My blog post will contain some minor spoilers. Fair warning.
Until Dawn, created by Supermassive Games, is a survival thriller game that covers many forms of horror including serial killer, psychological, environmental, and paranormal. A year ago, I was granted an opportunity to play the demo at the Playstation Experience hosted in Las Vegas. I wrote my thoughts on the demo here. For those who read my post on the demo, I will tell you that the damn towel is still magically wrapped around Hayden Panettiere’s while she runs around and throws things at a masked pursuer.
I am happy to say that I was blessed this Christmas season, and my family chipped in to gift me a PS4,so naturally, one of the games I picked up was Until Dawn. I had seen snippets of gameplay and read positive reviews on the game and those encouraged me to purchase it. I finished two playthroughs of the game and I give it 8/10.
The bit that was available in the demo was included in the game itself, and my feelings still remain, but the rest of the game was fantastic. I love the horror genre, and I love a game that has replay value. An entire playthrough could run approximately 9-10 hours. There are 10 chapters, so be prepared to dedicate one hour or more to each of them.
I will get my main issue out of the way right now. The saving system can really mess with you. This was my scenario. I completed one playthrough. A couple people died. I want to get the trophy you would receive if everyone survived. I do not choose “New Story”, I simply replay the original save from the very beginning. I mess up in chapter 4, and I figured since I completed everything once already, I could replay the chapter and the choices I made in chapter 1-3 will save. NOPE. I replay chapter 4 and I notice that the game plays out the same way it did in my original playthrough. Your choices will only be saved if you complete the entire game all the way through. Since my first major mistake occurred in chapter 4, I start back there and continue on, so I now have a hybrid of original playthrough choices and new choices of my “second playthrough”. I get to chapter 9 and mess up again, effectively destroying my chances of obtaining the all survivors trophy. My only non-hair pulling option is to complete the playthrough and then go back to chapter 9 and not mess up again. That is my one huge grip about the game.
The replay value of the game lies in the choice system. Lots of different decisions will open or take away dialogue paths and certain areas of the game. On the first playthrough, the jumpscares got me. Some were quite predictable, but there are some pretty well placed ones throughout the game. One setback is that these scares are only effective the first time through unless you play the game a year from now and forget when they happen.
A lot of the game’s value lies with the environment. The visuals, the sounds (or lack of), the finely crafted levels that prey on one’s fear of seclusion and helplessness was incredibly rich. Playing the game twice with only one night’s rest in between was really affecting my psyche because I was in a state of constant anxiety, so I had to immediately stop after my second playthrough. It’s a great rush.
I also must give props to the voice actors. They were so spot on with their delivery and easily made me genuinely love and hate their characters. Freaking Emily, man Freaking, Emily. I only kept her alive because I want that all survivor trophy. Seriously, the voice acting is top notch in this game. So props to Nichole Bloom for bringing to life a character I hate more than the SkiFree abominable monster snow yeti (or whatever the hell it is). You know… this creepy guy.
Throughout the game, you take control of one of seven characters. You do not get to choose who you control as I originally assumed when I played the demo. Each character has their own personality traits; however, I did notice that it was difficult for me play as seven different people and keep in tune with their personalities without incorporating my own feelings into the decisions. Halfway through chapter 2, I had forgotten who was the intuitive one, the adventurous one, etc… and I just answered as I would naturally. You craft your responses differently once you complete one playthrough, but the value of having different personalities slowly became lost on me the longer I played. It is blatantly obvious who the nice and not so nice characters are so I just stayed with my gut instincts on reacting and then chose different options during the second run.
Overall, Until Dawn takes the best of your fears and ties everything up in a very enjoyable bundle of horror. You have no weapons and must rely on quick wit and decision making in order to survive. The game is full of intense moments, and a lot of that anxiety is inspired by the anticipation that something is about to happen as opposed to something actually happening. I would recommend this to people who enjoy the genre and who wouldn’t mind a good scare here and there.
What did you guys think of the game?