1 Hour to New Pants - Until Dawn Review

Butterfly effect: "the phenomenon whereby a small change at one place in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere, e.g., a butterfly flapping its wings in Rio de Janeiro might change the weather in Chicago." The relevance of the butterfly effect is greatly entwined in Until Dawn because every decision or action can directly affect the next decision and ultimately the outcome of your story. When I use the word "your" I truly mean "your", given that many decisions that must be made during your play through, you ultimately craft your own experience.

I have personally not played this genre of game before. The trusted companions I have here at AGE insist it is very much in the same vain as well known and received titles such as Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. With this in mind I have entrusted Until Dawn to shed some light on this somewhat niche genre. Oh boy was I in for the ride of my life. From the very first moment you are thrown into this emotional roller coaster of visual wonder, and the story telling ability of a blockbuster film. Instantly we are drawn into a very personal and distasteful prank being played on a young lady by her peers. Intertwined among this attention grabbing opening sequence and initial exposure to the game's capabilities to inject fear, we are seemingly handed control of an articulated tutorial. 

Until Dawn's narrative is woven between an immaculately written story and the very clean and often unnoticeable transition between cut scene and actual game play. In saying that the graphics are beautiful in the cut scenes, only adds to the conviction I have in my high opinion of the game play graphics. I would go as far as comparing it to The Last of Us Remastered, giving true definition to what is a current gen visual experience. If I was to mention fixed camera angles it would usually be followed up by some form of negative "old school" opinion on my behalf but the somewhat fixed camera angles of Until Dawn only assist its overall feel. 

A majority of the time while playing this game is spent in a phase of intense tension building, only to be released in an almighty "Holy Shit!" moment. In order to maintain the genuine fear this game produces, it uses random jump scare moments to keep you on your toes, maintaining its lack of predictability. I spent a great deal of time in a zone of tense anxiety but the games quality easily outweighed any uncomfortable emotions that arose.

Each chapter is in a 1 hour interval but taking you on the path of multiple characters. Each episode can last between 45 minutes and 2 hours giving Until Dawn an approximate play through time of 25 hours. At the end of each chapter we are greeted with a psychiatrist feeling character that asks questions and probes into your inner person. It is at this stage I feel like the game is analysing me and all the decisions I make.  This is the crossroads I come to a lot of the time when poised with a decision. Do I go with my feelings or do I adhere to the character's attributes?

With much of the game play being at a slower pace of exploration and narrative, I was often thrusted into a fasted paced style of mini game. These were quite notably always present where danger lurked and an incorrect input could lead to death. Without any reloading checkpoint option, death was final and the story forever changed. This is a good driving factor to always be on point and on edge. Until Dawn dabbles in subjects such as mental illness, religious beliefs and the supernatural, 3 of the most misunderstood and terrifying subjects in life. 

With so many possible outcomes available it goes without saying 2 people may never go through this game and make the exact same choice at the exact same junction every time, giving each individual player a unique experience. Also this helps with replay-ability and a chance to go back and see what could have been. This reminds me of the 'choose your own adventure' books I used to read as a teen, just without the murder, mayhem and anarchy that Until Dawn delivers. Due to the duo of very good writing and acting this would be a pleasurable game to play multiple times and not have the notion of boredom creep in, this is quite unheard of in gaming today, especially games with such a hard hitting narrative.

Never has a game filled me with so many contradicting emotions and ever had me quite so intrigued before. It is very hard to put my finger on a single aspect of my experience with this game and rate it higher than another. To this point of 2015 Until Dawn is my game of the year. Given it is a PS4 exclusive might mean that the player pool is slightly lower than a game released on all platforms but finally there is a game out there that is different enough that could potentially have the draw to sell consoles. I am so very thankful to have been able to experience Until Dawn and I am quite confident in recommending it to people, particularly of my generation.

It has been my aim to be as vague as possible in relation to the plot and sub plots that take place in this game as to my want to not at the very least tarnish any of your potential experiences with spoilers. In saying that I would very much encourage a personal conversation about this with anyone who wants to know more or has already experienced this game. I can be found across at our Facebook page and I am always up for a good chat about games and my experiences. I hope you have enjoyed reading this and it is somewhat helpful in helping making a decision towards playing this or not.


Cheers Red
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