Until Dawn is an interactive horror drama video game exclusive to PlayStation 4 where players take control of eight young adults and guide them through what is essentially a survival horror in a bleak, backwoods campy movie.
To say that this is a horror movie with extra cheese would be underselling developer Supermassive Games’ excellent work on providing every horror trope into the “butterfly effect” system into the game’s mechanics. Whenever players make choices during the game those choices affect how the game plays out, and that can have a profound and discernable effect on who lives and — of course – on who dies.
Atmospheric and cheesy fit the game’s essence and style
The eight characters of the game go on an ill-fated vacation to a mountaintop retreat that is only accessible by a rickety cable car. It has a relatively small map that consists of numerous small segments that are also somewhat claustrophobic and made up of numerous horror tropes such as snow-filled areas, a weird morgue, and ramshackle rooms with failing electricity.
The third-person camera also tends to follow close and will tend to pick strange angles that teeters and skitters with a tendency to make it feel like “something” is watching.
The objective of the more static movement of the camera is to provide a more cinematic effect and drive storytelling and let the player allow dialogue and acting to compel them. As events unfold emotions will run high – especially as action scenes begin to trigger.
The game also includes players to pay attention as they require reflexes for quick actions (button presses to avoid sudden death from missing an “A” or an “X” press).
Graphics and music blend to create an orchestral scoring with the non-linear story
The music of Until Dawn is designed to be reactive to the scenes that are being played out; it becomes louder as the player character approaches a threat. While composing for the game, orchestral scores were designed to keep this in mind, mixing both melodic and atonic sounds together.
The storyline itself can be described as non-linear, as a result multiple playthroughs can be seen as creating totally different outcomes. No two would be alike – due to the “butterfly effect” described above – as player actions at the beginning of the game can dramatically change the later stages of the game in critical ways.
Although this can be somewhat problematic – as it leads to obvious inconsistences in the story – the end result can still be extremely fun for players looking to have a good time. The glib, humorous, and hilarious nature of the acting in the game often helps cover for the cheesy nature built into the game itself.
The films that helped inspire the atmosphere and subsequent inspiration for Until Dawn include such genre greats such as Psycho, The Haunting, The Exorcist, Halloween, Poltergeist, Evil Dead II, and others.
Until Dawn began frightening and murdering teenage lotharios in 2015 only for the PlayStation 4 worldwide.