I always look forward to Quantic Dream games. Though Until Dawn isn’t a Quantic Dream game, it plays and looks exactly the same as Quantic Dream games (Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls, Indigo Prophecy). So I was looking forward to this!
Maybe it took Supermassive Games, Until Dawn’s developer, to recognize that Quanitc Dream’s formula translated to teen-horror flick would be an insanely fun experience. Even considering Quantic Dream’s entire body of work, I think Until Dawn is the most successful use of the style yet.
When watching a slasher, isn’t it always the case that the viewer “knows better” than the character? We say things like, “No! Don’t get in there you idiot! Arghh, what are you thinking?!” Well, now we get the chance to be that character and make those decisions. And it’s a blast.
Until Dawn is not just a great concept, but nearly every aspect is executed very well. The graphics are very satisfying, the voice acting leaves nothing to be desired, the body animations and movements are very authentic, the faces are superbly rendered, the sound design is well-refined, and the script was surprisingly good. This story is built for those who think they know everything that’s going to happen before it happens. I was unable to correctly predict much about this story, which is good. Even better that the reveals are super exciting.
But the best thing about this game is its ability to transport us to a fun evening at Halloween movie night. It’s everything you could want in a teen-slasher/horror film including fun, varied characters, plot twists and turns, wicked suspense and chase scenes, uber-creepy environments, tons of funny/cheesy dialogue, and the occasional campy scream. And the player is bound make personal covets with the characters, just like in a movie with a group of friends who are about to get eaten by zombies.
Playing this game is like spending a night with Cabin in the Woods, Saw, and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. It takes just about the same amount of time too… which is short for a game, but ultimately expected for a game like this. I will probably not play this game again, because there’s just nothing like the first time. Second plays are dull in comparison, but that doesn’t keep me from loving this type of game. I just wish they’d roll them out more often.
My rating for 2015’s Until Dawn for PS4 is…
I had a lot of fun with this experience while it lasted. These games don’t have much replay value and can be beaten in a night of play, but I don’t expect that to matter much. The experience is what matters.
The only complaint I have with it is the punishment tendencies. I noticed in the later chapters that there is very little way to tell if an action might kill one of your characters, to the point where it would seem unfair if they died. As gamers, we’ve been trained to think we’ll be punished if we make a decision that is normally considered unjust (or if we totally botch the quick-time events). But in this game, it could be anything that leads to a character’s demise, even electing to save another character rather than yourself. I learned it the hard way, causing two of my characters to die doing what I thought was the charitable thing. It seems wrong, but I suppose random cause and effect is more realistic than a magical force handing out rewards for good deeds. But still… being aware that it was the writer/developer’s decision to put these effects, it seems unnecessarily cruel…