Hello there, mortals! Oh, don’t mind me – I’m just having a bit of trouble changing my pants, what with the bad back and all. Why do I need new pants, you ask? Well, quite simply, because I just finished reviewing SuperMassive Games’ Until Dawn on PS4, and it scared the fuck out of me.
Until Dawn is a horror adventure game / interactive movie – basically the videogame equivalent of the classic Choose-Your-Own Adventure novels from years gone by. There is very little in the way of combat – essentially you will spend your time as one of the various protagonists, exploring the haunting environments in each chapter and finding clues and collectibles that will help you piece together the truth behind the supernatural events that have befallen a group of friends that have reconvened at an isolated mountain lodge, one year after tragedy befell them at the same place. (Editor’s Note: This was all EWE needed to hear before announcing “They went back? They’re too fucking stupid to live – kill ’em all, baby!”) I stand by my statement – they’re idiots. That being said, they certainly are pleasant to look at idiots – the character models and set pieces in Until Dawn are simply breathtaking, and blur the line of the uncanny valley moreso than any other game I remember playing to date. This is possible by the limited amount of interaction that the player has in high-action situations – for the most part, the fast-moving action scenes feature only the occasional timed button press from the player.
Speaking of the cast of characters – they are not just well-rendered, but they are also well-developed. While they certainly start out clearly entrenched in the various horror-movie character stereotypes, each goes through development (assuming, of course, that your choices along the way allow them to develop beyond getting, you know, dead) and grow as people and characters along the way. That isn’t necessarily to say that they are particularly likable, however. There were plenty of times that I found myself rooting more for the killers and traps than I did for my obnoxious band of followers
What follows is a series of branching paths and meaningful choices, choices that determine who will live or who will die, who will be trusted and who will be betrayed, and whether a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could really lead to this entire group being brutally murdered. “Combat” is limited to a few quick time events, similar to any of the others in the game, but involving crosshairs and a weapon. The game is broken up into chapters, with each chapter having a recap of what has gone on in the previous chapters. It’s a nice recap for those that will play the game in chunks and may need a refresher when they come back to it. The music and sound effects are absolutely stellar, giving weight and tension to every moment, every impact of steel on flesh, every desperate scream for help.
While I am generally not a huge fan of the adventure/interactive film genre of gaming, Until Dawn is a wonderful exception. It is also a game with a tremendous amount of replay value – there are a number of different endings, all dictated by the different choices the player makes throughout the course of the game. Particularly if you come to sympathize with a character and they wind up dead, or you detest a character but they somehow escape alive, you’ll want to see what you can do to alter those outcomes.
THE VERDICT – EWE SAYS:
So that brings us to the end of another bit of my wisdom that I give to you, my little minions. Use it wisely, and share it with others. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to see if urine can be washed out of robes or if I should just set them on fire now. I also foresee a significant amount of couch time with my shrink in my near future, possibly curled up in the fetal position and sucking my thumb. Until next time! – EWE