I think calling Until Dawn a horror game is a little bit misleading. It is basically an interactive horror movie, complete with a stereotypical plot and range of characters. The weirdest thing about the game though is that it somehow works.
Prior to jumping on the demo of the game, I got told something that drastically altered my time with the game. I was told that based on my choices anywhere between none to all eight of my characters would survive.
With that level pressure weighing on me, I jumped into the game determined to survive. The introduction sequence gave a bit of backstory to the chapter I was playing. Basically think of the most stereotypical horror plot ever and this was it. A group of young adults go on an isolated retreat, a psychopath appears and starts picking them off and you can pretty much guess the rest.
One area of concern that I do have about the game is that the characters were somewhat stupid and annoying, just like most horror movies. Fortunately I only had to put up with them for about 15 minutes, I could tell however that after a few hours I might start wanting them dead.
The game is also completely focused on choices with the general gameplay being a bit dull. Making choices generally involves moving the analogue stick to one side during a cutscene. If you are looking for a more gameplay focused horror adventure, you better look elsewhere.
I won’t give too much away about the demo or specific result of choices in the game as that would spoil the surprise. Straight from the go however I was inundated with choices that had no obvious answer providing what must be the most intense experience I have ever had with a video game.
One point in the game, I managed to find a flare gun thanks to a bit of looking around. I then got given a choice of which character to give it to, a question that really has no obvious answer. Later in the game, things started spiralling down and one of my characters died. I was told if I gave the flare gun to that character I could have saved them from what was a very gruesome death.
Alternatively, I could have made another decision that would have avoided the very distressing situation entirely.
The fact that my choices really do matter is something I believe is missing in many video games these days. Even many games that I’ve played which have claimed to have a focus on decision making, I’ve found my decisions to not really matter. I really enjoyed that every decision I made could very likely result in my characters ultimate demise. It makes thing tenser, more stressful, and ultimately more engaging.
I was told the game is about 10-15 hours long. If you are anything like me though, expect to get many more hours out of the game. As soon as I finished the demo, I wanted to jump back on again and see what could have been if I did a few things differently.
Until Dawn is launching exclusively on PS4 on August 26th this year. If you love games where your decisions matter, do yourself a favour and keep your eyes on this one.