From first glance, you would likely not be wrong from where Until I Have You draws its inspiration. This game pays homage to the games such as Hotline Miami and Lost in Harmony, attempting to amalgamate the best of both into this experience.
This has been done rather effectively. Until I Have You has a wonderful story to it with incredible visuals and superb music to bring it to life. However little niggles in the gameplay cause this game to falter slightly in its vision and rendering it a beautiful yet horribly frustrating action-platformer.
The story of Until I Have You is set in a nondescript cyberpunk future. You play as ‘The Artist;’ an assassin all but ready to retire until the kidnap of your girlfriend forces you to hunt down her captors and get her back. For this, The Artist dons an exoskeleton suit with his traditional suit, giving him far more power and agility though draining slowly at his sanity across its use.
This is the strong point of the game. The delivery of the story is through cut scenes with The Artist in his car making personal logs and supported with a video camera in his house and the saved news articles to help with the world building. You learn of the relationship between The Artist and his girlfriend as well as the lives of the varied bosses of the game.
The graphics and music of the game are utterly phenomenal and help in how the story is delivered so effectively. They both nail each area, making each level unique yet keeping the cyberpunk theme as you run across rooftops, through corporate building and through subway tunnels. There is never really a point where the art style seems poorly done. The music as well is great midi-synth medley going between symphonic rock and full electronica to match the level.
Issues arise when, sadly, you play the levels of the game. The main gameplay is platforming across the level taking out any enemies along the way. Each stage is, at maximum, a few minutes long with you moving along at quite a pace, with the catch that the challenge increases over tome forcing you to master your skills.
However this difficulty, in a lot of cases, is fake. You first notice this a few levels in where an enemy instantly kills you and the game penalises you several times for not being clairvoyant. This can be seen in the level design as well, where sloppy design relies too much on leaps of faith, inescapable gunfire and miniscule platforms you have to bounce between. It doesn’t help that you die instantly and are forced back to the level starts for even the smallest goof.
This design oversight translates into the weapons and abilities available to you. Over time The Artist gains more weapons and more suit abilities, with the caveat that the suit powers slowly drain his sanity away. This would be a problem if you couldn’t breeze the game without them besides from the boss fights. The game encourages you to play in various different way yet by accommodating this they make it possible to ignore several tools in the game. For the most part the dash ability and a gun will suffice for most of the game. There are points where the game feels like a fun, mad action platformer with a sensible challenge and some amazing bosses and they just disappear when you reach jumping sections with tiny platforms, levels which can simply be sprinted through, or bullet sponge bosses.
Until I have you hits nearly all the good spots on presentation. The story is wonderful, supported by utterly gorgeous graphics and high-octane music. However the game is also full of cheap deaths and difficulty bumps to frustrate the casual player. I would recommend picking this up on the Steam Sale if you like a challenge. For now the game gets a 6. Story sadly does not cover poor design.