If you could save someone, how much of yourself would you be willing to sacrifice? Until I Have You asks this question then forces you through a series of insanely difficult levels where you will die over and over and begin to wonder if the game meant to ask how much time would you be willing to sacrifice.
Until I Have You is a 2-D side-scrolling action platformer with a retro cyberpunk aesthetic (think 1980s visions of the future). The game tells the story of the artist, a talented assassin who’s worked many dirty jobs throughout his career. The artist has finally decided to listen to his wife and retire from a life of crime. However, his clients are not too happy about that, so they kidnap his wife to let him know that retirement is not an option.
The gameplay consistently reminded me of the tough-as-nails Super Meat Boy. In both games, the platforming is fast and brutal. They feature dozens of short levels, most come in at under one minute and require a significant amount of trial and error. There’s no room to stop and take a breath, basically its run and jump or die trying. In this sense, each level of Until I Have You feels like a speed run. Speed runs are usually a great addition. They make a game more competitive and add replay value. But in this instance, it feels at odds with the story.
Until I Have You forges its own path through the addition of combat. Enemies are carefully placed throughout each level so that timing is essential to keep the momentum going between each attack and each platforming section. If you miss an attack, the enemy will most definitely shoot you in the back. In what feels like an odd design choice, most weapons and abilities can be ignored, bar certain boss encounters. You have the option to use whichever items you like, which adds some personalisation to the experience.
For a platformer, the story is quite complex. The relationship between the artist and his wife is explored in depth and despite his devotion to her, things are not as they appear. Unlockable videos are available for viewing in the safe house that expands the story and world building. The characters you encounter, particular the bosses, are an odd bunch of crazies.
The art design and soundtrack are where the game truly shines. The graphics are simple and pixelated, although do an excellent job of creating a cyberpunk feel that’s also incredibly disturbing. The levels are quite varied and are not exclusively set in the metropolis. In fact, the artist finds himself in some rather odd locations. The music is an excellent mix of synth and upbeat guitar riffs that build the momentum required for each run. The voice acting is tight and better than what I would typically expect from an indie studio.
Until I Have You is best described as a hard-core platformer, so unless you enjoy games with frequent deaths that occasionally happen in a frustrating manner you best steer clear. Although if you’re looking for an intense challenge and enjoy a good cyberpunk romp (really who doesn’t?) Until I Have You certainly won’t disappoint.
Until I Have You is developed by Wormwood Studios. You can check out the game and soundtrack here.
Michael Vane is a freelance journalist and Co-editor at PN2. You can find him on Twitter @DrVane