Most games follow a similar recipe providing us with an ever-familiar experience. However, Until Dawn is one of those few games which delves down a totally new road. The great question is – would it work? Let’s take a look and find out if the risk was worth taking by Sony.
Like any good movie it’s important to understand the basic storyline. So let’s take a quick look at how it all begins...
A bunch of college students are returning to a log cabin one year after they’d previously visited. Two of the friends died in the previous visit in what was believed to be a tragic accident. However, the strange decision to return to the remote mountain getaway, at Blackwood Pines, on Mount Washington, is one they’re set to regret. The story then starts to unfold from here. I could go on more, but that would spoil your experience.
You’re in the middle of nowhere up in the mountains, the wind is howling and the snow is falling heavily. It’s pitch dark and extremely lonely. However, it’s not long before you realise that you aren’t alone, and that there’s something or someone lurking around the forest. As you switch between characters you’ll be presented with decision making, cut scenes and gameplay. The selections you make will ultimately decide the fate of how many of the characters live or die. You’ll also come across elements that remind you of the movie Saw. The various outcomes mean the replay ability of this game is huge, it took me around 10 hours to complete the game first time around.
The environment is littered with collectibles, so remember to look around for clues – they’ll shine, making them easier to notice. You’ll also stumble up on totems, which give you a short clip of a possible future event. These can be very helpful when it comes to certain decisions, so remember what was shown – it’s a clue.
Another impressive aspect to gameplay is the DualShock 4 controller integration. The trigger and thumb stick combos create the effect that you’re handling the items you’ve picked up in a realistic manner. You’ll be required to accurately, and speedily, copy button sequences – these are known as Quick Time Events. But it’s perhaps the pinging countdown timer which adds another layer of intensity to the situation. The motion sensor is also used in horrifying moments, this is where you must stay exactly still. The subtle controller vibrations make it even harder, and the on-screen happenings are also tempting you on to shake or move. However, if you move, it could potentially lead to the death of a character. However, Sony has done a marvelous job, showing how the DualShock 4 control pad can greatly enhance gameplay – game devs take note.
Both the visuals and sound effects work in tandem with each other, and they give you that awesome movie feel. As you progress through each chapter, a previously on Until Dawn presentation will appear, showing a re-cap of what your characters went through. A nice touch, indeed.
This game takes you on an emotional journey, where cut scenes, decision making and gameplay all mix together to form a very magical experience. The setting is breath-taking within its own right and perfect for a game that wants to terrify you – and terrify you it does. I just hope we see more games like this in the near future – all credit goes to Supermassive Games and Sony for bringing us this masterpiece. With Halloween not far away, it feels like the perfect time to get stuck in to Until Dawn. Pick this one up, it’s a must have. Just be prepared for the emotional roller-coaster that will scare the hell out of you.