Sony isn’t shy of pushing out games with a more cinematic flare, while some become blockbuster hits like Quantic Dream’s Heavy Rain, and others not so much like Ready At Dawn’s The Order. Sony’s latest outing in this style is SuperMassive Game’s Until Dawn, a unique survival horror title in the spirit of Heavy Rain, where your choices carry the game and there is no reset button if you screw up.
Without getting into too much of the game’s overall story, the starts by focusing on 10 friends who are on a mountain lodge getaway. After a horrible practical joke is played on Hannah, she runs out into the night with her twin sister Beth following her. The two girls go missing after the incident and the mountain is locked down. A year later, the sister’s brother Josh, invites his friends back to the Mountain on the anniversary of their disappearance in hopes for closure. Things start going wrong as the group of friends start to get picked off one by one, with help only being able to come at Dawn.
Until Dawn is full of Horror Movie Tropes which helps the game poke fun at itself, but define the characters in a much deeper light. Your basic crew is here, the smart one, the nerdy one, the jokester, the innocent one, the jock, the sexy one, the bitch, and the guy that wants people to be happy. What sets them apart though is how well crafted they are by both the game’s writers and the actors portraying the characters, which allows you to actually care if a specific character lives or dies.
This is widely in thanks to the game’s amazing cast members, who lend their voices, motion capture and likeness to the game. With names like Hayden Panettiere (Heroes), Brett Dalton (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Rami Malek (Mr.Robot), Peter Stormare (The Big Lebowski) leading the cast of characters. The characters are stunning to look at, especially for the use of facial expressions and motion capture which leaves us with memories of the better parts of L.A. Noire, and makes it one of the best looking games on PS4.
As I keep mentioning, Choices are a big part of the game and the game will give you plenty of them. From interactions that will change how characters react to each other, to decisions on how a character should react to a given situation. These become more intense during chase sequences and action scenes where they’re paired with fast paced quick-time events.
During my initial playthrough, I felt that the pacing of the story was off, however on a second attempt to playthrough the 7-8 hour game, knowing the twists and turns that the story takes made everything make sense. The multiple endings, and the ease of replaying the game in an attempt to play around with The Butterfly Effect, gives you plenty of reason to jump back into the title.
My biggest complaint about the game is it’s quick time events timing. As several of the commands require an instant reaction and almost gives you no time to react on the QTE. A knowledge of the button placement is needed before starting the game making it not exactly assessable to everyone.
Until Dawn is a Teen Horror Movie that gives you enough time to focus on the characters and their motivations, and delivers one of the best horror experience so far this year. There is plenty to keep you engage, and makes you want to come back in an attempt to see how other options play out. If your a Horror fan, this is definitely a title to check out.