Until We Die is a side-scrolling survival strategy game. It’s best compared to Kingdom: New Lands or Two Crowns.
You are a commander named Ivan and have to survive in the undergrounds. Mutants live down there. Usually, they sleep in the daytime, so you’re pretty safe exploring the underground then. At Night, you should withdraw and hide behind the walls of your base because they will come and attack you.
As a commander, you will have plenty of people who serve you. Well, three in the beginning but over time there will be more. You have to manually tell every one of them what to do. Searching for supplies and food, building something, or attacking eggs, mutants, and what else there may be.
The map is full of resources and some will grow over time (mushrooms) but you will need more. That’s why someone from the main station comes every day to help you out. He will bring some supplies and one worker every day. In exchange, you have to give him food.
This is the heart of your base. If mutants reach the generator, the run is over. You can also upgrade the generator from time to time which gives you bonuses. You can choose one of two random bonuses. Some will give you workers for free, others make diggers faster while searching for supplies, and a lot more.
There are many different buildings. Tents increase your population cap for example. There is also one building for every different class there is. There you can train normal workers to become a sniper, digger, etc. Other buildings may give you bonuses such as more supplies per day or a higher fire rate. Some buildings can be upgraded.
There are five classes in the game. The first is just a worker. He can build, search and fight. Diggers search faster for supplies, while the engineer is specialized in building faster. Some buildings can only be built by an engineer. Furthermore, he can research to give you bonuses or unlock something new.
The sniper is a combat unit and perfect for killing mutants at a distance and stalkers have a machine gun. They can also go on an expedition to collect fuel, etc.
Your base needs to grow to survive and for that, you need to explore the undergrounds. You will not just find resources that way, but also walkers, nests, new mutants, new rooms to explore, and more. I can’t get into detail because it would spoil too much and I don’t want that since exploring is a lot of fun, especially if you don’t know what happens exactly and need to deal with it somehow.
Depending on the difficulty, you can unlock new things. For example, on normal difficulty, you can unlock two new rooms after you survived 18 days. If you want to unlock more, you need to play on a higher difficulty. New rooms can then be built in future runs.
Difficulty and balance
Speaking of which, there are three difficulty settings. The easiest option is normal and already pretty hard if you ask me. It reminds me of a rogue-like in regards to that. Until We Die is a survival strategy game, so it’s fine to be hard but it’s too hard in the easiest setting IMO. Tied to that is the balance. Some things are a bit over the top and some bonuses are very weak compared to others.
Rooms you unlock also feel too weak. The difference in having them is minimal. They could be stronger since you only get two on normal difficulty and this isn’t very engaging since if you can’t even win on normal, you won’t be able to unlock more stuff in higher difficulties.
Note that I played the pre-release version of Until We Die. Balance is a tricky subject and there were already a few patches that addressed some things and made it somewhat easier in total. Even after release, the developers will probably change quite a few things balance-wise.
Until We Die requires your time management to be on point while thinking strategically every second the game lasts. While losing is very devastating since a run is pretty long and you almost get nothing for it and the initiative to play again isn’t as big as in rogue-likes since unlocks are very rare and not engaging enough, you still will want to come back to change how you played and make it better.
Exploring new things and managing your crew is just addictive for every strategy fan out there. It’s a very demanding game in that regard and if you’re into it, this will be perfect for you.