2015 hasn't exactly given gaming fans the heavy dose of horror that they've been craving. So far, the only remotely frightening releases have been Techland's zombie-driven title Dying Light, Capcom's Resident Evil: Revelations 2, and the third installment in the indie creep-fest series known as Five Nights at Freddy's. And although many are excited about the forthcoming remake to Resident Evil 2, it won't be available until some time next year at the very least.
Thankfully, Supermassive Games' adventure survival horror Until Dawn is soon to fill the void of fear-based gaming that we all so desperately desire. Originally a PS Move supported title for the PlayStation 3, Until Dawn has been in development for quite a while, but now the star-studded game is set to put fans in tons of terrifying situations of which they can take part in via responsive choices as seen in a previous trailer.
Players expecting clearly cut courses of action should be forewarned, as each decision they make to move the narrative forward will have an impact on future scenarios inspired by the butterfly effect – that is, a philosophical notion connected with chaos theory in which every choice one makes in life ripples throughout the fabric of reality, ultimately giving way to an unforeseen chain of events.
Essentially, Until Dawn is more of an interactive experience than a fully controllable game, as it utilizes quick-time events, dialogue options, and straightforward puzzles in the vein of Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. Despite the fact that it eschews typically traditional gameplay in favor of a cinematic storytelling approach, critics have given the survival horror generally favorable reviews, as seen below.
Game Rant (Anthony Taormina)
"In truth, the major selling point for Until Dawn will be making choices that keep as many of the eight friends alive as possible. Since this is a horror game, each and every one of the characters is disposable, and one wrong choice can take them from perfectly healthy to headless in an instant. And because Supermassive Games does such a great job at realizing these characters, the deaths feel all the more impactful. Sure, there are some characters that “deserve” a gruesome death, but there’s nothing more shocking, and genuinely heartbreaking, than making a wrong choice and watching a character you liked die. That’s something games rarely deliver."
Game Informer (Jeff Marchiafava)
"The script kept me entertained and feeling like my decisions mattered throughout my 10-hour playthrough. Thanks to some good twists, a few fake-outs, and limitless jump scares, Until Dawn would make a solid horror film. As a piece of interactive fiction, however, it's a remarkable experience that horror fans shouldn't miss."
VideoGamer (Tom Orry)
"In terms of gameplay mechanics it's incredibly simple, but that works in the its favour, leaving you to become fully engrossed in the thrilling and malleable storyline. If you fancy a gory treat that hits plenty of high notes, Until Dawn is highly recommended."
GameSpot (Alexa Ray Corriea)
"I didn't expect to have so much fun with Until Dawn, and the depth with which my choices mattered and affected the final outcome encouraged repeat playthroughs. The visuals can be wonky at times, but in the end Until Dawn succeeds in being a thoughtful use of familiar mechanics, a great achievement in player-driven narrative, and a horror game you shouldn't miss."
IGN (Lucy O'Brien)
"Until Dawn is a flawed, but fun experience. Though an unfocused story means it falls short of greatness, it’s an otherwise entertaining homage to the curious traditions of horror movies which pays off your in-game decisions with occasionally shocking consequences."
God is a Geek (Adam Cook)
"If you like Quantic Dream's games and think the idea of that style mixed with an 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' or 'Scary Movie' style narrative would be good, you're probably going to really dig it."
EGM (Mollie L. Patterson)
"Until Dawn doesn’t always live up to the potential Supermassive Games envisioned for its ambitious PS4 project, but the game succeeds in enough ways to make it a fascinating and engrossing twist on the horror genre."
Destructoid (Chris Carter)
"Until Dawn knows exactly what it is, and it doesn't pretend to be anything more. In that process it allows for some predictable plotlines, hammy acting, and lack of meaningful choices, but I'm glad that it exists, and every horror fan owes it to themselves to play it at some point -- especially at a price cut."
Based on these reviews of Until Dawn it sounds as if Supermassive Games knows how to deliver the goods when it comes to telling a solid story and crafting a unique horror title. With that said, developers looking to focus primarily on an interactive gameplay style would do well to keep Until Dawn in mind.
Until Dawn is set to release tomorrow, August 25, 2015, exclusively for the PlayStation 4.