Guess how long you'll be playing this game? Until Dawn is an epic interactive survival "horror" game. "Horror" meaning it flops majorly in its target genre. But, it makes up for that with excellent writing and characters. Eight characters rejoin on a mountain lodge on the anniversary of a tragic event that occurred one year ago. Unbeknownst to our characters are new tragedies of their own that could mean life or death. Said characters have the usual cliché personas of the horror genre. However, the usual personas of the well known horror genre are thrown in the ring to mix with unique situations and traits for each character that breathe new life into them. These now unique characters either have you go through hell itself in heart-pounding moments to protect them, or act like a god trying every action possible to get them killed.
Being a PS4 exclusive, Until Dawn utilizes the Dualshock 4's capabilities to its fullest extent. For example, it uses its touchpad and motion controls to make it feel more interactive. While the controls are relatively simple, they get the job done in engrossing the player and in accompanying the strong emotion and tone of the game. Though, I would say the motion controls are a bit too engrossing. While the game may have a tutorial for all the mechanics it introduces, the motion control sessions are spontaneous occurrences, leaving little room to actually remain still with the remote. This unbalance leaves me baffled because quick time events even give newcomers to gaming enough time to react fast enough.
Controls aren't always literal. Remember a certain movie called the "Butterfly Effect?" Well, its concept of every decision, whether it be big or small, having a pivotal outcome, is the main mechanic for how Until Dawn functions. Until Dawn features multiple branching paths of dialogue, actions, and of course, endings. Every one of these components will lead to other outcomes that could mean the end or bright future for your character. Also, this unique mechanic influences personalities of characters and relationships with them that also influence the plot, but to a slightly lesser degree.
Exploration is also important to your discovery of the situation. Along with the other mechanics is simply moving around (shocking right)? Well, unlike most horror games, Until Dawn provides a twisty-turny, heart-poundingly emotional story while also providing a more in depth plot for those willing to explore and discover the cryptic meaning and future of the game. Exploration will heed findings of clues to multiple mysteries of the game, and totems that will provide foresight into future possible outcomes. Totems may help the player decide what to prepare for in the future if they connect the dots correctly as well as provide insight onto the events of the past and how/why they happened.
Until Dawn has spectacle as well as substance. Using capture technology for accurate representations of facial expressions and actions was pure genius, despite the common odd and sometimes stiff motions. Additionally, the soundtrack is very satisfactory since it increases the tension and horror like it should.
Until Dawn crafts an excellent story. It takes what would seem like boring plot aspects at first and molds them into an excellent story. It gives you a unique gameplay experience with various fresh and dare I say again unique controls. I certainly felt like I got a bang for my buck. Unlike games like Telltale that barely focus on decisions and feel like shameless cash-grabs and force you to get involved into an episodic series whereas Until Dawn does all of this in one game. This is the first I'm saying this for a game, but Until Dawn is definitely a game of the year.