The story follows eight friends, visiting a mountain getaway to celebrate the winter. However, as time progresses, things begin to take a sinister turn. As bodies start to pile up, the group begins to realise they are not alone on the mountain.
The use of genre is what makes it stand out so incredibly well. We have seen choice driven experiences cover everything from crime dramas to political thrillers but never slasher horror, and Until Dawn embraces this wholeheartedly to its own benefit. As with every other game, the core plot needs to railroad the main storyline despite changes, but there is added investment when you drop potential deaths into the mix. Reacting too slowly, making the wrong choice or misjudging a person can result in another murder, completely changing who is left by the end. This offers incredible impact and vastly more replay value than seen in other games.
While QTEs and interacting with items are core to the story, the game offers a few side elements to keep things interesting. First among these is the personality system. You can gauge how people will react based upon their general personality traits, which can be measured and judged via a stats screen. Interestingly though, these can change with certain choices. Making daring decisions will increase someone’s bravery, while others might make them more nervous in future events. Atop of this, the main action itself is broken up by an interview with a psychiatrist and another individual, set a year after the event. Certain choices, decisions and points in this can alter what scares and secondary elements appear in the main story.
A few notable problems do arise in Until Dawn, notably that it can sometimes be too cheesy for its own good. While it might be aiming for a Cabin in the Woods style story, the archetypical nature of certain characters and a weaker second half do lessen the experience. The visuals can also be hampered by some surprisingly awkward camera angles, and the QTE system can prove to be occasionally infuriating with some difficult or abrupt signals.
How much you’ll love this one will depend upon your taste in horror but, to anyone who adores 90s to early 2000s horror, this is easily a day one purchase.
UNTIL DAWN / DEVELOPER: SUPERMASSIVE GAMES / PUBLISHER: SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT/ PLATFORM: PLAYSTATION 4 / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW