Until You Fall is a VR hack & slash rogue-lite that will make you feel like a dual-wielding badass in no time. Try to get as far as you can, fall and rise again to perform a little better each run.
Being a VR game, one thing I immediately appreciated is that Until You Fall foregoes the typical “floating hands” standard that other virtual reality games often seem to prefer. Here, you have full-body representation in the game and even though only your hands are really tracked, it’s still nice to be able to look down and see your other limbs still accounted for.
I say “still”, because you’ll be getting sliced and dismembered soon enough because as the title might suggest; you’ll inevitably fall.
If you want to postpone your demise as long as possible, you’ll need to use all the tricks in the book: dashing away, parrying incoming attacks or dodging them altogether. It’s certainly an immersive experience when you get to do this in VR and actually feel the effects of the exercise after a longer playing session.
Until You Fall is almost exclusively a combat experience, dropping you into small environments with a random set of enemies to defeat, gradually getting harder. After each zone, you’ll get to pick from three possible rewards, ranging from extra health to weapon augments or currency that you can use to spend on new gear and upgrades at base camp.
It’s a roguelike, so the game expects you to die sooner or later and while some of your upgrades will be lost after each attempt, you can still level up your preferred gear or buy new weapons after each failed run.
It’s especially nice to see the variety of weapons, like a glove that has a powerful blast ability when charged but it comes with the trade-off of not being able to block. Each player is free to choose their own style and stick to it, unlike some other roguelikes where your character will default to the same basic equipment each time.
The enemies you encounter will have all have some form of guard up themselves, and you can only start slashing away at their health when it’s down. The aforementioned glove is my favourite method of dealing with this as it emits a blastwave that knocks all of your foes to their knees, waiting to be finished, but it will take time to recharge the ability.
More commonly, you’ll have to wait for an opening by first blocking their attacks or dashing into them. You get 3 dashes by default and they can be used to get around the levels more quickly, but they’re best used to dash away from enemies or bash straight into them to knock their guard down.
When you don’t have an active dash available, you walk really slowly but luckily you get an infinite amount of them when there aren’t any enemies around, so don’t worry about having to crawl your way through the levels.
Between the blocking, attacking and dashing, you really start to feel like a competent killing machine and the starting enemies will soon feel like pushovers. Heck, even the mid-bosses that you struggle against early on will become nothing but little bumps in the road.
I would have liked to see a bit more enemy variety though, the majority of them are just humanoids and the game gets considerably more interesting when it introduces boss fights that stray from this path. It’s a shame there are so few of them.
Visually, the enemies and the weapons all look great, but the environments are lacking a bit in detail. While they’re obviously not the focus of the game, other than a colour shift I didn’t really have the feeling that I was exploring through a large world.
I was surprised to discover that most of the game isn’t randomly generated. As far as I can tell, the level layout seems to be the same each run, as well as the enemies you encounter in them. There’s the obvious upside of being able to prepare better for each run, but on the other hand, it does get repetitive quicker than most other roguelites.
Lastly, I’d also like to mention the awesome, pulse-pounding synth-wave soundtrack. I didn’t realize I was into this genre, but between Until You Fall and BPM (Bullet Per Minute), I’ve grown quite fond of it. If you’d like to give it a listen: I’ve also got good news, the soundtrack is free to download on Steam!
Until You Fall delivers on its promise and makes you feel like a dual-wielding VR champion. It’s the perfect fit for a virtual reality arcade experience if you want to go for a few quick runs, but eventually, the repetitive nature of the genre will catch up.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on Oculus Quest 2. Review copy provided by the developer.