Until Dawn is a Horror Survival Game with a difference. It plays similar to Heavy Rain, by which I mean your choices determine the outcome of the game. The butterfly effect system means that certain things that you do or choices that you make can hugely change your game, making everyone’s first play-through unique to them-self. I have to advise you that these games are best played without doing any googling or reading and just using your instincts and seeing where that takes you. Once you finish the game you can play again or go back chapter by chapter to see what you missed. I found it hilarious looking back and seeing what awful decisions I made!
The game starts in a lodge in a secluded snowy mountain. Eight friends are having a vacation when a tragic event occurs.This is the tutorial level that allows you to get a feel for the game and sets up the story nicely. The game then skips forward to the year anniversary of the accident. The group are continuing their tradition and returning to the lodge spend the night.
The game is played from eight different characters point of view. The goal is to see who can survive Until Dawn. As the night progresses we learn more about the threats that the characters face and how they link to the past. Each chapter brings us an hour closer to dawn and there are 10 in total.
I wasn’t quite as attached to the characters as I was in Heavy Rain. I guess when there are so many characters they don’t get as much development and/or you don’t spend as long playing that character. Having said that, they were also a different age group in a totally different situation so it was never going to be the same. It just didn’t punch me in the feels quite as hard as Heavy Rain did. Nearly, but not quite. The characters themselves were quite cliche, from the jock guy to the geeky guy to the mean girls, but some of them changed as the game went on. I grew really fond of some of them that I hated in the beginning and was genuinely gutted when I lost a certain few of them.
Quite honestly.. if you aren’t a horror fan than this game probably isn’t for you. I adored Heavy Rain and was excited by the concept of this game. It turns out that I am a massive wimp and needed to recruit my Dad to help me play the scary parts. I got as far as Chapter 5 on my own before I couldn’t take it anymore. We do make a good team, he does the slow exploration parts where there are likely to be jump scares and then I take over for the fast parts as I am better at the QTE’s. I also make all of the decisions, which it turns out that I’m not great at doing – due to 1. being indecisive and 2. shockingly bad judgment.
I didn’t know what to expect from the horror side of things. When I started the game I thought it was a slasher game, from the things I’d heard and the tone of the game, but it turned out to be a bit of everything. Think of most horror movies you’ve seen. A bit of each of them has probably been incorporated one way or another. The atmosphere is very spooky and there are frights around every corner. If you are a hardened horror fan then you will be fine to play it alone in the dark. I screamed at parts and my Dad didn’t even flinch, it just depends on the individual. Overall though, even if it doesn’t scare you (which it probably will), you’ve got to be impressed by the variety they have managed to fit into one story. I had read in other reviews that the first half is best and that it got more silly as time went on so I was expecting to be disappointed, but in the end I really enjoyed how it all came together. I couldn’t predict what was going to happen and I thought it all fit together really well!
I can’t comment on the sound because I have the volume turned right down but I did notice while walking through the snow, the snow under your shoes sounds just like real life, I literally could have been walking out in real snow for all I knew. The only other part of the sound that I can comment on is that it gets loud when it makes you jump. The score must have been doing a good enough job to create the atmosphere though for me to need to turn it down in the first place. The ‘O Death’ song is great too.
It’s not the longest game to play through but it definitely has replay value, even if it is just to make all of the opposite choices and see what you end up with. I would recommend going for the Platinum trophy on this one. It’s a good way to see the majority of what there is to see and still enjoy it. Do your first play-through on your own then if you look up the trophies, you will only have to do two more play-throughs at the most to get platinum and they will both be different to your original one. I haven’t got mine yet – wimp – but I’ve got it planned, I only had to go back two chapters the first time, then I will have to do one more play-through from near the beginning. If you are doing this make sure to just use chapter select to restart your game instead of starting a whole new game.
I still can’t decide whether I liked the addition of the totems or not. Totems are collectible items that you find on the ground and they give you a small glimpse into a possible outcome. There are 5 different colours which equate to five different categories – Danger, Loss, Death, Guidance and Fortune. I did think it was a really clever idea, however at the same time it did influence some of my decisions, I would obsess when one of my characters was near fire because I had seen an explosion. I know that’s what they were there for but it makes me wonder whether the game would have been better without having these little clues.
