We’re reeling off the games that have had the biggest impact on us over the last years for our Games of Generation series. Next up: it’s time to flip the script with an early PS4 exclusive.
Seeing as we’re running down the very best of the last generation of gaming, I thought it’d be a massive discredit if Supermassive Games’ Until Dawn wasn’t given the props it deserves. It’s an extremely cheesy yet ultimately satisfying horror experience that takes the best aspects of Telltale’s games and actually does something creative with them.
Until Dawn boasts an innovative twist on the Butterfly Effect mechanic, where one very minor choice can impact the rest of the game. Of course, we all know that most video games that follow the same spiel often appear less linear than they are, yet I genuinely enjoyed the novelty of having Peter Stormare berate me for making poor choices, potentially leading my hapless teens to their gruesome demise. Sorry, dad.
Your story follows the timeless slasher-movie structure; eight equally irritable dudebros and prom queens travel to a remote holiday destination. Alcohol is consumed, intercourse is had and horrific shenanigans ensue. In this case, they are stalked by a creepy, masked maniac and a slew of supernatural beasts. One by one, the cast of corny characters are tested and picked off by their oppressors, and the snow-covered Blackwood Mountain soon loses out on a 5* TripAdivsor review.
For someone who dearly loves acclaimed horror franchises like Halloween and Friday the 13th, it was a real treat to be thrown into the mix of some of the most iconic tropes of the genre. The characters were both endearing and perfect fodder for the Blackwood killer. The voice-acting and motion capture teams did a fantastic job in giving each character their own individual personalities, making them more than just generic archetypes and more of the sort of characters you consider reloading a save to prevent their deaths.
Until Dawn is a rare case of traditional horror done well, with sinister aesthetics and a vintage soundtrack to help support the characters in producing a spooky vibe.
But of course the main meat of the game is in its choices. Like I previously mentioned, the game does suffer from a severe case of the linear storyline, where the predominant characters will always make it to their required destinations to help progress the story. There are plenty of opportunities for each teenager to meet their gruesome ends, but on several occasions the game kind of takes over in ensuring that you don’t spoil things too quickly.
Aside from a few minor tweaks in the environment or presentation of certain characters, the choices you make inside and outside of Stormare’s ghoulish therapy sessions fail to direct the story too drastically. However, there’s enough replayability in the numerous endings available, based entirely on who manages to survive the night and their resulting mental state. Trophy hunters will be pleased too, an easy 100% for those willing to hunt down the plethora of collectables scattered across the game’s many paths.
Nevertheless, that first-time playthrough is almost a perfect ode to the slasher genre; a quintessential experience for all gamers looking for a cheeky scare and the chance to see Rami Malek before he was cool.
Until Dawn was given ample respect from a range of critics, being nominated for several achievements including: Best Narrative, Best Performance and PlayStation Game of the Year from Golden Joystick Awards. As far as horror games are concerned, they barely get a look in when it comes to critical acclaim such as this, so take that as a pretty big statement in of itself.
Until Dawn was such a hit for Supermassive Games that they doubled down on horror, producing an Until Dawn VR spin-off, a prequel in The Inpatient and the recently released Dark Pictures Anthology, which includes both Man of Medan and Little Hope. A testament to the success story that was Until Dawn.
Whether you’re looking for some Halloween material or an intriguing 8-10 hours worth of critical thinking and character exposition, then do yourself a favour and track down a copy. Until Dawn ranks up there with the likes of Resident Evil 7, Alien: Isolation and the Outlast saga, becoming a surprising little gem among the hordes of fantastic horror games during the peak of this generation.
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