Community Review: Until Dawn

Until Dawn might be the first big surprise of the 2015 'holiday' season.

It's weird. It's clunky. In a lot of ways you could even say that it's objectively bad. But it's also amazing and it's one of my favourite games of 2015 so far.

Here's what I love about it: this is a story driven video game. In that past story driven video games focused on choice had that aspiration to 'high art', whatever that means. They had an air of pretence about. Until Dawn doesn't have that. Here is a story driven, choice-focused game that is fully aware of itself as a homage to 'bad' art. This is a slasher movie, this is 'I Know What You Did Last Summer'. This is 'Dawson's Creek'.

I just love that video games (and the audience) have grown to the point where a game like this is not only viable, but celebrated. Perhaps my favourite thing about Until Dawn is that something so weird exists, and has managed to cater to such a wide audience. Not because it's good, not because it's a step forward for gaming as a medium, but because it's... kinda campy and b-grade. Like self-aware b-grade. How cool is that?

And not only does Until Dawn pay homage to teen slasher movies and bad teen TV, it also pays homage to the video games of the past -- like Resident Evil. There is a sense that games like Resident Evil are not separate from that tradition, but part of it, which makes things even better. To me a game like Until Dawn is a sign that games have 'made it'. As silly as it sounds. Turns out gaming didn't need its Citizen Kane, it just needed its Friday the 13th Part VII.


Comments

    Got my copy! Looking forward to playing it this weekend. Incidentally, EB Games was sold out when I went on Saturday morning.

      its a lot of fun! Jumped quite a few times and loved every second of it

      Ive got theories about the ending too, so I want to finish it to find out how far off I was

    Turns out gaming didn’t its Citizen Kane

    RIP editing.

    I don't know why everyone focuses on the teenage melodrama opening chapters. It quickly turns into a fantastic horror with twists and turns. More "The Descent" mixed with "The Shining".

    Dawson Creek! FFS. Were you playing the same game as me?

    Oh, god, it's so good! I felt like I was playing "cheesy '90s horror film" bingo the whole way through. Knife-wielding psycho, horny teens, isolated setting... and a bunch more I'm not gonna spoil here, but I can't think of any tropes that aren't present. Loved finding out the backstory behind the area, and the gradual discovery of... the other, slightly more horrifying chain of events, that I won't spoil. I somehow managed to get six people to the end - lost one to my own stupidity, and one to my lack of diligence.

      One of the ones I wanted to lose so far i actually WANTED to lose, so I dont feel bad at all

        I'm not through the whole game yet, but the one you WANTED to lose has to be Emily, right? God, she can happily die a painful death.

          SPOILER!

          Seems Emily wasnt actually dead... hmmm. Luckily, she has ended up having one of the more exciting and fun to play segments in the game!

    This is actually really addicting, fantastic story, cliche in some ways but that's to be expected chances are if you play this you'll do 2-3 playthroughs since it makes no sense to to leave at one so it has lots of playability.

    Gotta say love the game, there is jump scares galore but its the story that holds you to it. Makes you guess who is what and how. I got 1 person killed already and already regret it, wishing I can go back and change but too late.

    Last edited 31/08/15 11:46 am

    Decided on my favourite character early on.
    Did all I could to keep said person alive.
    Nearing the end of the game, things were looking great.
    Missed one single timed event with this character. Instant decapitation ensued. No mercy and no second chance.

    Needless to say, I love the game.

      Holy crap!

        I was gutted, but figured I'd keep going on with my play through, unlike a lot of people seem to. Save that person on my next run =)

      Same here, and something similar happened for me. The one person I cared about surviving met a sudden and brutal end late in the game because I momentarily forgot Horror Movie 101 - no QTE, no second chance, just a stark reminder that decisions have consequences.

      ...I kinda want to replay it and see how bad things actually get if you follow the tropes and make all the wrong choices...

    Story was teen slasher and great, game was simple but tricky at times and also great, and then it was more great all round. Almost saved 5 of them, need to go back and try a few things.

    Great!

    This game was the final push I needed to get a PS4. Since I have a power house PC there was no need for me to get a PS4 other than exclusives. Bloodbourne was the 1st exclusive that perked my interest and after reading about Until Dawn Friday, I purchased one after work.

    During your first play through you definitely have excitement dealing with jump scares and a story that looks like it involves a psycho in a clown mask, ghosts, monsters and some flamethrower psycho. At first this seems like an insane amount of horror tropes shoved into one game, but all the various plots converge by the end and become less complicated.

    The game has the "butterfly effect system" which promises a ripple system that is supposed to hugely alter the story. Every choice is supposed to matter. Sadly like games from Telltale Games and Quantic Dream, this game gives you the "illusion" of choice. Specifically I'm thinking of examples like in the Walking Dead when you save one of two characters, only to have the one you save die a chapter later or in Heavy Rain, when **HEAVY RAIN SPOILER** you think that your character is in danger during a QTE but there are only 2/4 of the main characters you can kill off during the story.

    **SPOILERS**
    As it turns out, this is the same for a lot of the characters in Until Dawn. When playing through the first time, I was in constant fear the psycho clown would kill me, or that Mike would die while making his way through the sanatorium. Since the clown ends up not being an actual psycho and no one dies in that story arc and characters can only die at 1-3 various points of the game it's once again the illusion of choice and being in danger.

    Mike and Sam can't die until the final chapter which when you discover, completely takes away any danger that the characters are in. That being said, if you're not aware of that the game does give you an extreme thrill with the pacing and constantly being scared you're about to get jumped and axed. The buffer fly effect system is interesting but for the most part only small changes occur (like if you shoot the squirrel at the start, a crow will attack Sam and then when fleeing from the clown the blood will attract him to your hiding spot - or one of the bigger ones if you choose to shoot Ash during the lowering saw trap she won't let Chris in when he's running into the house.
    **END SPOILER**

    Having finished the game twice (once with 4 people surviving, and then once with everyone surviving - which is a lot easier to do once you've played through once) I can say this game is well worth at least one play through. People who are saying the voice acting is bad must have not grown up with Resident Evil 1. While the facial animations (especially the teeth and smiles) are sometimes unnatural, the faces look amazing and almost mirror most of the actors playing them.

    I usually have buyers regret with consoles but this was the first time I'm still happy post console purchase. If you have a PS4 get this game. I look forward to seeing future games from them

    Last edited 31/08/15 2:09 pm

    Really enjoyed my first playthrough. Managed to keep 6 of the oafs alive on the first playthrough. Now I am going to try save them all.

    Up to chapter 8 and LOVING this game. I loved Heavy Rain and this game nails the pacing and tension more consistently, I think.

    So roughly how many hours is this for a single play through?

      Think you may have found your break from open world overload after Witcher 3 ;-)

      www.howlongtobeat.com says 7.5h for main story, 8.5h for main story plus extras and 12h for completionists. But I would like to know how everyone else went?

    Has anyone bought the special edition with the extra chapter? If so, what is it like?

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