Leading up to Halloween, I wanted to finish a pretty creepy game that I had started a while back with my wife and then restarted with a friend called Until Dawn by Supermassive Games. This game came out early into the PS4’s life and shares a lot of characteristics with a choose your own adventure book. It’s a game about making decisions and the consequences behind each of them. It aims to tell a pretty specific story but allows you to control elements of the outcome. Before we jump into the premise, I want to say that there will be a few spoilers ahead and I will be writing about my experience so let me know how you liked it or who KEPT ALIVE.
The story basically goes like this. One year after two sisters go missing because of a prank gone wrong, a group of friends comes back together at the same cabin to be with Josh on the anniversary of his sister’s disappearance. I can honestly say that as the game twisted and turned, I wasn’t quite prepared for the level of depth that they brought to the story. The characters themselves all have very unique personalities and represent some pretty classic horror movie tropes. You have the cool guy, the slut, the smart girl, the nerd, the rich kid, the jock, and the unstable. There is a psycho after the group, a mysterious man on the mountain, and strange creatures living in the mines. It’s a tale of revenge and deceit with a good amount of horror mixed all up in there. It does it well and I was genuinely looking forward to finishing to see what happened.
All of the characters end up in very different scenarios and it feels fun to play as each because although you may hate what they said earlier in the story or how they interact with other characters, it is your job to keep them alive. That, in essence, is the crux of the gameplay. Your goal is to play in a way that keeps every character alive in the end (which is possible). As you go though the story, you make decisions. Some matter and some don’t but make sure you get the ones that matter right or you might face a gruesome death. A lot of the actions in the game are quick time events (QTE) which means simply pressing a button with the right timing or choosing a direction. There are a bunch of cheap jump scares but overtime they evolve into some truly horrifying imagery. You’re always on edge waiting for the next one and the game’s deliberateness with the motions make you feel like it could happen at anytime. What I mean by the deliberateness is that often you have to do two motions just to open a cabinet leaving a lot of suspense of what is inside.
The game puts a lot of weight into your decisions and there are a ton of branching paths on where you could go. They have a system called the butterfly effect where when you choose one thing, it will affect another in the future of the gameplay. Once, as Sam, I left a bat in the basement and then was able to grab it again when I was being chased. I could have chosen a different option though and the bat may not have been there. There’s a lot of pressure to make the right decision and since I was handing off every other chapter with a friend, it was fun to see what each of us chose. There are also totems and clues strewn throughout the game that tell you something that could happen to one of the characters and help you to piece together what happened to the sisters or originally on the mountain.
Overall, there is a little jank to the movement sometimes and some of the acting I could go without but there is a lot of charm to this game. Right after I finished it, I wanted to go back and see what else could happen. There is a satisfying ending to the game, and although we killed more of the cast than I expected, it wraps up nicely. I hope the make a sequel to Until Dawn that is just a completely new story. I’d love to play something just like it but maybe a little more involved on the mechanics. In the end, I give Until Dawn a 4 out of 5 review cities.