Until Dawn Was A Very Different Game In 2012

Until Dawn Was A Very Different Game In 2012

Until Dawn has been in development for a very long time. It was originally announced as a PS Move game for the PS3 back in 2012. I’ve been pouring over the old footage, which looks weird (and in one case, kinda creepy!) now.

Sony and Supermassive Games have been trying to make an interactive slasher game work for years, but after Until Dawn was unveiled at Gamescom in 2012, the game disappeared. The company kept issuing statements confirming the project was still alive, but it wasn’t until two years later that Until Dawn finally resurfaced for PS4, and with a clearly reworked approach.

There will be Until Dawn spoilers from here on out!

The 2012 trailer had some familiar beats, with a group of young people stranded on the mountain, hunted by something in the dark. The game did not, however, feature any of the celebrities — like Hayden Papanettiere — that would eventually lend their voice and likeness talents to the 2015 version of Until Dawn.

This trailer largely focuses on Jessica and Mike and their romantic detour to a small cabin in the woods, but it was always supposed to be about eight friends getting into trouble. There are even some scenes lifted practically verbatim.

Here’s the 2012 version:

And here’s the 2015 version, which is slightly more dramatic and terrifying:

It seems like the 2012 version might have had a different villain, too?

Until Dawn Was A Very Different Game In 2012

I don’t remember that guy running around, though maybe it’s an early version of the dude you think is killing everyone, when he’s actually trying to help.

Until Dawn Was A Very Different Game In 2012

The biggest difference between the two versions, however, is the change from first-person to third-person. Back in 2012, Sony was still pretending it cared about making games for the Move, even though it was clear the motion controller trend was not only fading away, but Sony never had its heart in it.

But Until Dawn was really trying to make use of the Move, as evidenced by this gameplay footage captured by BrasilgamerNet during an on-stage demo:

Originally, players were to navigate around the environment and shine a flashlight with the Move. The 2015 version actually keeps some of this motion functionality intact, allowing you to adjust the flashlight’s direction by tilting the controller. (It doesn’t really work, and I turned it off almost immediately.)

You also had the option of switching over to a gun, which would let you bust through certain doors and, presumably, kill certain enemies. In the version that actually shipped, guns were very limited and only part of a handful of choices.

Perhaps the strangest use of the Move comes while Jessica and Mike are getting hot ‘n heavy on the couch, and the player is tasked with taking off her jacket.

I’m not sure what’s weirder: how the presenter pauses for a second to, presumably, brag how “cool” this is or how such a mechanic was vetted but still made it into a stage presentation. Maybe it’s a sign of progress nothing like this is in the final game? I’m trying to rationalize here, people. Help me out.

The gameplay demo ends with a scene familiar to anyone who played the game, with Mike catching up to Jessica and hoping she’s ok.

Compare this to how it plays out (depending on your actions) in the final game:

Lots of games go through dramatic transformations during development, but it’s not often that we’re exposed to them. Not only am I glad Sony stuck by Until Dawn until it figured out what kind of game it needed to be, but it’s fascinating to see those changes. The industry usually buries all of his, hoping people never see the mistakes along the way. Sometimes, the mistakes are pretty interesting.


  • I for one am happy with how it turned out. It would have been a very different (and likely lesser) experience with the Move.

  • When Sony went quiet about this game a few years ago and knowing that it was a move game, I thought it might end up as a Morpheus title.

  • In the horror genre, from a suspense perspective, first person gives a different sense of terror and fear to third person.

    If you are in first person, it should be about what you cannot quite see. A sound alerts you to look left, while the monster sneaks up on the periphery to your right.

    Third person is, in a similar way, not about showing things. Say the camera is in front, facing the protagonist, showing what is behind them. You can’t see as much to the left or right, and again using sound, light and movement, the sense of not knowing exactly what is going on but sensing something can create tension.

    In the old game play demo, the run from the cabin to the mine was just dead boring. You moved forward, and stuff happened. No exploration, no doubts to decisions made, no sense of danger; not knowing if you are too late or if you may trip over something and fall.

    Both perspectives have their uses, and some of the mechanics were still used in the published game. In third person you control the light sometimes, which limits what you see. You can chose where to focus the light, but you still can’t see it all, which creates important tension and fear.

    I’m glad they revised things, if for nothing less than they worked hard to make it terrifying without being cheap all the time. There are “making of” videos that you can unlock as bonus content within the game. One of them shows them testing scenes with normal people, and monitoring their choices, reactions, and how scared they were.

    If people were not reacting as expected, they would revise the scene and change things like camera angles, pacing, order or cues. That level of polish, though it would have been frustrating to implement, really shows in the final game.

    So the starting cabin scene as a whole is roughly intact, but the run towards Jessica is radically changed. That scene alone might have been enough for them to rethink the whole first person thing. In the final game, the walks between the locations are themselves terrifying and claustrophobic. If it was just the player moving on rails from A to B and maybe shooting a gun… good grief. :-X

    That’s not horror. That’s boring walk/run and gun gameplay. :-S

  • Pretty sure the scarecrow guy is supposed to be the “psycho” that they ended up making the clown guy. Considering he’s wearing the same clothes that the “psycho” is wearing. Pretty sure they originally intended for the mask that the psycho wears to be whatever you choose in the psychologist scene (i.e – the clown, scarecrow or zombie) but then decided just to make it a clown/zombie hybrid. Shame.. It would make sense if the psychos internal fear is reflected by the mask he wears.

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