Danny Stueber reviews ‘Until Dawn’ (PS4)

Danny Stueber, Staff Writer

Until Dawn was originally announced back in 2012 as a motion based horror game for the PlayStation 3. Fast forward three years, remove the motion controls as the main way to play, and put it on the PS4 and you have what I consider to be one of the best horror games in a very long time. I would even go as far as to call it a game changer in the “choose your own adventure” type game play; companies like Telltale (the makers of the Walking Dead games and Currently Game of Thrones game) have been doing for years.

Presentation

The game has you playing as one of many teens that are going to party and spend time together one year after two of their friends went missing in the same location. The weekend is about to be filled with drinking, sex, and an overall good time with each other.

Weird things start happening however and before they know it a psychotic killer that has escaped his mental institution seems to be out to get them. Now, does this set up sound cheesy and over done to you? Does it sound like some old 80s movie that you have heard of? That is the entire point of Until Dawn.

It pays homage to slasher flicks from the 80’s and 90’s while also putting its own twist on it. At times it can be campy but that is what it is trying to do.

By the midway point of the game, however, it becomes its own entity and does a great job of that as well. I would normally go more into the story but since this entire game is based one event, all I will say is if you enjoy the movies from the past like Friday the 13th or Scream then this game is for you.

Playing the game late at night with headphones on and no lights gave me a few instances of checking behind me for something. The atmosphere and the tone the game really raise the tension as you play through it.

There were a few cheap jump scares but way more genuine times where I almost threw my controller. It remains scary all the way to the end of the 12-hour campaign and is a wild ride all the way.

Gameplay

Until Dawn is a very linear game; the goal really is to go from point A to point B while learning about the story and characters. The big thing about the game is that you make the choices.

If you heard a weird sound do you go check it out or do you stay with the group? If your girl friend is in trouble do you risk the short cut to get to her or stay on the safe path? Do you shoot at the shadow in the distance or not? This adds a lot of replay value so that once you finish the game you can go back and play through again to see how much the story changes.

Unlike other choice based games, this one has it that if you don’t choose correctly in the context or if you mess something up, even something from hours ago, it can come back to bite you later. This means all of the characters can die or all can live depending on how well you play.

It is possible to finish the game with no one surviving and that adds tension every time you play. One bummer I will say though is that I experimented and did an entire play through where I didn’t press any prompts. It would punish me every so often – one time a girl died – but otherwise nothing bad would happen and I would end up laughing at how my character would be falling all over the place. This can occur in other games like this but because of the big budget that went into this game I was hoping for this not to be the case.

Conclusion

It has a few rough spots and can be cheap near the end (a lot of precise things in the last hour that if you mess up, your teens die right away) but it does what it sets out to do very well. The tone and mood is perfect, the scares really get to you, the characters are all different and play their stereotype to the tee, etc.

If you are looking for a fun scary time where you will not have to spend hundreds of hours to have fun then this is for you. If you don’t like horror or old slasher type movies then it’s best to stay away. It has its faults but it is one of my favorite games of the year and a real reason to own a PS4.

Rating: 9/10 

StUeBs13 = Xbox Gamer tag

StUeBs_13 = PlayStation ID

Edited by Brea Childs and Jenna Turner

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