Until Dawn Review
Until Dawn's Premise
In the prologue of Until Dawn, tragedy strikes when a group of young adults meet up to party at a cabin in the mountains. One year later, the same bunch reconvene to party once again and mourn their losses. However, they'll soon learn that far more awaits them in the chilly mountains than they bargained for...will they survive until dawn?
And so Until Dawn begins. Unlike many horror video games, this isn't a shooter—gameplay consists of exploration, quick-time events, and difficult choices that morph the plot of the game. So how does the adventure hold up? Read on to discover the successes and failures of Until Dawn!
As of this writing, Until Dawn can only be played on a PlayStation 4, so grab yourself some Sony hardware and enjoy the game!
O Death (Theme of Until Dawn)
Let's examine several triumphs of the game:
- Definitely scary (prepare for many jump scares)
- Players make several important decisions
- Great graphics and soundtrack
- Interesting plot and mystery
This is a horror game, and because you get to decide how multiple characters handle situations, it quickly engulfs you within its world. You really feel a bond to the diverse cast; they all have their strengths and faults, but you become a part of them and their story through the decisions you make.
Fittingly enough for a game utilizing a mechanic called the Butterfly Effect, your decisions often have long-lasting repercussions, making each one a tense, brain-racking choice. Additionally, the graphics look superb and the music helps set the isolated, horrific setting. You'll be on the edge of your seat wondering who—or what—is behind the terrifying events.
Players tend to be divided on quick-time events, timed button presses during cutscenes, but I enjoy them as a nice way to keep you engaged in the cutscenes rather than just watching.
I love this game; listing its failures requires some nitpicking:
- A few deaths feel cheap
- Some choices are faked
- Unnessary number of recaps
Let's start from the top. The way that your choices impact the plot works superbly, however an occasional cheap death can be frustrating. For example, one character can die without failing any quick-time events based on an incredibly minor choice much earlier in the game.
Again, Until Dawn offers a staggering number of meaningful choices, but sometimes no matter your pick, the same outcome occurs. To be fair, the game often subtly encourages you to choose what it wants you to do, and thus you never know your decision didn't really matter, but subsequent playthroughs can lead to small letdowns. Still, most of the choices are real and very significant.
One final minor gripe: each chapter begins with a quick recap of past events. While this can serve as a helpful reminder of your past decisions, it often includes events that literally just happened and are very much fresh on your mind. Still, these moments allow for players to catch their breath, helping regulate the pacing of action-packed sequences.
Meet the Characters
Here's quick rundown of Until Dawn's cast, who are largely modeled after their voice actors. Their choices and survival are in your hands:
- Sam (Hayden Panettiere) - An athletic, kind girl. Often tries to mend disagreements between her friends.
- Jessica (Meaghan Martin) - Confident to the point of arrogance, Jess is pretty and she knows it. Currently dating Mike.
- Emily (Nichole Bloom) - Intelligent but bossy, Emily can be grating but may harbor hidden depths. Mike's ex, currently dating Matt.
- Ashley (Galadriel Stineman) - Timid yet kind, Ashley believes in the occult. Has a crush on Chris.
- Chris (Noah Fleiss) - Geeky but humorous and kind, Chris struggles to make his romantic feelings towards Ashley known.
- Matt (Jordan Fisher) - Athletic and good-natured, Matt deals with the awkwardness of dating Mike's ex, Emily.
- Mike (Brett Dalton) - Good-looking and popular, Mike can be stuck-up, but finds courage in the toughest times. Emily's ex, currently dating Jessica.
- Josh (Rami Malek) - Josh mourns his loss from the events of the prologue, but seeks to bring his friends together once more to honor their loved ones. Close with Sam.
You can play the game solo if you prefer, but I reccomend playing in groups where each person selects one or two of the game characters to control (you only play as one at a time), letting you and your friends shape the story together.
This game differs from most in its gameplay, and players need to be able to handle some scares, but that's the fun of the adventure—how it successfully draws you into its world and hands you the reigns for the story. Feel free to share your thoughts on Until Dawn, and I'll see you at our next review!