Spooky Scary Halloween Video Game Review: Until Dawn
It’s Halloween weekend and you know what that means: Scary Movies, Scary Costumes, and Scary Video Games! If you need something to do this weekend, and for some reason aren’t going to the incredible GDEX Gaming Expo at COSI (Writers Note: I may be an organizer of GDEX, but you should totally come because it’s awesome and I like to eat!), then the PS4 Exclusive, Until Dawn, may be right up your alley.
Until Dawn has had an interesting development cycle. Announced as a Playstation 3 Move (PlayStation’s take on the Wii Generation… it failed miserably.) at Gamescom 2012, Until Dawn was originally meant to be a first-person action game, where players would use the systems motion sensor as a flashlight. However, after the game’s initial announcement, little was heard from developer Super Massive Games. It was reintroduced to the public in August of 2014 as a new exclusive to the PS4, and released to critics Mild Appraise in August 2015. Since then the game has become a cult classic among horror fans, with its branching storyline, likeable characters, and narrative based gameplay. So let’s jump scare into this game and take a dive into this B-Movie Video Game!
The Gamescom 2012 Announcement of Until Dawn.
Until Dawn is a love letter to 80’s Slasher Movies, and it succeeds. 10 teenaged friends meetup at a Mountain Top Ski Resort turned family home to party and get into general antics. After a prank goes wrong, the 2 sisters of the family that owns the resort go missing. A year later, the brother of the two sisters invites everyone back to resort to party and try to forget the tragedy. Shortly after, a psychopath starts attacking the group, and the must survive… UNTIL DAWN!
The game takes after other Narrative Based Gameplay games, such as Beyond Two Souls and Heavy Rain. Most of the gameplay is through decision making, where you will slowly build relationships with the other characters. The game also features what they call “The Butterfly Effect” system, where little choices that you make throughout the game, will change the story in some way, with everything from a character being a little mad at you, to that major characters being killed off due to the actions you made. The rest of the gameplay comprises of walking around set pieces to find clues as to where to go next, and getting through various obstacles via Quick Time Events. While the game uses some great use of the Dualshock 4’s motion sensor in the tense “Don’t Move” segments, the game can quickly become frustrating by a bad motion system and clunky controls.
Although they are a primary cause of the clunky controls, Until Dawn has some of my favorite camera uses in gaming. The game uses set cameras that players walk in and out of, and it allows for shots that can perfectly capture the atmosphere of a horror game. In fact, Until Dawn nails atmosphere. Whether the player knows it or not, Super Massive Games knows exactly where the player is looking, and uses that to add in little hints and clues as to what is going on, creating a very immersive experience that creates plenty of blink and you’ll miss it moments.
Until Dawn keeps the immersion with a stellar cast and some of the best motion capture I have seen in a game in a long time. The characters in the game actively react to their predicaments in a way that looks more realistic than most games I’ve seen this generation. The team worked hard creating a system that can capture the human moments that haven’t been captured in gaming before, and they accomplished it beautifully!
Overall, Until Dawn is an excellent narrative experience that makes for a fun Halloween event with friends, or a spooky game to play on your own. I give Until Dawn a Gratuitous Bath Scene out of 10.
While Until Dawn, may not have the most exciting gameplay, it’s presentation and narrative recreates the campiness and fun that made movies like Halloween and Scream so enjoyable.
For more information, visit www.supermassivegames.com/games/until-dawn.