Step into the world of high school melodrama and magical realism with Polychroma Games' upcoming narrative adventure, Until Then. This beautifully cinematic pixelated game takes you on a journey through the hazy springtime environment of the Philippines, where you'll experience homework procrastination, sleepy romantic texting, and unexpected minigames. Prepare to be captivated by the subtle storytelling and the touch of magic that unfolds as you delve deeper into the game.
From the moment you lay eyes on Until Then, you'll be drawn to its attractive and emotive art style. The game seamlessly blends animated 2D pixel art with dynamic camera angles and stunning 3D backgrounds and architecture. It's like stepping into a sunnier version of The Last Night, a cyberpunk game that met its untimely end amidst controversy and delays. Get ready for scrolling backgrounds that come to life, pixel scaling for dramatic camera angles, and meticulous attention to lighting and sound.
One of the standout features of Until Then is its incorporation of text messaging. Polychroma Games takes a page from their previous work and introduces a dedicated smartphone storytelling engine into the game. As you control the main character, Mark, you'll find yourself navigating through group texts, private messages, and social media platforms, all with a level of interactivity that feels natural. Whether Mark is waiting for his train or dealing with an unrequited crush, the smartphone interactions are seamlessly integrated into the gameplay. You'll find yourself waiting for replies, leaving likes on posts, and hopping between DM group threads. It's a unique experience that adds depth to the storytelling and immerses you in Mark's world.
While the smartphone interactions steal the show, the rest of the interactivity in Until Then is relatively straightforward. You'll click through dialogue and occasionally make binary choices. It would be great to have an option to speed up the text, as there are moments with filler replies and ellipses. However, the pacing is broken up with fun minigames, like a friendly competition of spiking fish balls out of a pan for an afternoon snack. These moments add a delightful touch to the overall experience.
The characters in Until Then are still developing, but there are glimpses of their potential. Mark Borja, the somewhat sleepy protagonist, has a slowly developing crush on the overachieving teacher's pet, Louise. However, it's Mark's longtime friend and Louise's manic pixie best friend who steal the spotlight with their colorful personalities. LGBTQ+ representation is hinted at, and there may even be a character with magical powers or some fantastical element in the story. The demo only scratches the surface of the wider story concepts, leaving much to be discovered in the full game.
The lead developer drew inspiration from the beloved anthropomorphic slice-of-life adventure game, Night in the Woods. It's evident in Until Then's gameplay, where characters are presented in all their awkward beauty, navigating their day-to-day lives while something mysterious lurks beneath the surface. The game captures the essence of relatable characters and blends it with a touch of the supernatural.
What sets Until Then apart is not just its visual style and smartphone gameplay, but also its setting in the Philippines. It's a refreshing rarity in the gaming world, offering a unique cultural backdrop that adds depth and richness to the narrative. As you explore the game further, you'll discover how these elements develop and intertwine, making Until Then a must-play for adventure and interactive fiction enthusiasts.
Get ready to immerse yourself in the world of Until Then during the Steam Next Fest, where a timed demo will be available from February 5 to February 12. Don't miss the opportunity to experience this pixelated adventure filled with high school drama, magical realism, and the beauty of the Philippines. Until Then, let the journey begin!