Until It’s Undone

It’s been a while since I’ve played anything short on this site. A personal problem I have is that I don’t respect my own time, pursuing content(TM) that takes a while to push out. I like to write longer things and it’s harder to do that with shorter experiences, but you know, I think I should love myself and make an effort to love some of the smaller stuff out there. So, without further ado:

Until It’s Undone is a game by ApeHardware, and it’s advertised as an “anti point-and-click.” You are an outsider to a mysterious town – which you don’t get to explore it. You don’t get to run around an open space, collecting items and talking to people until you find the correct path forward. Rather, you’re a visitor compelled by a force to go backwards, ignoring the Direction the townsfolk obeys, forced to go on a set path in reverse.

The game is entirely controlled by text parser, but unlike the early text parser adventure games, your options are limited. The only commands you can input are the ones that the game allows, with the universe not being able to comprehend commands that aren’t relevant to the current situation. Everything is railroaded, but it’s very deliberate given the theming of the game.

Until It’s Undone is somewhat of a horror game, given its macabre diorama look put through a fuzzy filter. And really, its main concept and gameplay presents an existential horror in that you mostly have no control over your fate own fate.

There are a few puzzles in the game revolving around the game’s theme. One is to “deconstruct” an object by listing out its individual parts. Another is to retrace a path, which you only get a basic glimpse of. And there’s another, more skill-based one where you have to spell a whole bunch of words backwards within a time limit. Besides fitting the game’s general concept, these puzzles manage to tie into the main gameplay in that it’s all controlled through typing.

Unusually, Until It’s Undone also has stealth segments that is controlled via text prompt. You have to type in the “listen” command to get a gauge on your general surroundings and make your next command based on the response. While I think these segments go on for longer than they should, I think that they’re neat.

A general problem I had with the game is that at some points, it’s hard to figure out what command prompt you need to enter to continue on. There are the obvious prompts shown in parentheses that have to be reapplied in later situations that you can suss out through context. But then there are the commands used in some of the puzzles that are hard to figure out that I feel are through no fault of the player.

For instance, at one point, you have to deconstruct a bridge. “String” and “tape” are easy to figure out. However, the game does not accept the obvious “wood” answer. The actual answer is “planks” – the game does not accept “wood” or “boards.” In the case of the above screenshot, unless you were paying enough attention to the cutscene beforehand, you’ll have no fucking way to know that is a cake.

What really got me stuck was this fight scene, where you have to type in commands while some guy wails on you. The only hint you get is “you know what to do,” and no, I really don’t. So, there is an alternate path before this particular fight, which probably could have given hints, but you’re locked into doing the fight as soon as you go down its path, which is kinda infuriating.

Until It’s Undone is an interesting take on an adventure style game, though despite having limited options, it still manages to fall into the adventure game problem of being somewhat unclear at times. That said, I still think it’s cool and worth a look.

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