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This new indie video game will make you nostalgic with its Philippine-inspired landscapes

By John Patrick Magno Ranara Published Feb 07, 2024 6:19 pm

As beautiful and charming as the Philippines is, it's rare for the country to be featured in video games, let alone become its main setting, but this indie video game is here to take you down memory lane with its stunning Philippine-based landscapes.

Until Then is a contemporary adventure game that is developed by Polychroma Games, a team of ten developers based in the Philippines, in a span of four years.

According to its reveal teaser, the game's premise is inspired by Filipino lifestyle and culture and features a smartphone game mechanic where you can chat with other characters and send replies that may pose consequences.

Here are the exciting details about the game:

Nostalgic setting

Right from the bat, Until Then fills you with a sense of nostalgia from its various backdrops that are inspired by the bustling city of Metro Manila, such as the all-too-familiar LRT-2 Katipunan station.

The developers have also sprinkled tiny details that make the setting truly have a one-of-a-kind authentic Filipino feel with the interior spaces having been shaped by the mannerisms of the locals as well as minigames that showcase the local culture, like competing for fish balls with your friends or getting in the groove to pay for a jeepney.

In an interview with PhilSTAR L!feUntil Then director Mickole Klein Nulud said that as someone who grew up in the Philippines, he and his team created the game as a "love letter to youth in the country."

"I like to think that putting our experiences into a video game as high-school students is sort of like sealing them in a time capsule, to be discovered and rediscovered over time. Also, it's to make our mark and bring Filipino representation to video games," he said.

Tear-jerking story

Until Then promises to give you all the feels with its story that centers on Mark Borja, an average irresponsible high school student who tries to find meaning in his unexciting life. However, things change as he sets off a chain reaction where "people disappear and memories prove unreliable."

Through Mark, you must unravel the mystery by interacting with a diverse and "achingly familiar" cast of characters. You can get to know and build relationships with them, but be warned as how you interact with them will eventually affect how their personal stories will unfold alongside yours.

Until Then is touted to tackle themes of "love, loss, and friendship" and will shoot you some philosophical issues to try to resolve as you decide how Mark strives to do better in the story.

"I'm a sucker for emotional and transformative experiences in any medium, from films to anime to video games," Nulud said on why they opted for a story-centered gameplay.

"The type of the story our game tells doesn't really require conventional fast-paced mechanics, so it stays true to itself, as a slice-of-life experience with a story that we think is worth telling," he continued.

Charming visuals

In an industry where video games seem to compete on having realistic graphics and exciting gameplay, Until Then forged its own path and decided to stick with some gorgeous pixelated visuals that display and charmingly classic vibe to it.

It was all because of Nulud's strong fascination with pixel art and how he was inspired by other games that take this style to the next level by putting 2D sprites in 3D space, plus modern graphics.

"The Last Night was a major visual inspiration in this regard. I thought it created a very interesting look and we wanted to see how the places we're familiar with would look in such a style," he said.

You can expect to see an intriguing narrative that is presented in hand-drawn pixel art with characters, landscapes, and props perfectly blending in 3D.

From waking up early in the morning and riding the train for school to buying from a 7-Eleven-inspired store, the developers have made sure to set the shadows, reflections, and lighting well to give you a range of emotions while immersing yourself in the story.

All things considered, Nulud assured that the game will be an "emotional rollercoaster" for players, where you'll navigate a life that's seemingly more difficult as you grow up, struggle, and face the real world.

"We hope that the story resonates and strikes a chord in players' hearts, and as for our fellow Filipinos, we hope that you find all the little minute details unique to us relatable," he said.

Until Then is set to be released sometime in 2024, but there is now a free playable demo available on Steam from Feb. 5 to Feb. 12. The game will be available on PC and PS5.

Watch the official trailer below: