Until You Fall review: Still the best VR sword fighting – now on PSVR 2 as well
June 24, 2023:
This review was originally published on our German website in October 2020. Now it's been translated and published for the first time on our English website with impressions of the recently released PSVR 2 version.
Until You Fall combines explosive sword fighting with roguelite elements. The result is one of the best VR games.
After a catastrophe of unknown origin, the kingdom of Rokar lies in ruins. Fallen soldiers have risen as demonic beings and roam the land filled with wrath, commanded by a mysterious creature. As a rune knight, you'll take up the fight against this dark menace.
The journey begins in a sheltered place beyond Rokar: the Rune Forge. Here you'll choose the one-handed weapons you'll use in battle. If you die, you will be reborn in the Rune Forge and begin your journey anew, but more powerful.___STEADY_PAYWALL___
For every victory you achieve against the monsters, you'll receive a substance called Aether. With it, you can unlock and upgrade new weapons in the Rune Forge. And these are the be-all and end-all of every Rokari rune knight.
Until You Fall: Review in a nutshell
Until You Fall offers well-designed and extremely challenging VR swordplay (especially on higher difficulty levels). If you like roguelites and like to move around, you will have many hours of fun with this game.
Primarily played on: Meta Quest 2
You will like Until You Fall if you ...
- want to experience superbly realized swordplay in VR,
- like action-packed VR games with lots of movement, and
- like roguelites.
You will not like Until You Fall if you ...
- expect an open world or a narrative campaign,
- prefer seated games and
- have barely any space to play.
How Until You Fall plays on Playstation VR 2
Until You Fall was released for Playstation VR 2 on June 21, 2023. I tried this version and was disappointed.
Instead of using the graphically superior PC VR version as a basis for the VR port, Schell Games went the easy way and ported the version that PSVR 1 and Meta Quest are based on. Accordingly, Until You Fall on Playstation VR 2 features blurry textures, rougher 3D models, and almost non-existent light, shadow, and particle effects. It's a shame the studio didn't use this as an opportunity to take advantage of the full potential of the PS5 and PSVR 2.
On the plus side, the simpler graphics means that the game runs at a very high resolution and frame rate, and feels super smooth.
Check out the video below to get an idea of the graphical quality of the PSVR 2 port:
The PSVR 2 version also includes the three two-handed weapons that were added to the game for free in March 2022 (see the video below).
Those who own the PSVR 1 version will not get a free upgrade to the PSVR 2 version. I understand that ports are expensive and the studio needs to make money, but asking fans to pay again without at least offering a graphical upgrade to the potential of PSVR 2 is not fair.
If you have a PC and value graphics, this is the version for you. Everyone else is best served with the Quest (untethered) and PSVR 2 (tethered) versions. The PSVR 2 version looks much sharper than the Quest version due to the higher resolution, and also plays much smoother.
A big arsenal of weapons
Depending on your progress in the game, you will have about 12 one-handed weapons to choose from: from swords and rapiers to daggers, axes, clubs, and fist weapons.
Light and short weapons allow you to slash through the air effortlessly, while large and heavy weapons feel heavier and deal more damage per hit. You'll fight with both hands and can choose which weapons you wield in your left or right hand.
Each weapon has a unique combination of attributes and a special ability. Depending on the weapon, you can use the latter to stun enemies, place damaging effects on them, activate a shield, or forcefully repel entire hordes of monsters.
As you can see, your choice of weapon affects your fighting style and strategy more than any other element of the game.
When you step through the portal of the Rune Forge, you appear in Rokar.
The game is divided into 18 strictly linear levels and three boss battles. Once you've completed a level or defeated a boss, you'll be given the opportunity to choose one of three crystals.
These so-called augments boost your combat skills, health, or weapons, but only last until you die. If you fall in battle, you'll only be left with the aether you've gained, which you can use to permanently upgrade your weapons. All other progress will be lost.
Which augments appear for selection is random, so every playthrough is a little different. Sometimes you'll have more luck with your augments, sometimes less. What you choose will affect the game, as it will determine the strengths and weaknesses of your character and the weapons you equip.
Sword fighting is at the heart of Until You Fall and is a shining example of an excellent VR combat system.
Each enemy has a certain amount of health, symbolized by crystals, and a magical shield that protects them from physical attacks. To defeat the monsters, you'll first need to drain their shield energy. You'll do this by attacking the enemy, successfully parrying and hitting them.
When the shield is down, the monsters are defenseless for a short period of time and are vulnerable to hits that affect their health points. The game will give you a short window of time to decide which direction to strike from in order to damage the enemy, with wide, powerful swings causing more damage.
If you fail to knock down the enemy, the magic shield will replenish itself and the battle will start over until all of the enemy's health points are gone.
Parry and dodge
Now, the game wouldn't be half as challenging if you didn't have to defend yourself by skillfully parrying and dodging. When a demon attacks, the game will show you how to hold your weapon to block attacks with your own weapon. If you're too slow, you'll get hit and lose valuable health.
Parrying requires a lot of concentration at first, but later on, once you've learned the attack patterns, you'll be able to see maneuvers ahead and land hits even between two consecutive attacks.
The same goes for physical dodging. Again, the game shows you when to move and how to dodge sideways or downward blows.
The genius of the combat system is that it both guides you and gives you freedom. This makes the swordplay what it should be: neither repetitive nor determined, a constant alternation of dealing and taking, an artful dance of death.
I, the Rune Knight
When you put your heart and soul into Until You Fall, your reward is the fantastic feeling of merging with your character and experiencing your own body as a powerful weapon. It is an ecstatic gaming experience that only virtual reality can deliver in this way.
The mixed reality trailer above gives a good idea of what it's like to play Until You Fall. It makes the dull keystrokes of classic monitor games seem downright primitive.
Until You Fall is a challenging game that requires a lot of agility and quick reactions. While in the early levels you'll encounter simple foot soldiers who can be knocked down with a few swipes, in the later levels you'll have to deal with knights, armored giants, and battle mages. Unlike them, you don't have a shield and only a handful of health points.
The greatest danger in combat is your own arrogance. If you think you're invincible and get overpowered, you can lose half your health in a matter of seconds. And it's not easy to get them back.
It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to reach the final boss. If you make it that far. After more than eight hours and countless runs, I've only gotten to the final fight twice and lost both times. And that was on the easiest of the three difficulty settings.
I guess I have no choice but to farm ether and upgrade my weapons or try a different weapon combo.
On the subject of movement: Until You Fall uses a mix of fluid locomotion and teleportation. The latter is used to attack enemies, retreat from fights, or avoid harmful effects.
Although you can play the game sitting down, I would strongly discourage it. Until You Fall unfolds its full potential only while standing.
Conclusion: Great game with even greater potential
Until You Fall impresses with its extremely well-done VR swordplay and its large arsenal of weapons, which motivates you to play for many hours. A nice side effect: You'll burn a lot of calories if you fully use your body.
The fact that Until You Fall still leaves something to be desired is due to the meager content. When you die, you run through the same areas with slightly different enemies over and over again without ever seeing anything new.
If you love the game as much as I do, you can't help but want it to be more than a roguelite. The developers have created an ingenious swordplay mechanic that is rarely seen in VR games. What's missing is a real story and a Rokar to explore. That's what I'd like to see in a sequel.
You can buy Until You Fall here:
|Meta Quest 1 & 2, Pro, Oculus Rift (S)||Meta Quest Store||24,99 Euro|
|PC VR headsets||Steam||20,99 Euro|
|Playstation VR 2||Playstation Store||24,99 Euro|