Horror games were nothing new to video games but Until Dawn helped usher in a new genre of survival horror interactive games. The decision-making, butterfly effect, horror game was released in 2015 by Supermassive Games and Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 4. What makes this horror game unique and does it see the sunrise? We’re staying up until dawn… in this Until Dawn review!
Until Dawn Plot:
The game opens up at a party in a cabin in the snowy Blackwood Mountains. Twin sisters Hannah and Beth are chased into the woods after a prank goes wrong. The twins stumble and fall off a cliff ledge where their bodies are never found.
After a year passes, their younger brother Josh invites the same group up to the family lodge to rekindle their friendships. The party is just one giant prank set up by Josh who wanted to avenge his sisters’ deaths on the friends that pranked them. Josh dresses up as a masked killer and terrorizes the group throughout the night. The group finds another scary individual on the mountain who has been walking around with a flamethrower. The man reveals that the mountain has been overrun by wendigos, former humans who have since turned into humanoid cannibals due to decades of cannibalism and inbreeding. (Think of the movie “The Descent” to get a better idea)
There are many different endings and depending on your actions yours will vary on how many characters are left alive by the time dawn comes. Between chapters in the game, you speak with Dr. Hill a psychologist that analyzes your fears and comments on the actions you’ve chosen. Each time you meet Dr. Hill the atmosphere in his office becomes less and less stable. It was a nice break from the game but I don’t think it added anything valuable to my Until Dawn review.
Let’s take a look at the characters in my Until Dawn and how they fared in my Until Dawn review:
Josh – He’s a college dropout who wants to pull the ultimate prank on his friends for causing his sisters’ deaths. He has become unstable mentally since the death of his sisters. He was studying psychology at college before dropping out. If he is still alive at the end of the game he is found in the mines having gone crazy and begins to eat bodies of the Wendigo.
Jessica – She’s the big boobed blonde of the group and of course you can get into a situation of making out and taking her top off, which I tried in my Until Dawn review. There was a sequence where Jessica is being dragged away. I made a mistake and she ended up being dragged into the mines where she died.
Sam – She’s the cute girl next door and more recognizably played by Hayden Panettiere. Her character was shown a lot in the trailers due to the famous actress portraying her.
Emily – She’s the cocky and bitchy bookworm Asain girl. She was killed in my Until Dawn review right before dawn by some Wendigos as they gouged out her eyes.
Mike – He’s a typical jock that just wants to have fun and is a bit immature.
Ashley – She reminds me of a dork. She’s the girl that could be cute if she tried but also is unsure of herself.
Matt – He’s another jock that is hoping to get a scholarship to college because his grades suck. Despite the curse of brothas always dying first in horror movies, my guy survived my Until Dawn review despite numerous close encounters.
Chris – Hah, nerd! He has glasses and embraces his brains. He’s into tech and gadgets and I managed to keep this geek alive.
So in recap, you have Josh who is running around trying to make it look like he is the killer but he’s not actually killing anyone. Then you have the mysterious stranger who again, is chasing after characters but he’s trying to warn them about the real danger on the mountain. The only real monsters on the mountains are the Wendigos who snatch up people and kill them. There are a few fucked up decisions that Josh can put on the player to decide and those decisions may result in the death of a character.
Once dawn arrives the police will make their way to the cabin and the surviving members of your group will be rescued.
Until Dawn Gameplay:
Until Dawn is based on decision-making in quick time events. Scenarios will come up either in dialogue or action sequences when you need to push the correct buttons or only have a few seconds to make up your mind on what to do like run or fight. I’m usually great at these events but I ended up killing three of my characters in my Until Dawn review and the game doesn’t let you restart or load a checkpoint. There’s an autosave that saves instantly making it impossible to reload your game if something bad happens. I loved that the developers put that in because someone like myself would try and restart the chapter for a perfect playthrough but I couldn’t because of the feature.
As a horror game, the atmosphere is generically creepy with a secluded cabin in a snowstorm surrounded by abandoned mines, crippled buildings, and eerie basements. There’s plenty of spooky elements but be aware of jump scares as they are littered throughout the game.
Once you make a decision you can see how it affects the rest of the game with the totem function. There are hundreds of endings so you can see what you did changes how the characters act and what events happen. The amount of both minor and major changes are impressive. It’s fun to see what path your playthrough took you down and the chaos that you caused.
The animation and models of the characters were fantastic with each face looking exactly like the voice actor’s making the characters come to life. Sam is played by Hayden Panettiere and she looks just like her. The realistic charm, personality, and looks of each character were a big draw in the trailer.
I played this game by myself although my wife would like to lie and say she played it too. In reality, she was too scared to touch the controller so she just watched me play and I could tell she really enjoyed seeing how it unfolded. To her, it was like watching a horror movie as she hid behind blankets or my shoulder as I bravely played without her help to complete my Until Dawn review. There were times I instantly regretted decisions in the game and there were times I was shocked that I made it out alive.
Until Dawn Review Score:
Until Dawn isn’t perfect but it gives you what you want from an interactive horror game. There’s not much skill involved other than making sure you push-button correctly but it’s a lot of fun. Dr. Hill’s segments don’t add anything to the game and I found them unnecessary but the wide cast of characters makes it so that whoever is playing can in some way relate to one of them. If you like scares and seeing how your decision changes everything, definitely pick this game up.
Until Dawn scores an 8.3 out of 10.
What would you write in your Until Dawn review? Do you remember when Until Dawn first came out? How many people survived your first playthrough? Who was your favorite character and who did you hate? Did you jump at any scares? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!