I looked up and saw horror. My friends’ corpses lay headless and sprawling overhead, nested like dolls over their dirty meat hooks. It made me and my companion cringe. How was it that this sweet vacation turned into something horrifying? Weren’t we forewarned with the coming storm? An escaped murderer? Or is it a secret buried beneath this mountain? Holding a vomit, we trudged on, leaving or departed comrades to their surprisingly gruesome end. With the clues that we gathered, the monster’s name could be (SPOILERS!)
The name is so original and sounds safe.
The PS4-exclusive game, Until Dawn, is one rickety short but satisfying ride that brandishes itself as a tale armed with the usual teenage-horror tropes. If you’re a fan of the genre, the plot is not that different. After an apparent accident during their previous vacation, a group of friends gather on the same spot to commemorate and ease the sorrow. Characters include, but are not limited to, the usual promiscuous girl, the macho team leader, the smart friendly guy, the joker, and the whining bitch. Yep, sounds about wrong as any film out there. Anyhow, to no one’s surprise, things go haywire. Each of the friends disperse to enjoy the night and they get picked off during their isolation. Going from worse to worst, they managed to come up with a simple but incredibly hard solution: to last Until Dawn. (DUN DUN DUN!)
Characters have their unique traits and their relationships with the other cast can vary during the whole ordeal.
How It Plays
Who wouldn’t? Right? RIGHT?!
Until Dawn plays similar to adventures such as Heavy Rain and Fahrenheit. It’s a story-centric game that gives players the hand in dictating how it flows. It flows in an episodic manner, with each episode giving the player control over one of the eight protagonists. It is then up to the player if he or she can live through the night and survive the horrors until the sun rises.
Each butterfly wing updates and shows how your previous choice affected your current standing.
Choices are what Until Dawn banks upon. Button prompts hover across the screen to signify choices that could be made and sometimes, they also have time limits. Doing nothing is a choice equal to doing the two other things. However, each one is ambiguous. Some menial actions can lead to the apparent death and end of a character. Interspersed between these ‘choice’ mini-games are opportunities for exploration and lots of action cues and button presses.
Take that deodorant by pressing R2. Or save peoples’ lives by pressing that red shiny button!
There are two modes of control: motion-based and controller-based. It can be changed in the middle of the game. I chose the motion-based one since I’m quite itching for a different gaming experience. This proved to be a bit cumbersome as there are some instances where-in motion can be quite sensitive which can have significant impact on your character’s fate.
The Illusion of Choice
Again, Until Dawn revolves upon the choices that the player makes. You can be a total douche, an incredibly dense and clumsy idiot, or a smart-ass if you wish it to be. There are consequences for each play and some of the characters may not react positively to the actions despite them being harmless in nature. Some are even useless.
Choices become less relevant as you reach the end.
The Illusion of Choice comes with some tasks that require button prompts. There are events where-in each choice leads to the same thing and that is quite lazy for a very elaborate game about choices. This shortsightedness can be excused, but it is still a sad chink for this huge game.
The Trinket Collector
Totems offer glimpses or foreboding danger.
Spliced within the heart-thumping gameplay is the collection of various trinkets scattered by an unknown entity across the game world. During the playthrough, certain objects can give clues and light to why things are what they are. Totems scattered across the mountain give clues as to what the player might encounter during the next few hours. Some pictures and objects can be examined, giving a bigger picture of what is happening. As good as the intentions are, they come off as good spoilers. As I approached the end of the game, the twist itself wasn’t as spectacular as I expected it to be since I was able to piece together the clues beforehand.
Clues are scattered all across the mountain. But is curiosity a curse or a positive trait?
It could’ve been great if it weren’t for my meddling curiosity and my apparent completionist attitude going turbo.
Until Dawn can be taken as a film translated into a video game. And with that in mind, visual and audio is at their prime. It utilizes the engine used in Killzone: Shadow Fall and it pushes the PS4 to its limits. Each model is an actor/actress’ liking, From action to their facial expressions, the developers managed to incorporate film elements into a game that branches out.
There are some framerate drops here and there but it can be excused since most of those technical hiccups arise during cutscenes that feature either a large number of characters or a fistful of fur.
But Can It Last Until Dawn? (Verdict)
I’m genuinely impressed by how they make each character unique in both face and actions. You’ll find yourself rooting for one and hating one. The stereotypes are there together with their hidden weaknesses and strengths. As they usually say, it is in dire situations that heroes and incredibly irritating friends arise. And that is what happens in Until Dawn.
Is it a maniac? A deranged lunatic? Or something else?
But as graphics, story, and presentation goes, Until Dawn is not a perfect game. It suffers from the disadvantages of its theatric theme with its short playthrough and low replay value. It is as good as the cheesy horror film that can be presented in overnight gatherings with friends. Once done, it’s time for it to hit the shelves or for another batch of friends. I also have qualms with some of the choices. I sometimes frown with some illogical outcomes as if Until Dawn’s puppeteer is a comedic psychopath. There are also some times where-in I found myself blurting out, “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT?!” or “THAT IS JUST INCREDIBLY STUPID!”
At the end of the day, with all its faults and cracks, Until Dawn is still a recommended game for me. Yes, the story is super typical, some choices are like farts, and it is short. But undeniably, it is one sweet experience if you’re after one that’s different from the explosions, car chases across vast deserts, Fulton-ing, and gunfights. It can safely stay in your shelf, awaiting the day when a curious kid or a family visitor needs a haunting welcome or just something to keep them from bugging you.
Until Dawn is a PS4-exclusive that can’t be experienced by Xbox One owners and can also incur a smut groan from members of the PC Master Race. And no, it’s not available in the WiiU.
Until Dawn Review
Until Dawn Review
Until Dawn Review
Until Dawn Review