"Until Dawn" Game Review - A Homage To Slasher Films

Until Dawn has had a relatively interesting history. While starting out as PlayStation Move game during the PS3 era, the game oddly enough escaped motion-control hell and made its way to PS4. Thus begging the question, how did it end up after that transformation?

Let me just start out by saying that Until Dawn is one of my favorite survival horror games in recent memory. The game presents itself as an homage to campy 90's slasher films. The game follows a group of teenagers as they travel to an isolated cabin in the middle of a frigid mountain. This date happens to fall on the year anniversary of the tragic death of two of their friends. While the threat appears to be a typical slasher-esque antagonist, as the story progresses, the narrative hides the true intentions and threats that are present.

The biggest marketing point of this game was its emphasis on choice and character interaction. Typically, this is a broken promise. So many games offer the illusion of choice. Countless times have I been led to believe that my actions in a game will shape the course of the way the game progresses, and this unfortunately wasn't true. However, Until Dawn delivers on this promise. The game touts the impact of the butterfly effect justifiably. Seemingly mundane decisions dictate whether or not a character lives. To simplify the depth of choice in this game, the player can finish the game with everyone one of the characters dying or none of them dying.

Since most of the characters adhere to horror movie tropes, I didn't expect to grow attached to the characters. However, the first character death during my first playthrough shattered me. I almost instantly wanted to start over. Similar to the Telltale games, no matter how unendearing a character is, the mere act of playing as a character and facing actual decisions and consequences helps to provide a frame of reference for determining why that character is that way. This is all enhanced by the stellar writing, voice acting, and models of the characters. When the player can see the expression of a character as that character watches his or her friend die in a brutal way, developer Supermassive has succeeded in immersing the player in this grim and dark situation.

There has never been a game like Until Dawn. A narrative-based horror game has intrigued me to the point where upon completing the game I instantly began another play through. While the pacing can be inconsistent at certain times, especially the introductions of the characters, Until Dawn kept my interest during the game and well after.

Nerdbot Original Review

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