Until Then Review (PS5) | Push Square

Until Then Review - Screenshot 1 of 7

There’s a bit in Until Then when our teenage protagonist Mark is looking at his mobile phone. He’s just sent a text message to a girl he likes, and we just sit there, waiting. Nothing happens. It’s been a while. Has the game crashed? Then we realise we’re waiting because he’s looking at the delivery note on the text message, hoping it’ll change from “Sent” to “Seen”. It doesn’t.

Until Then’s great success isn’t the mystery at its heart, the supernatural undercurrent bubbling away, or its vast array of minigames. It’s the authenticity with how teenage relationships are portrayed here that sells it. From potential love interests to longtime friends, Mark’s relationships feel real, even during the most tedious of moments, or when the translation throws up a slightly awkward line or two.

There’s a bigger story here involving a recent catastrophe, and how the world is dealing with the not-quite-end-of-the-world. There’s a possibly supernatural element involving memory issues and people disappearing. But much of the game is spent just existing as a Filipino teenager. Going to classes, chatting with friends, going home, scrolling social media. Like someone’s post and maybe they’ll mention it when you see them. That kinda thing.

We control Mark in a variety of ways, mostly moving him left to right or vice versa in 2D, but also in a variety of minigames, like when he practices piano or paints. We make dialogue choices for him in conversations, too. You should be able to reach the end credits in around ten hours or so, but we’d recommend putting a bit more time in and going for another playthrough. Unusually for the genre, Until Then benefits from a second run.

In the end, Until Then is a bit like a pixelated Life Is Strange. And like the best Life Is Strange games, it strikes a near-perfect balance between the mundanity of every day life and the joyous and devastating moments that occasionally perforate that normality.

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