”What’s your favorite scary movie?”
Until Dawn from Supermassive Games is a straight up homage to all the cheesy horror movies out there. We are talking Saw, Scream, Friday 13th and Halloween to name but a few. The setup is a classic horror shtick. Eight teenagers return to a remote getaway to pay respects to the two friends that were brutally killed the year before. Just as they settle in things start to go very badly for everyone involved. Every choice the player makes while playing as each of the eight friends – even the seemingly trivial ones – will carve out a unique story. The player’s actions alone determine who survives…Until Dawn.
The main element of Until Dawn’s gameplay is the choices the individual characters make. This is more of an interactive horror rather than a straight up survival horror title. There are many different choices to make during the game. These range from conversational choices with other characters, what objects to give or keep and of course making sure you don’t get caught by the killer. Outside of making choices, there isn’t that much traditional gameplay to be had. You can wander around the locations looking for clues but when you are controlling the characters it basically boils down to moving them to the next cutscene or QTE. This is not a bad thing. If you liked Heavy Rain or Beyond: Two Souls then you will know exactly what type of experience you will have.
The game helps you a little for the choices that you need to make. The various clues that you find piece together the backstory for you and the mysterious totems give a brief look into a potential future. If you have a good eye, you can watch the visions and work out what or not to do later on. Choices big and small all affect the direction that the story goes. Even failing a QTE can change the story significantly. While Until Dawn makes a big deal of just about every choice you make, only a small selection actually have a major impact on who ends up living or dying. It is possible to complete the game with everybody alive or just a few. If things really go bad then you can also kill everyone off if you are not careful.
Until Dawn looks and sounds fantastic. It is easily one of the best looking titles out there at the moment. The game runs on a modified Killzone: Shadow Fall engine so things look really nice. Most of the game is bathed in blues, blacks and of course white. It is not visually boring though just very atmospheric. When you do enter a location that offers up some actual colour, the end result is pretty breathtaking. Music and sound design is also a key to horror games and Until Dawn has a great moody score. The voice acting is spot on for each character too. Horror games are usually known for their terrible voice acting. Not here though.
Until Dawn is quite different from your usual PS4 games and that’s great. There aren’t a lot of games quite like it. Yes, the gameplay could have been more immersive and it doesn’t fully explore the concepts of the butterfly effect. However, if you have a love for horror games, Until Dawn is a good choice. It has twists and turns, jump scares, good characters and an interesting story. Let’s hope Supermassive Games build on what they have done here and deliver a bigger and better sequel.