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Review Until Dawn (PS4) Satisfying horror experience!

genre: adventure, horror
year: 2015

To be honest I was a bit skeptical about Until Dawn. There aren't that many interactive adventures out there that actually have managed to do what this does. And that is to recreate genuine thrills and scares you would experience when watching a film. 

Now some of you still might think that it wouldn't be that hard to mimic horror films through cut scenes and it's narrative. But Until Dawn goes beyond that. Since the actual story is filled with cliches and predictability. What it stands out in is to give the player the sense he or she is part of the adventure. And when something or someone pops out of nowhere you will jump up. Like with comedy timing is everything. That and build up of suspense and tension. Until Dawn does a real good job of that. Not surprising since experienced horror filmmakers have been involved with this game.

Even while I am pleasantly surprised I am not as impressed as Ultimategamer 132 was. Read his review to what he thinks. He even goes so far to call it game of a year material. There is not a single year where present, past or future where that would be the case. Look, Until Dawn definitely gives you the illusion of having control. However you can't really opt out not to participate. Other than to stay put. Certainly there are times when you are given choices. But if then you opt out to make a choice the game will decide for you. At times that depends on the actions you opted for previously or it just plays out like the game needs you to play out. It's this aspect that is a problem for me. Sure I like choices. But as a gamer I want more. I want full control. In Until Dawn I can only explore where the game allows me to explore. Just heading in some direction it will trigger a cut scene and usually that means I can't go back. I would have liked an indication where it's stated that if I head into that direction there is no point of return. Granted this would break the immersion so perhaps the option to replay this specific sequence would be a far better option than to be forced to replay the whole damn chapter.

Then there are the QTE's, Quick Time Events. I don't like them. Fortunately most games give you the option to start over when you failed. In Until Dawn the game continues. There is a way to restart these by pressing the home button and close the game. But then you have to start from the point the game has saved last. Until Dawn doesn't allow you to manually save. The excuse is that you have to play out the game and then you will be given the choice to replay the chapters to make other choices. The oldest adventure games like King's Quest and Monkey Island even gave you the option to do this and they were immersive as hell. Besides you could technically finish those games in a few hours. Until Dawn easily will take days. That is time I don't have. So why can't Until Dawn give me the choice to replay a section at the time I want to replay it? Basically Until Dawn forces you to replay it many times until you have played out all the available paths and endings. Getting back to the mechanics. The QTE's in this game are horrendous. Often you are not given enough time to respond. And it's not that I am slow in reacting. It's more that once a sequence starts it takes a while for you to actually have to do something. You lose focus. I wouldn't if I had full control. 

Overall Until Dawn is a satisfying horror experience. Is Until Dawn a game? Well, yes! But barely. I need to be able to make my own choices. And Until Dawn doesn't allow you to. In the heydays of adventure gaming you had quite a few titles that would play out like a film and still gave you full control of your actions. Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within is a good example of this. So there still is a lot of room for improvement. Let's hope Man of Medan steps up!

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