These last couple of years survival horror games has taken a prominent place in the interest of gamers around the world. Not since the Resident Evil series ruled the world have we seen this many survival horror games being released, some with greater success than others. The only problem with survival horror games lately has been nailing the gameplay with the suspense, but along comes Until Dawn
Until Dawn is a survival horror game which puts you in the position of a group of ten friends joining in to celebrate and party in a cabin in the middle of nowhere, sounds familiar? The concept isn’t new as this is the main recipe for most horror movies, but the difference here is that you get to control and play all the characters, and in a Tarantino-esque fashion they all get different scenes that eventually mix into one, and it is your job to see through it that they all survive. The game starts off however with taking out two of the characters, the twin sisters, and you as the player get to see what happens to them but the rest of the characters, and the game world don't know and they are reported missing.
A year passes and the brother of the two missing sisters wants the friends who are left to join up once again and form a sort of reunion in honour of the missing sisters and that is the cue for the beginning of the game. Not long after they all arrive the action begins and who you save, what action they take and what happens next is all up to the player as you are set with multiple actions that causes different reactions and all you know is help is coming, but not until dawn. So your job is to have as many of the characters survive through the night, cut off from everyone and everything else, with little to no power and no other way of communicating to the outside world, you are set for an action packed experience that literally lasts from start to finish.
The game plays heavily on the butterfly-effect, for those that don’t know what that means it is mainly that every action has a reaction. For example at the beginning of the game you are set with two horrible decisions and already at the start of the game I knew I had to replay this game at least twice to see the different reactions to the game.
So I played through Until Dawn twice, it is not the longest game but it is meaty enough to actually give me two almost completely different playthroughs. The first one I finished with five survivors and the last one I had only three. Some of the mistakes I did was on purpose the second time around but with some common sense, most of the decisions will play on who you are as a person, and to really dig deeper into your mind let me introduce the psychologist of the game, played by none other than Peter Stormare.
Peter Stormare, and everyone else for that matter, plays an excellent role in this game. The voice-acting and the motion capturing is incredible, which adds to the suspense and intensity of the game. Right from the start you probably have some idea who the different people are as they all have rather strong personalities but as the game progresses the interactions between the characters and the characters themselves change depending on how you choose to act on their behalf.
In between the gameplay you get cut scenes with Stormare who goes through a different set of psychological test where you at one point share your deepest and darkest fears based on how you personally feel about different images he presents to you, later on you are also set with pictures of the different cast and how you personally feel about them. If you then choose to do something that isn’t easy for you, making a hard decision he sometimes points that out for you in your next “session”. But the way the sessions act out as the game gets darker and darker is another incredible experience that needs to be experienced for yourself and not spoiled by anyone.
Seeing as the game has multiple game choices which effects the story at times this isn’t a game you can spoil in the same matter as other games, but be aware as there are many things in here that would suck if you would have them spoiled for you. There is so much to explore and find in form of objects that can help you, items that can be used to guide you and also different things you can find that can add more meat to the story and also help explain why things are the way they are. And if you think you know the ending early on, then please do stick around as there is bound to be something that pops up and surprises you, and I can almost guarantee that.
As I mentioned, there are items hidden around the game, and one of these are totems, which give you a quick glimpse into the future in form of a 2-3 second long clip of something that might happen later on. If you study these clips they can help guide you as at least two of these did for me, and when I replayed those parts things didn’t go as well as I would have liked them to when I chose not to follow the hints that was given to me.
The game looks and sounds absolutely beautiful, it might be one of the most realistic looking games I have ever played. The amount of work being put into the different characters facial animations, and not only the cut scenes which are breathtaking but some of the scenery you get to experience is without a doubt some of the most amazing in a game period. The way the light reflects realistic off the background just adds more suspense when you are walking around a dark place with only a lighter, torch or a lamp, and with the right analog stick you always control the light source which also is incredible well put together. Until Dawn is a beautiful looking game, on of the best I personally feel.
Until Dawn is an amazing experience, it banks heavily on player interactions and keeps the player invested from start to finish. It is like taking part in a horror movie where you finally can choose not to do the stupid things most people do in horror movies. With the psychological aspect of the entire experience you will become paranoid, angry, sad and somewhat scared at times depending on where you choose to take the story. The game ended with a satisfying twist for me as I had almost figured out what could be the possible outcome the game turned on me and surprised me. Until Dawn is a great game for anyone who likes horror movies, thriller movies or horror survival games if you like to choose the action for yourself, think more of a choose-your-own-adventure books/games more than anything else and if that sounds interesting for you then stay away from any videos and go try out Until Dawn right now.