Until You Fall is a rogue-like sword fighting game that stole my heart when I first demoed it at PAX West this year. The game, developed by I Expect You To Die studio Schell Games, has tapped into all of virtual reality's strengths to create an experience that, for my money, sells VR better than any other game I've ever played.
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The game is in early access on both Steam and the Oculus Store, so we'll be holding off on a full review until the game is content complete. Instead, I'd like to share the details of Until You Fall that make it the perfect VR game to play casually, to grind, and to show friends and family the potential of the VR platform itself.
Until You Fall (Over Because You're Exhausted)
Until You Fall is a dual-wielding, hand-to-hand combat simulator that will convince you within the first five seconds of playing that you are a trained, battle-hardened warrior fighting for your life against the armies of the undead. The fluidity of the one-to-one motion along with the incredibly fine-tuned feedback is designed to make you feel like an absolute badass on the battlefield. Hacking, slashing, charging, dodging, blocking, and unleashing super attacks to defeat more and more powerful enemies is both an incredible endorphin rush and a real workout.
As it should be. In my opinion, VR isn't really doing the immersion thing if you're still sitting on your couch, moving your arms around as if you're fighting. Until You Fall engages your mind and body in a way only VR can. Of course, you can still play the game sitting for the sake of accessibility (which I really appreciate) but if you're able to get up and fight, you're going to have an incredible experience.
Rogue-Like Is The Chocolate To VR's Peanut Butter
The best VR games, like Beat Saber, Tetris Effect and Super Hot, are bite sized experiences designed for short play. The truth is that most people can't go very on a VR session because its a physically taxing experience that can, overtime, lead to headaches or nausea for some people. Those session-based games are great, but offer little by way of progression. Longer campaigns, while there are some good examples, tend to feel like too much of an undertaking for VR.
Until You Fall is a rogue-like that offers progression during each run and permanent progression in the form of new weapons and weapon upgrades between runs. This gives it that bite-sized attraction that games like Beat Saber have while also offering progression and addicting "just one more round" game play.
The Sights And Sounds Are Absolutely Mind Blowing
Until You Fall has a eye-popping neon color palette and gallons of particle effects that completely wash you in dark fantasy bliss while you play, especially on Oculus Rift S. You have a full body model, which is something I've never seen in other VR games, and every time your strikingly ornate weapons magically appears in your hands amidst swirls of white light you'll feel an intoxicating rush of delight.
I mentioned before how everything seems perfectly tuned to make you feel badass, and that starts even before combat when you summon your weapons and doesn't end even after your final strike. After clearing each room of enemy soldiers, you can select one of three upgrades by reaching out, grabbing it, and squeezing it until it explodes into a brilliant burst of swirly light that you'll adsorb to empower you. My god does it empower you, both literally and figuratively. Every battle you win and upgrade you absorb feels like taking the biggest swig of Mike's Secret Stuff.
The feedback you get when you stagger an enemy with an axe or unleash a combo with your sword is just so incredibly satisfying. You can't literally feel the impact of your hits, but audio cues and visuals work together to tell you that all of your hits have a huge impact. Until You Fall minimizes the disconnect between your body and your virtual interactions with such grace and style that engaging with the game starts to feel like a natural extension of your body, like we've always been promised VR would.
Did I Mention This Game Is Crazy Hard?
In a good way, obviously, just like a rogue-like should be. I've barely made it to the second boss after nearly 10 hours of grinding. I'm learning though, and I'm taking less and less hits from enemies I'm familiar with. I'm getting surrounded a lot less, I'm using my dash attack and supers to make room for myself by stunning enemies and repositioning. I've learned the attack patterns of all the early enemies and can block their hits flawlessly, I feel like a killing machine knocking down the minor enemies in one hit with my upgraded axe. I'm unstoppable, until I fall.
Every time the game beats me down, I learn something new about my opponents and I'm right back into the fray, hacking and slashing my way to victory. Until You Fall is a demanding game and rewards you for your persistence.
There are new weapons being added to the game regularly and there is a fantastic community on Discord that is totally down to talk strats and builds anytime. They run game contests and challenges regularly so now is the best time to get into the game. If you have a VR you have to play Until You Fall. If you don't have a VR, well, get one and play Until You Fall. This is what VR is made for.
A review copy of Until You Fall was provided to TheGamer for this preview and was played using the Oculus Rift S. Until You Fall is available in early access on Steam and the Oculus Store.