Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be stuck in the woods with seven of your closest friends who are all jerks to each other? Have you wondered what it would be like to be chased through said forest by an unknown being? If you said yes to either of these questions, “Until Dawn” probably has the answers.
If you have spent any amount of time looking at video games on the internet, you have probably heard of “Until Dawn.” For those who haven’t, it’s the newest horror game you can get on the Playstation 4. Essentially, it is a playable horror movie, where you determine what each character does in each situation, and what you choose determines the fate of each character. You can make it through the game with everyone surviving, everyone dying or a mixture of the two. The fact that each character is out of the game once you accidentally kill them makes the entire atmosphere of the game that much more stressful.
The plot of the game, while entertaining, doesn’t bring anything new to the horror genre. The game starts off with all of the characters in a cabin in the woods. Seven of the characters decide to pull a prank on another person, Hannah (whose brother is passed out and can’t partake). The prank gets taken too far and Hannah runs into the woods. Beth, her sister, follows Hannah to comfort her, because running into the woods seemed like a proper solution to the problem. They get cornered by a masked man and fall off of a cliff to their demise — and none of their friends know what happened to them. A year later, the two sisters’ brother Josh invites the remaining friends, Samantha, Mike, Jessica, Ashley, Emily, Matt and Chris, to the cabin to mourn the loss of his sisters. From there, things get real. A psycho starts to attack them and crazy, carnivorous monsters start to chase them down. You get to determine what happens.
The place the game really shines is the graphics and voice acting. “Until Dawn” looks beautiful. The textures are crisp, and the character models look all too real. The detail makes the game more relatable and makes you care about the characters more than you otherwise would. The game is also littered with amazing voice actors, fronted by Hayden Panetierre, who push an already great script over the top.
Although the game looks and sounds great, it does have its flaws. The controls are comprised entirely of the PS4’s motion controls and quick time events. When you have to choose an option or look at an item, you rotate the controller the way the screen prompts you. While it’s a good idea, it can be wonky and cause frustration in the more stressful parts of the game.
When playing a horror game, there is one important question that makes or breaks the game: is it scary? The answer for that is yes and no. The game is filled left and right with jump scares, but after your heart slows down, they quickly leave. There were multiple times when playing it where I practically jumped out of my seat, which is always a good thing. But none of the scares really stick with you. It also uses the “gross factor” a bit too much for my taste. It scares you physically, but never really mentally, which is why I thought the game was ineffective.
All-in-all, “Until Dawn” is a beautiful game with an amazing story that simply falls flat in two major areas. If it weren’t entirely based on motion control and quick-time events, it would be a lot better. Also, the game needed to do a bit more than make me jump and gross me out to actually be scary. So if you want to jump a bunch of times (and honestly, laugh a couple of times) I would highly recommend “Until Dawn.” Developer Supermassive Games created a beautiful game that unfortunately won’t stick with you more than two days after playing it. You can pick it up at any game store or on the PS4 marketplace for around $60, but I would recommend waiting until it drops down to $20 or $30.