During this festive time of the year, the game I’ve reviewed is called Until Dawn!
Because I and some family members became interested in this game, we decided to play it together during the winter holidays. I was the only one who hadn’t seen anything about it, apart from the butterfly effect mechanic.
This game is classified as horror, but horror is the least of its strengths.
It’s somehow related to games such as BEYOND: Two Souls or Heavy Rain, both PlayStation Exclusives, if you look at the mechanics and visuals of all three.
You’ll be picking clues and items while walking freely through some calm moments, while taking some decisions that, in moments of stress, become too important or decisive, giving you a short period to choose your desirable action.
The visuals have the quality desired for such scenario. You won’t feel warm in interiors, but the walks on the outside will do a pretty good job setting a harsh and cold atmosphere, where danger lurks hidden from your sight.
Without spoiling the narrative, even though it’s quite predictable, since it’s based on an extremely used movie setting, 8 friends go to an isolated cabin in the woods, on a mountain. The cabin has a tragic story from the past, involving all of them, which sets a tense mood in all of them. Some grudges and affections are already established, between them, but you, as the player, will have the power to tip the balance during your gameplay.
You’ll be playing as one of them, alternately, thinking and taking decisions for him/ her, during chapters that change after an event or a switch of scenario.
Until Dawn spreads clues for the adventure that lies ahead, and the secrets of the past, so you can better understand the story that surrounds the characters on such a life-changing day.
The game sells you the idea that your decisions will take effect on later events very heavily, I mean, even before you get to play the game they explain the mechanic through a cutscene that uses the butterfly wings as paths to show the butterfly effect in action. Then, you hear about it through the words of the Analyst, a character with whom we interact outside of the main setting, mostly at the beginning of every new chapter.
Of course, there’s the excuse that local tribes believed on prophecies delivered by colored butterflies, so you get to experience the foresight mechanic through totems. And finally, a main characters refers it during the tutorial chapter.
There are 5 types of colored totems spread all around the mountain (and, somehow, no one seems to strange their purpose, their consistent appearance, their possible value, …) which can give you visions of Fortune, Danger, Loss, Guidance and Death of possible future events.
It’s an interesting mechanic, but for me it’s completely undesirable for such a game as Until Dawn.
It’s a mechanic that would be welcomed in Life is Strange, since this one gives you the ability to go back in time to change your decisions.
The visions are far from accurate for someone who didn’t played the game, giving the sensation of disappointment and doubt when the predicted future happens without your understanding of your abilities to avoid it, and it’s the same for the opposite, if the predicted future didn’t happen and it was the desired path to follow. Of course, this situation only stumbles for the future Loss, Danger and Death visions.
For me, the greatest strength of the game is that the whole setting is a play where you can toy with the characters feelings, actions and thoughts, disrupting friendships or establishing bonds between them, and decide how will they end up in the final outcome of this interesting and compelling experience.
The music, as well as the main theme, fit in the teenagers adventure. The sound effects help to create the predisposition to be safe or afraid, when needed. Unfortunately, there where key moments when the music and sound effects came up earlier, raising my awareness and ruining the suspense.
While switching the controller between 3 people in a dark room, with the so much needed breaks for replenishing of chocolates and drinks, the game took around 7 hours to reach the final credits. Of course, very few achievements were unlocked since the developers encourage us to play again, to choose different decisions and to propose a different future for one or all the teenagers.
I liked it! A nice narrative, acceptable dialogues, enjoyable game mechanics, besides the totems, and a rewarding ending. It sure wasn’t the best horror game ever, even if I confess I got scared and jumped more than a couple of times, but, at the end of the game, Until Dawn was a great experience and I’m waiting to know what are the developers planning for their next game.
Until Dawn is available for PlayStation 4.