“Until Dawn” is a recently released single-player survival horror game developed by Supermassive Games for the PlayStation 4. It is the story of eight friends trapped in a remote mountain lodge a year after the disappearance and deaths of the two sisters of Josh Washington, one of the eight characters. During their stay, events occur that make the characters fear for their lives. The game uses a recently popularized style of a choice-and-consequence storyline, “Until Dawn” specifically utilizing the Butterfly Effect, forcing the player to make quick and potentially dangerous decisions. Each path could either protect or endanger each character, and it is up to the player to decide how the game progresses and what ending they receive. Although Supermassive is known for not living up to their potential in game development, “Until Dawn” succeeds in making players completely engrossed and fascinated with the game.
“Until Dawn” is a wonderful example of the newest types of digital character and scene design. Characters look realistic, with varying facial expressions, emotions, and quirks. Each is different in many ways. Not only is each model created to have his or her own strengths and weaknesses, as seen in the in-game “Character Info” tab, which changes based on the character the player is currently controlling, they are also modeled after the actors who play them.
The script flows as naturally as one can artificially produce, adding an occasional joke or slang to lighten the dark mood that persists in the story. The delivery of the lines is fitting and allows the player to connect to the characters’ emotions. With each decision, the scripting and scenes put the player in the place of their character and make their choices deathly important. Although some situations and reactions are predictable, the suspenseful writing and direction make this game worth a few playthroughs.
If you’re not a fan of gore, however, “Until Dawn” is one to stay away from. Many decisions will lead to scenes unfit for younger audiences or those who are squeamish. Supermassive is highly successful in making the game suspenseful and following through with the imminent threat of consequence. Jump scares occur almost as often as the word “dude,” and keep players on their toes in the face of unknown dangers. Because the game has many elements of a classic horror movie, the best way to play is with the lights off and a protective blanket nearby.
After hours of gameplay, “Until Dawn” can have different endings depending on who is alive and what the player did. The lore and suspense woven in between quick-time events and discovering clues all come to an end when the eight characters (or fewer) try to escape from their frozen prison high in the mountains. Whether the group escapes and survives or not is entirely in the hands of the player, be they merciful or revenge-thirsty by the tale’s end.
This game is rated M for mature.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.