Until Dawn is a PS4 exclusive, triple A indie horror game developed by Supermassive Games released on August 25th of 2015. It is a single-player horror which tells the story of eight friends, ages 18-20, on an annual mountain retreat, in Alberta, in 2015, alone. (Or are they?…)
Poster courtesy of Drive637 on Deviant Art
Before we begin, I would like to say that there will be no spoilers in this article, I owe it to all of you. I can not emphasize the importance of no spoilers for this game, so if you want to have this extraordinary experience, make sure no one spoils it. If someone tries to spoil Until Dawn for you, a good punch to the stomach should do the trick. Also, if you spoil it for yourself, your worst nightmare will plague you for a week. (If you spoil it for someone else, make it 12 days.)
The game is centered around the concept of the “Butterfly Effect”, which, if you don’t know, basically means that any action, big or small, can have unpredictable consequences. In order to accomplish this, Until Dawn takes a step in a new direction of gaming, moving away from game-play, and towards immersing the player into the story. You can’t sit and laugh at the dumb decisions that you see people make in horror movies because YOU will be the one calling the shots.
In terms of actual game-play, this game is very lacking. Most of it is just walking around, looking for clues, grabbing stuff with R2 and turning them around with the joystick. A common criticism of the game is that you will be sitting through cut scenes for most the “game”, but what can you expect from a game that’s genre is literally “interactive movie”. The game’s key to success lies in the story, meaning this genre would probably have worked better than one that would force the player to concentrate on playing and skill-based actions.
Supermassive Games does a very good job of creating realistic, relatable characters. You don’t see Until Dawn as a fictional game, it’s so well developed that you are genuinely concerned for the Canadians up on that mountain. I’ll leave it to you to meet them.
Until Dawn’s graphics are beautiful, with very close attention to making sure the environment looks realistic and gives off the mood it’s intended to. The mountainside looks cold and unforgiving, and the sanatorium is creepy as fecal matter. Also, the animation is impeccable. The game takes advantage of modern-day technology to ensure that what you will be seeing looks as real as possible, with extra attention to the facial region (seriously, the close-up shots are amazing).
Obviously, if you’re looking for a more traditional game-play focused game, then Until Dawn fails miserably, but then so would every other game it its genre. But I do have a legitimate, if somewhat minor, critique about the game, and that is the diversity of the story. You would think that revolves around the butterfly effect would have drastically different stories that could come out of multiple playthroughs, but a lot of the set pieces stay the same. I think that if this genre were to become more successful, then this would cease to be a problem. But right now, with only a few notable games in the genre, I think Until Dawn is the best one yet.
This game has already done very well, considering this game is still testing the waters of a smaller genre, and I think has been very successful. A lot of you are probably thinking that gameplay is a big problem of this “game”, and it could be, but I don’t think so. It compensates very well for the lack of gameplay and probably wouldn’t be as good as it is if it featured gameplay.
All in all, Until Dawn is a very good game, I highly recommend you either buy the game (if you have a PS4) or at least watch a gameplay series. It has some great moments and will forever change your perspective on what a good game and story is. Quicktime events gets some adrenaline pumping, only to force you to keep the controller motionless and pray that it’s good enough (making it the perfect game for sleepovers). The high-budget ensures you are, at every moment, captivated visually, audibly, and most importantly, by the story.