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Until Then is an amazing narrative adventure set in a charming pixelated world inspired by the Philippines. Playing as the protagonist Mark, you navigate through the everyday insecurities of high school until he begins to realize something more mysterious is happening. Between managing homework deadlines, navigating relationships, practicing the piano, and investigating strange occurrences around him, the developers also sprinkle charming minigames throughout the story that create depth and excitement from ordinary moments.

For example, a trip to the fish ball stand to satisfy hunger turns into a fierce competition to see who can fill their fish ball the fastest. Going even more meta, play video games within the game with Cathy & Mark to determine who the fastest racer is. And, of course, what’s a carnival outing with friends without all the classic games like whack-a-mole?

Beyond just entertaining, the minigames in Until Then also have a unique resonance and the development team has their own opinions on which minigame stands out among the rest.

A minigame to create an interactive world building

Mickole Klein Nulud, Game Director at Polychroma Games, has a nostalgic connection to the ticket vending machine from chapter 1 of the game. “I always used it back in college, so it’s nostalgic,” Nulud said. “I replicated its user interface from the real world into the game in detail, which was a very enjoyable process for me.”

Moments in the game like the ticket vending machine are included to break the heavy dialogue-driven gameplay and to create interactive world-building moments. “It dictates what experience the player will have, where minigames can be mundane but real in life,” Nulud added.

A minigame to showcase character development

Senior Environment Artist Pia Demanawa’s favorite minigame, the haunted house at the fair, brings back memories of Filipino culture. ‘Perya’ is a Tagalog word meaning ‘fair’, like a carnival. This week-long event happens all year round and is a unique part of Filipino celebrations. From game booths, rides, to food stalls, the fair is a fun and entertaining place for people of all ages.

Until Then brings this to life in chapter 10. Mark meets a new student at the carnival and, after some banter, bets that he can scare more people in the haunted house than her. You then have two minutes to chase NPCs around the spooky maze, earning points for each person successfully scared.

“On the surface, [the haunted house] uses elements of Filipino mythology like Kiwig [a shapeshifter that preys on humans] and Minokawa [a giant, dragon-like bird that can swallow the moon and sun],” Demanawa shared. “The art designer of the minigame itself, Vanessa Sumo, truly encapsulated what a low-budget Filipino-themed haunted house looks like from the inside with stereotypical bahay kubo and random chickens. The art director, Dominique Duran, also drew inspiration from the 2012 RPGMaker horror game titled Ib, which I think is a great homage to classic cult story games.”

Without giving too much away, this competitive and haunted minigame creates special moments for the main character Mark, in Until Then, telling more stories not through regular dialogue interactions but through character interactions within the minigame.

“Therefore, I feel this chapter is incomplete without it,” Demanawa added. “It needs to see the character development and charisma exuded from these two specific characters. It makes you root for them, and, in my opinion, it makes you support them too.”

Minigame to mark story events

Some minigames can be so subtle that they are easy to overlook. Joshua James San Juan, Programmer, enjoys interacting with the school bulletin board. “It’s fun and satisfying,” he shared, “like the ‘pop’ sound it makes when you pull out a pin and see posters falling everywhere.”

For players who pay close attention to the details on the board, you might even find some hints foreshadowing what’s to come later in the game. “I think this is a clever way to show or hint at what events are happening and what will happen in the future without stating it directly,” San Juan said. “It also provides a bit of background knowledge about the story setting that will help them understand the world better.”

Minigame for a break

No surprises here. Kyle Patrick Naval, the composer of this game, loves the jeepney rhythm minigame. “I enjoy playing rhythm games, and creating music for a specific minigame is a very enjoyable process,” he shared.

Some minigames may not have a narrative purpose but can add gameplay variety and give players a break from intense moments. “I think it gives the characters a little break from what they’re going through, enjoying the small things, like they say,” Naval said. “It gives players new minigames to explore and play, and look forward to what else they might find in the game.”

No moment is ever dull in Until Then. From friendly competitions and engaging minigame mechanics to stunning visuals and heartwarming story moments, expect emotions and interactions to ebb and flow. Until Then launches this Summer on PS5.

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