Choose Your Fate

Supermassive Game’s Until Dawn went under the radar for quite a while when it was originally unveiled a few years ago for PlayStation 3, but this year at Gamescom it made its triumphant return via PlayStation 4 and boy was I happy that it came back. I had the opportunity to have a crack at the games unique formula at this years EB Expo, and here’s the truth, the horror fan inside of me was absolutely loving it.

Until Dawn focuses on eight teenagers as they spend a night in an abandoned log cabin during the anniversary of the death of one of their friends. What they don’t know is that the abandoned log cabin isn’t so abandoned after all – as it contains a serial killer inside of it. Good place to stay at guys, really. The game is a take on the classic teen slasher sub-genre of horror and it’s something that I’ve taken great interest in since it’s re-unveiling in August this year. I’m a huge fan of the horror genre itself, whether it’s creepy ghost movies, classic slasher and dare I say it – whatever you’d call the Saw and Hostel films… I love it all, and seeing a teen slasher replicated in game form is an awesome idea. It really comes down to the execution however that will guide its success.

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The game plays like a classic third person survival horror title and controls like one as well, however there are some intriguing control choices that confused me for a moment but soon had me clamoring for more. Instead of using the right analog stick to move the flashlight you’re holding or move the camera like other titles (Alan Wake, for example) – you have to use the DualShock 4’s accelerometer (tilt motion) instead, which is slightly jarring at first but it really opens up the immersion for the player after adjusting. Likewise, inspecting objects has you holding R2 and tilting the controller back and forth to move the object around. I absolutely loved this decision because it was unique and really opened up a new world for players to engage in. While watching a horror movie – especially something like a teen slasher – you’re constantly thinking “no, don’t go there you idiot!” Whereas in Until Dawn, you can go there by your own decision because when it comes down to it, this is still a cheesy teen slasher after all. Interacting with objects is still mapped to the X button and everything else controls like a third person game would, but its the way the game uses the DualShock 4 that is the most impressive element of the game that I’ve engaged with so far.

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Another big part to the presentation of Until Dawn is, of course, the graphics. Until Dawn looks absolutely next-gen, let me just throw that out there. The game is gorgeous and really gives off the vibe of ‘teen slasher’ with perfection. Character models are wonderfully worked and look nearly life-like, even down to the fibers and threads in a characters beanie. The environment that the unsuspecting teenagers find themselves in is also well crafted, featuring various daft hallways, gloomy basements and entirely scary slaughterhouses. It’s clear that a lot of work has gone into crafting the environment and characters in Until Dawn and making it the best it possibly can be graphically, and that’s a credit to Supermassive Games.

“Character models are wonderfully worked and look nearly life-like, even down to the fibers and threads in a characters beanie.”

Because Until Dawn is a teen slasher, jump scares were feverish throughout. It wasn’t as scary as P.T. was, but let’s face it – nothing will probably be as scary as that for quite some time. Until Dawn did, however, have some genuinely eerie moments throughout and it even made me – a seasoned horror fan – jump like crazy at one point. As I guided my character Ashley throughout the basement area of the demo (with Chris, her something something – I don’t really know, this is a teen slasher) all I could think about was how awesome the atmosphere was. I have a feeling that this game will be something I’ll really enjoy playing late at night with the lights off, because you know – I’m a little bit crazy.

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Another great thing about Until Dawn is that it plays like a Telltale game. You have to decide what to do in various situations and that determines what will happen next. From telling Chris he’s an idiot for wanting to go further down into the dark to deciding whether to investigate a mysterious noise or follow Chris through a large door he can’t even keep open – the opportunity to craft your own story in Until Dawn is there – and it’s a major draw card for a game like this. Supermassive has been talking about how there are over 100 different endings you can unlock in the game, and that’s really exciting, because after all is said and done I’m going to want to go back and see how I can change various characters actions and hopefully change their fate.

To cap this all off, Until Dawn has a pretty stellar voice cast comprised of Hayden Panettiere, Rami Malek, Meaghan Martin, Brett Dalton, Nichole Blom, Jordan Fisher, Galadriel Stineman and Patrick Molleken. Sure, they’ll probably be saying some of the most cliche lines you’ll ever hear (thanks to this being a teen slasher), but it’s great to know that the developers have pulled together an excellent cast to do just that.

As an avid horror fan, Until Dawn excites me greatly. I love how the game controls, I really like the fact that it comes down to your choices and while I’m not a fan of clowns, I like that the serial killer in the game wears a creepy mask that is reminiscent of one. Until Dawn has shot up to the third spot on my most anticipated list for next year and I can’t wait to see more of the game in the future. Horror fans, this might and will be your cup of tea.

Until Dawn was previewed at the EB Expo 2014 Sony Event.