Until Dawn is a PlayStation 4 horror game from Supermassive Games. Until Dawn is a game about a group of 8 friends who travel to a remote cabin for a weekend out together for fun. However, strange things start happening in that cabin and the group of friends quickly realise they are in danger and some maniac is watching them. What will they do? What could happen? Will they all survive?
Until Dawn Trailer
Until Dawn Review
Until Dawn is a videogame focused on telling a unique story to its audience and its gameplay is similar to that of videogame titles such as Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls or even the recently released video game series Life Is Strange. As a player you will spend a lot of time watching cutscenes and choosing your responses to various questions or situations your playable character is in at a particular time.
The game utilises what is known as “the butterfly effect” which is a way of telling the player that a decision that you make at one point will effect what happens later in the game. Some of the butterfly effect moments can happen out of the smallest decisions such as making comments about a relationship during a conversation which might cause someone to be jealous later on in the game. Another moment may be when a players character is attacked and you will have the option to retaliate with a pair of scissors that you were carrying, or not to to retaliate at all, depending on what you choose to do or not do in such a situation will have an impact on your characters future. In Until Dawn you do not play as a single character for the games whole run time, you will play as all 8 characters and will continuously switch between them at different points of the story.
By the end of the game you’ll have had a variety of decisions that you made and they will have an impact on how your game ends. Playing through the game a second time will allow you to change your ending and the outcomes of various situations, which can lead to either a better ending or a worse one depending on what you have done.
Until Dawn relies heavily on telling a story to the player and in doing so spends quite a long time building its characters. Having 8 characters in the game can make it a bit hard to remember who everyone is in the beginning, but by the end you’ll have a good grasp of everyone and their motivations. With most characters being quite young, almost all of them have relationships on their mind, with most travelling to the cabin as a couple with the aim to further their relationships. It’s just a shame however that everyone’s weekend is ruined by some maniac trying to kill them, it really makes it hard for all of them to pursue their love interests.
Various decisions you will make in the game with a certain character will have an impact on how other characters in the game perceive that character. This is represented by a menu which can be displayed by pressing R1 at any point in the game. If you take a look at it you’ll see the bars going up or down based on how much someone likes you or not. It also has traits in there like charitable, honest, brave, romantic or curious. These all change over time which reflects a change in your character as you progress and their standing with various characters in the game.
For the most part the story is quite solid and characters are well represented. The games production design borrows quite a lot from horror films such as The Shining (1980) and Psycho (1960), both of which influenced the look and feel of Until Dawn’s teen horror story. Until Dawn is filled with many jump scares, many of which are actually quite scary. There are a few moments in the game where the gore level is quite high and some scenes might make some people uncomfortable, but I suppose it’s to be expected out of the horror genre. But it’s certainly not a game for kids at all, teens and adults only. Playing the game in the dark may make things a bit more scary for the player as it will match the mood of the game, which happens entirely at night. Until Dawn does get quite tense at times and while I didn’t go to bed with nightmares after playing it, I have to admit quite a few jump scares made me jump during my first playthrough.
In Until Dawn the player will have the choice of playing with either the motion controls or the standard controls. I found the game to be much more immersive when using the motion controls and they are very well done in Until Dawn. You hold R2 and move the controller up or down to open or pull doors, left or right to move things left or right and also for looking at items, you move the control around. Motion controls were at their best when you had to stay still for a few moments so that you aren’t detected by the maniac hunting you and it’s hard to do that if you are easily scared by something jumping out at you. The only issue I had with the motion controls was that when I was playing in the dark and was looking at items in the game, I would turn the control around and the light from the control would shine directly in my eyes, it’s way too bright!
Until Dawn has quite a few well known voice actors with the most recognisable one being Hayden Panettiere who stars in Heroes (2006) and Nashville (2012) as well as Brett Dalton Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013). All of the actors do well with their roles and they all had some great scenes to showcase their video game acting talents. The standout actors of the game were Hayden Panettiere (Sam), Brett Dalton (Mike), Galadriel Stineman (Ashley) and Meaghan Martin (Jessica).
Until Dawn’s presentation is excellent and it has some very impressive graphics. Characters eyes in particular are quite well made and every character in the game looks very realistic, it’s impressive what Supermassive Games were able to do in terms of the art style. The level design fits well with the horror genre, with many narrow corridors to give players a tense feeling when going through them, or large isolated open spaces which leave you feeling vulnerable. Everything is designed to add to the horror theme this game has. Music is well done and the sound effects all add to the tense feeling the developers were trying to give players, in terms of presentation it’s hard to complain about it.
While the game is quite good with regards to its story and its presentation, it isn’t the longest game out there. Having gone through the first playthrough quite slowly and playing about two to three hours a day and taking time to ensure I had not missed many clues, I reached the end of the game on my third day of playing Until Dawn. Depending on how long you like your games to be, this may be either just right or too short. Looking at the story and how it came to a conclusion and considering it’s a game focusing on a story, I would say it’s a about right as they didn’t seem to try to stretch things out for the player too much.
You can go through the chapters once you are done and look for clues you may have missed along the way, as well as take a look at how the different decisions go if you change what you did, allowing you to witness the full butterfly effect. There is also quite a lot of bonus content and videos which you unlock and can watch when you are done. It’s just a shame that it’s a bit short because I would have loved to have more time with this game. Hopefully if this game is a success Supermassive Games will make more games like this, because they certainly have done well with Until Dawn and it left me wanting more.
Overall Until Dawn is a fairly solid horror game that is sure to make quite a few gamers jump a few times during their playthrough. Characters are well developed which makes them interesting to watch as you progress through the game and the actors all do well to entertain the players. The games presentation is excellent with some impressive graphics and character models. Levels are designed well and the music fits perfectly with the horror theme that Until Dawn is going for. The only downside is that the game may be a bit short for some players. But Until Dawn certainly delivers a great horror story and one that should scare a few players quite a few times, it’s a great game for a few friends to play over Halloween or any horror themed night or, home alone by yourself of course.