Another eastasiasoft published title, Until the Last Plane was originally developed by CarloC. The game is set during World War II. And as you may guess, it sees you commanding squads of pilots as you engage in air warfare against enemy troops. A predictable description on paper. However, as you’ll learn in this Until the Last Plane review, the game itself is anything but predictable.
Until the Last Plane is not the game you’re likely expecting. From the screenshots embedded in this Until the Last Plane review you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a retro styled shoot-’em-up. While the first part of that assessment is correct – it does indeed have a retro aesthetic – Until the Last Plane is not a shooting game. Instead, it’s a management sim of sorts.
Across the three campaigns, the majority of your time will be spent in your allocated base. Here, you can issue reconnaissance missions, spend skill points on upgrades and repair damaged planes. There’s much more going on here; far too much to list out. After your scouting, you can embark on one of the missions you have discovered. Some missions will be automatically assigned, but for the most part you can choose. Then, your planes will take off one-by-one and attempt to complete whatever is required of them.
The combat is a essentially a simple game of rock-paper-scissors. You never pull a trigger yourself, but instead use manoeuvres to either line-up a target or evade their sights. If preferred, you can automate this process and concentrate solely on the management.
This aspect is bar far the most addictive. You have to ensure resources are allocated wisely between repairing and refuelling planes, as well as recruiting new pilots to give you more fighters in the sky. Each of the campaigns has three difficulty options, and it won’t be until the harder settings that you find yourself woefully under equipped. Careful management fuel is always essential, of course. But when it comes to bullets or bombs you have to try and predict what missions could be coming next.
Each of the three factions playable – USA, USSR and Germany – have different advantages and disadvantages. A strategy that worked well in one campaign may quickly fail you in another. This gives the game significant longevity. You’re going to be coming back time-and-again to try out new things. To see if you can push that kill tally higher, or earn more in-game currency to build a bigger fleet.
That in itself is both the challenge and the reward of Until the Last Plane. It’s a game that sets out thin lines for you to follow and allows you to layer your own personal challenges on top. It’s also worth mentioning that, alongside the many hours you can joyfully play Until the Last Plane for, the game is offered at a very wallet friendly price. In the 16-bit era that the game apes, you’d have been asked for four times the price. And if you’re looking for a revival of the type of strategy seen in the likes of Metal Marines or even Powermonger, you could do far worse than Until the Last Plane.