coming, as the game could really use new areas and enemies, it’s not a big concern for me. What the game has now is good enough for me. I just hope other developers see what was done here, and build upon it. It’s just what VR needs to keep growing.

Graphics: 8.0

The art style and use of color is striking, but lack of variety can get repetitive.

Gameplay: 8.0

Combat is deceptively simple, a lot of fun, and does a fantastic job of pulling you into the game.

Sound: 7.5

The music’s goal is to suck you into the flow of combat and it does that well.

Fun Factor: 7.0

Even if enemies and locations can get repetitive,  extremely fun combat and great weapon and upgrade variety make up for it.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Until You Fall is available now on PSVR and PC.

Reviewed on PSVR.

A copy of Until You Fall was provided by the publisher.