Until Dawn(M) – PS4 (8hrs-19hrs for all endings)
I remember going over to a friend’s house and watching him play the first true horror game on console – Resident Evil. He handed the controller over to me, turned off the lights and left the room. I was staring at the screen with controller in hand, afraid to move my character because of what might come next. I had never played a game that made me feel so tense, that was so atmospheric. It had gore and jump scares and if you died it was gruesome. I had never seen or played anything like it. This was, for me, the start of the survival horror genre on console. The sequel was even better. It had one of the best jump scares even to this day. It was a longer game with more varied puzzles and better graphics. Still, there would have been no Resident Evil 2 if Resident Evil wasn’t so good.
Back in the PlayStation days, I played whatever survival horror game I could get my hands on, from Silent Hill to the amazing Parasite Eve. There were a ton of great survival titles on Sony’s first console. Once the PS2 and Xbox came, I lost my desire to play any of the survival horror titles on the newer systems. In fact it wasn’t until I got an Xbox 360 that I played any survival horror games.
It was the brilliant Condemned that brought me back to the genre. The enemies were faster and you had to use the environment as a weapon, grabbing pipes and wooden planks wherever you could find them. Then came Dead Space and that was fantastic as well, although I felt pretty powerful, so it wasn’t as scary. Not until recently has a game elicited that same sense of fear that Resident Evil did. The game I am talking about is, of course, Until Dawn I am going to just say it right now, I love this game. I honestly thought I would hate it. I was burned out from the whole survival horror genre and I hate quick time events. This game is full of quick time events. I should hate this game, but alas, I do not.
This game is gorgeous. Creepy, but absolutely amazing visually. From the lighting, to the incredible character models, it was really easy to get lost in this world. I spent way too much time waving around my flashlight in the dark just so I could marvel at the shadows. Emotional response was clear and realistic in the characters. There was no doubt when they were scared, you could see the sweat on their brows. The environments were incredibly atmospheric. You could see footprints in the snow, and the mines and house were suitably eerie. The visual quality showed in every small detail. Everything just looked really good. At times it was actually stunning. So why a 9? The only thing bringing the score down was the animation at times seemed a bit stiff. Understand I am being extremely picky, but sometimes something was a bit off in the way a character shrugged their shoulders or some other small movements. Otherwise a fantastic looking game.
First lets talk about the voice cast. Nothing is a bigger turn off for me then horrible voice acting. When something is suppose to scare or move you, yet the acting falls so flat or is really annoying, it completely ruins the atmosphere. Thankfully, Until Dawn’s voice work is exceptional. I knew Hayden Panettiere was one of the main characters, but I had no idea the quality of the rest of the actors. I don’t want to list the actors in this review, but its worth looking up if you are a fan. We will just say the acting was on par with many Hollywood movies and better then a lot of the horror movies. I actually cared what happened to these characters.
I refuse to give away any of the story, so let’s just say there are a lot of twists and turns. There were a few moments were I just sat there staring at the screen trying to figure out if I just saw what I saw. The story really drew me in. The relationships between the characters and honest reactions to what they where going through kept me wanting to move forward to see what would happen next.
So I mentioned in the beginning of this review, I cannot stand quick time events. I hated them in God of War and every other game that attempted them. If they are not done right they can completely ruin a game for me. Before I get hateful comments, I really liked the God of War series, I just didn’t like the forced QTE’s in the game. Personal preference, I suppose. Here’s what’s weird to me though: I loved the gameplay in Until Dawn even though there were a whole lot of QTE’s. I was so immersed that I didn’t mind. It helped that they seemed more forgiving then many of the QTE’s in other games I played. There were a few times where the timing felt off, thus I’m giving it a 9 instead of a 10. Getting a 9 from me when you game is mostly QTE’s is high praise indeed. Trust me on this one.
I am so glad I got past my reservations for this game and played it. What a phenomenal experience! Well done, Supermassive games. From Little Big Planet DLC to this masterpiece is a huge step forward. I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with next!
Family Friendly Rating 3/10
This game has a lot of blood and some gore. There are many f-bombs and other adult language. There is also some sexual innuendo and a character walking around in only a towel. This is a very tense game. For those who are easily scared or grossed out this game is not for you. The reason it’s not getting a lower score is because there is some heroism as well as characters who really seem to care about each other.
Reviewed by Mediaman