Until Dawn is an interactive horror game that takes place on a snowy mountain lodge where a group of students have gone up for a fun weekend away. Things take a turn when they find out that they are not alone. You better be prepared to get the crap scared out of you several times as this game is pretty damn scary!
Until Dawn takes aspects from Telltale games such as The Walking Dead and brings them to a new level. You get to control the characters movements at times and you also get to control a lot of dialog and the events that unfold due to your decisions. This is one of the few games that has pretty heavy decisions that can be the difference between someone getting killed or not. This isn’t the average scenario though, you wont be presented with 2 people in danger and asked to help only one. It is possible to beat this entire game without a single person getting killed. Your decisions have a big impact on how the story unfolds and this is really cool. It’s not original, but it was done incredibly well in Until Dawn.
The games visuals are up there as being some of the best visuals on the PS4 so far. There are quite a few hiccups now and then with animations, but from a pure visual standpoint, the game looks absolutely amazing. Textures are really sharp and crisp, the lighting effects look amazing as you see specs of dust floating around. The game looks stunning, but unfortunately some animation issues, do get in the way at times. Until Dawn makes use of the same animation technology that was used for games like L.A Noire. This results in some very realistic facial animations. Sometimes the animations go a bit crazy. I am not sure if this is the actors over compensating and exaggerating their actions or if it’s just a flaw with how the technology was implemented. It does get a bit distracting when the characters lips are lifting up showing their front teeth for no real reason. It’s not major, but when the characters look so realistic It gets a bit distracting to see their faces do things that aren’t something you see people normally do when they speak.
The games story is your typical teenage murder horror. A bunch of guys heading away for the weekend to get laid, but things don’t go to plan and shit hits the fan when people start getting killed. The story on its own probably wouldn’t make a fantastic movie, but with the addition of the story options and the level of engagement that you get through the controls, this actually becomes an incredibly entertaining story. The characters are typical, but at the same time they are interesting. You end up finding ones that you like and dislike due to their personality traits. This will alter the way you interact with particular people and can result in arguments between people which is really cool. One thing I didn’t was the amount of cheap jump scares. I wont mark this as a negative toward the game, but I hate cheap scares where things jump out at the camera for no reason (yea I’m probably just a pussy). Overall the story is quite solid. Don’t expect it to tickle your brain with a complex and deep level of story telling. It’s a standard horror that’s very engaging and fun. Things get seriously weird and you get sucked right in with the acting.
After beating the game I decided to go back and replay some of the chapters where I felt that I made the wrong decision or wanted to alter it to see what the alternative outcome was. I was quite disappointed at times to find that the outcome was more or less the same. You go about it a different way, but the end result is the exact same. By the time I finished my first play through 5 people were dead. Most of which died near the end of the game. It is possible to beat the game with no one getting killed (or so I’m told) it doesn’t really feel like you have that much control at times. At times I felt as though both options were equally as bad and would have preferred a more obvious, safer option. The level of option and story branching was still far better than any game I have ever played in the past, but this was a bit of a let down for me.
Until Dawn is a really impressive game. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the typical teen horror genre, I still found this game seriously enjoyable. I would love to see more developers create games like this. The lack of guns, platforming and any other standard game play elements didn’t bother me at all. It was a fresh break away from the norm that was very welcome. The visuals were strong and it was backed up by great animation and acting. The level of polish here was very high. The story is very subjective and some people may absolutely love it. By the end of the game I loved it, but like all teen horrors you will be left wondering “why the hell are they splitting up!” and all the other typical stupid mistakes than teenagers make in these movies. If you are looking for a scare, pick this game up! It will scare the crap out of you.