Supermassive Games’ PlayStation 4 exclusive Until Dawn is around two and a half months away, and while the time is nearly upon us to let our eight unsuspecting protagonists loose inside a house made for murder – it’s important to take a look at how Until Dawn is changing things up for the horror genre in gaming and why it’s so refreshing to see.
Until Dawn was originally unveiled as a PS3 Move-centric title at Sony’s Gamescom conference in 2012 and went fairly dark from that day forward. Nothing was particularly said, nothing really mentioned – it was considered to be in some sort of development hell, unfortunately. Even during that time, Until Dawn as a Move-exclusive title was a major risk, and kudos to whoever stepped in, halted production and shifted the focus towards a PS4 version of the game that didn’t utilize the flimsy and ultimately unintuitive piece of equipment Sony so hastily discarded to their pile of shame.
Supermassive Games re-revealed Until Dawn at Gamescom last year to a strong and feverish reception from fans – the hardware and development was at the right point to move forward with the project. High profile actors and actresses joined up with the game and upon its re-reveal, I quietly got extremely excited for what the developers were doing with the project.
I’m a massive horror fan through and through, from the classic slashers of yesteryear like Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street to the modern tales of terror like Insidious and most recently It Follows – so it’s fairly obvious that Until Dawn would appeal to me. I had the chance to play it at the EB Expo in Australia last year and my impressions of the game were very positive. It mixes elements of classic slasher with a plethora of jump scares, differentiating paths and controls that make you feel angst and fear every time something goes creak around the corner. It’s the kind of game that fans of the horror genre have been craving for such a long time, and while we’ve had a few games that have tried to emulate this popular filmic formula, nothing has quite hit the mark.
Until Dawn utilizes what the slasher genre does best – create a scene with friends or strangers, isolate them with some sort of evil (whether it’s a killer or some sort of entity) and have them fight for survival. As horror fans would know, slashers become very predictable – and playing through horror games can fall into that trap as well as they’re always on such a linear and pre-constructed path. Yet Until Dawn’s butterfly effect of having choices continually matter and directly affect other characters around you turns the preemptive and predictable affair a modern slasher film possesses on its head – making the game’s replayability value high and cutting down on the predictability the genre is so well known for. The interactive experience of having every choice count for life or death is genuinely exciting and one I can’t wait to experiment with in August.
Until Dawn possesses qualities that can differentiate itself from the plethora of other games — specifically horror games — out there on the market. It’s a game built to be taken with a degree of seriousness and it’s evident that the team over at Supermassive Games has studied the formulaic qualities of the slasher film very closely. It’s an ode to horror fans who have craved an interactive experience like this, as time after time we’ve found ourselves bored with the dull affair of a modern slasher thanks to its unoriginal and lackluster structure that never seems to change, no matter how many years have passed. Now that you’re given the choice of how you approach your own fate in Until Dawn however, it makes things much, much more interesting.
Supermassive Games’ Until Dawn launches exclusively on the PlayStation 4 on August 24th.