Until I Have You is a fast-paced platformer created by two developers from Wormwood Studios. Embedded in a gritty cyberpunk setting, its dark atmosphere immerses you as you race through the streets of the city you live in.
You play as The Artist, an assassin with an exoskeleton suit, out for revenge against the employers who kidnapped his wife. There are twelve targets in this reign of vengeance and each objective is met with a headlong rush through their territory, killing along the way. Levels will kill you countless times but keep you hooked, itching to get to the end of the road.
As a story-driven game, each stage (there’s one for each target) begins and concludes with a fully-voiced cutscene. The pixel art in these scenes is gorgeous and it really immerses you in the mysterious tale that unfolds, although the voice-acting and script can make it seem like a parody of teenage angst on the part of the main character (Kylo Ren, eat your heart out). The developers say that a certain level of angst is intentional, but it can still make you roll your eyes in places.
But it’s primarily a platformer and this means it’s mechanics that make the game. And, despite some issues, Until I Have You certainly holds its own with some clever concepts.
There are three options for how to control the game: mouse and keyboard; keyboard only; or controller. As with many similar games, playing with a controller is the best way to play; if you play with the mouse, your pointer aims off-screen when you respawn and jettisons into inevitable death and if you play with the keyboard, your speed is limited below its maximum. As a result, if you don’t have a controller you will have to switch methods frequently. Some levels are nearly impossible with the mouse and some are completely impossible with the keyboard.
You get several weapons and two major gauges to monitor. Each is introduced at a different point in the game, which means you don’t get overwhelmed by choice in the very first level.
The first two weapons you get access to are the pistol and bat, with the obvious difference being that one’s used for close-range combat and the other for long-range. Don’t be mistaken in thinking it’s up to personal preference which you use, because you’ll definitely have need for both.
You get a laser next, which is slow to charge but great for targeting the whole screen and dealing a good portion of damage in concise bursts. After that it’s the dash-gun, which is more a tool than a weapon. This adds the nifty mechanic of dashing through objects that would otherwise kill you. It takes a while to get the timing right, especially when you’re having to coordinate it with jumps and speed at the same time, but it’s an entertaining concept.
Almost halfway through the game, there’ll be two gages at the top left corner of the screen. These indicate two more major game mechanics: time dilation and hysteria. Time dilation is what happens when your suit injects you with chemicals to slow down your perception of time and is vital for even landing a hit on some enemies. You can only slow time down for so long, though, and doing so takes a bite out of your hysteria meter. Hysteria is something you have to watch out for. It goes down from 100% every time you get shot, shoot something or use time dilation. If it goes down too much, you start hallucinating – which is a visual reminder that if it goes down to zero, you die.
Bosses and their respective stages have a lot of variety in the tactics required to combat them which is bound to keep you on your toes. Instead of early-stage levels feeling repetitive, there’s a real sense of progression as you go along. Not just that, but the pace only ever seems to pick up, forever giving you something more exciting to do. Perhaps one of the most exciting levels is one of the simplest, where you have to chase someone across the city, smashing through buildings, avoiding explosions and killing enemies as you do so.
And if the action gets a bit much for you, all you have to do is go back to your apartment in the city. This updates after every chapter, giving you a living space to walk around and explore the story. Much of this is in the form of news reports and you can learn a lot from the details they omit as they discuss your latest assassination. Depending on your skill with platformers, it may not take you too long to complete the game (although it is rather difficult), so the next question is how it stands up to repeated play. The answer? Pretty well. Not only does it have an amazing techno soundtrack, but the sheer variation in levels and the fact that each has a score system will have you going back to try to improve on your first playthrough.
So it’s time to pass judgement on Until I Have You. It’s a well-rounded platformer, immersed in great art and music. Even when the story gets a little hard to follow, the gameplay impresses. It has a few issues, but overall the frustration caused by falling into pit trap after endless pit trap is overwhelmed by how enjoyable the game is and how much sense of achievement you get after completing each stage. Even it platformers aren’t your thing, it’s likely you’ll enjoy playing this.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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