Overall, it’s one to play, without a doubt. Fans of interactive movie games and fans of the horror genre are guaranteed to enjoy this game and it would be a great entry game for anyone who has never played before. Even if you are a wimp like me, keep the lights on, turn the volume down and have some friends over. Of course, if you want to play it how it’s supposed to be played I salute you. Dark, loud and shit-stained pants. Don’t go in expecting a masterpiece but do expect to have some fun.
SPOILERS AHEAD – DO NOT CONTINUE UNLESS YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE GAME
So here’s how my play-through went!
I didn’t shoot the animals at the beginning and I tried to keep the characters honest. I took the long route and failed 1 QTE while trying to save Jessica, she died a gory death. When it came to the saw trap I chose to kill Ashley, it killed Josh anyway and I thought I had made a mistake.. I was so angry at myself for pressing the wrong button.. it’s so funny looking back. I nearly got to the end of the herd of elk with Matt and Emily but I was sure this particular one was going to charge so I killed it.. bye bye Matt. Mike made friends with Wolfie. I chose for Chris to shoot Ashley when he had to choose between himself and her because I found her character quite annoying. Since I mucked up her death the first time I wanted to make up for it. What a terrible decision. So by the end of Chapter 5, I thought I only had 3 characters left – Chris, Sam and Mike since I thought I’d shot Ashley and Emily appeared to have fell from the fire tower. However in the next couple of minutes I find out that I still have 6 characters left and I learnt my lesson – no body? Not dead. Body? Still probably not dead.
This is the point that I made my Dad help me. Mike in the Sanatorium was too much for me. I kept finding clues that seemed to be heading towards zombies and I don’t do zombies. I googled that part because I was too scared to do it and couldn’t make myself go into the morgue even though nothing happened. I decided that I didn’t want to spoil anything else so I brought Dad in. When all was revealed that it was Josh I couldn’t believe it. And I still didn’t click on that I hadn’t actually made a mistake till later on. I had a feeling that the masked man was going to be a good guy so I was quite relieved when he appeared at the house and I was intrigued by the Wendigos since I had never heard of them and was fully expecting zombies. We went out to find Josh, and Chris made it all the way back to the house when that bitch Ashley wouldn’t let him in. I nailed all of the QTE’s and she locked us out. I couldn’t believe it.
Emily was bitten but we let her live, I assumed that if it was contagious we would have a chance to fight if she turned. Then instead of staying put they made the best decision ever to split up and leave the relatively safe area. Mike blew up the Sanatorium, poor Wolfie didn’t make it, lost him at the last possible opportunity as I didn’t barricade the door. Still kick myself for that. Ashley didn’t follow the strange noise, no good can ever come from that. Mike and Sam found Josh having a mental breakdown, then they split up again. As Mike was guiding Josh out, Josh was too late to recognise his ugly Wendigo sister and got his head squashed like a grape. Everyone met back up at the house for the final showdown.
This was my favorite moment of the entire game. ‘Don’t fucking move.’ No shit Mike! So I saw Mike’s plan. It was a great plan. Emily ran out of the house and I got the option to run for the light switch or try to save Mike. In hindsight it was a stupid decision but I didn’t want Sam to die so I ran. For some reason I never made the connection at the time that that was going to end the game. I thought I would switch to Mike and get the chance to save myself. Instead, him and Ashley fried. I deeply regret losing Mike, he was my fave character by the end. Two survivors I had. TWO. OF EIGHT. Told you, I make bad choices! At least that bitch Ashley finally died! And at least it didn’t take me long to get the worst ending trophy, I only had to go back 2 chapters!
Jess – Jaw ripped off by Wendigo
Matt – Fell off cliff and caved skull in
Chris – Decapitated by Wendigo
Josh – Head squashed by Wendigo
Ashley – Died in explosion
Mike – Died in explosion
Emily – Survived
Sam – Survived
How did your first play-through go? Make any stupid choices? Have any regrets? Did you do really well?
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