Thursday, 1 October 2015

Until Dawn

When it comes to video games, the words "interactive" and "movie" will bring nothing but sighs and groans. That will all change with Until Dawn. What once was a troubled Move game for the PlayStation 3 has somehow become the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the year, although pleasant may not be the word to describe the game. 

 Until Dawn, which is developed by Supermassive Games is out now on PlayStation 4, has a premise pulled straight from horror movie clich├ęs. There are a bunch of horny teenagers in a cabin in the woods and as you can probably guess, there's one more person than they planned to be there with them. Even if the premise treads familiar ground in a different medium, having the choice makes all the difference. 

Until Dawn boasts "The Butterfly Effect" which states that even the smallest decisions you make can impact the big moments down the line. This, along with great storytelling keeps you invested for literally every second. This doesn’t feel like a tacked-on “you have the choice” but later on realise you never had any influence in the outcome. Literally, everyone you control can die. Gameplay may be the game’s only downside but not much can be done about it. It works perfect for the story the game is trying to convey, but those of you who like more control of the action may feel a little bored throughout, but honestly, you shouldn’t. You will move your character around, interact with the world and utilise quick-time events for a lot of the game. It’s simple and straight-forward but it’s all you need to keep things moving.

Despite being a video game, Until Dawn is one of the best horror movies in years. Choices that you always wanted the idiot guy to make or the good girl with the dirty tank-top (why is it always a tank-top) may not yield the desired result meaning every choice, even the most mundane may have repercussions that you never see coming. Not only does this bring the possibility of multiple playthroughs to the game,  but also keeps things tense.

There are moments where jump-scares will get you but it’s the tension of the moment you're in that will get your heart racing. When the killer is coming for one of the characters, you will genuinely have split-second decisions that don’t have a possible logical outcome, but rather you just trying to keep that character alive. Then again, you could not like the character and want to see their demise.
The eight characters you control feel like they tick off the expected copy and paste horror protagonists, but unlike movies the running time here allows them to have much more depth and personality traits don’t feel so suddenly thrown into the mix. The character you may not like in the beginning can be the hero later on, provided he or she makes it that far.

Visually, the game is incredible, sometimes verging on uncanny valley due to some recognizable faces like Hayden Panettiere and Peter Stormare. The excellent visuals enhance the atmosphere making some scenes that little bit more tense. Every year has a game that is a treat you never saw coming; this year, that’s Until Dawn. Video games usually get panned for bad stories, and rightfully so in a lot of cases, but Until Dawn will have you after the opening hour and won’t let go until it’s all said and done. You can then go and have those water-cooler moments with others that have played it and share stories of how different things were for you. Mysteries may still be there even after a couple of playthroughs. It’s one of those games that will keep you coming back for more, even if that means seeing characters meet their maker.

Until Dawn will surprise you in more ways than one with 4/5 stars.


Jason Redmond

Until Dawn at CeX

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