Until Dawn Review: Good or Bad Game?

until dawn, horror games
Who survives? You decide.

The story for Until Dawn is as follows: eight friends reunite at a creepy lodge on a mountain where two of their other friends disappeared last year. You know, where most friendly meetups take place. Unsurprisingly, everything goes downhill from there.

Until Dawn launch trailer

After they split up, things become chaotic between a psychotic killer and a host of monsters set on ripping everyone apart.

Just one of many bad events that awaits the cast.

It’s up to the player what happens to the cast of characters that night and who will live until dawn.

The story offers a lot of intrigue that keeps you guessing. There are multiple mysteries to be solved, from the disappearance of your friends to the true history of the mountain.

Classic areas like a haunted lodge, creepy mines, and, of course, an insane asylum, set the stage for the multi-faceted narrative.

Until Dawn’s story is very aware of the fact that it’s paying homage to B-list horror movies. You will experience every trick in the book. And if you like cheesy horror movies, hey, who’s complaining?

The game attempts to have some twists at you storywise with events you may not see coming if you don’t pay attention to subtle clues. What may initially seem like collectibles in the form of totems and tchotchkes actually end up giving a lot of context to the story in the long run.

The game’s cinematics blend with the gameplay as there are quicktime events during most of them. There is little to distinguish them from exploration aside from the fact that you can’t move your character’s footsteps manually. The game gives you the illusion of sitting back for a second before putting you back in the action by demanding quick reaction time.

One second your character jogs along without a care in the world--well, beyond the monster who’s got their girlfriend--and the next second you’ve got to hit the square button without thinking. Otherwise your character will be sent flying as they trip over something and in some areas even die due to a slipup.

Depending on your opinion of that particular character, that might not be an entirely bad thing.

This style of gameplay is introduced gradually, though, and you won’t be pressured to think quickly on your feet until after the beginning of the game where you learn how to play while there are no real threats. The transfer from cinematics to gameplay is seamless after that relative slowness.

The adventure offered from Until Dawn has you set to one story with little deviation from the main plot save for changes due to choices you make that trigger the game’s “butterfly effect.” Replays will reveal different outcomes to the adventure depending on minute choices.

One of the menus for the butterfly effect.

The world map of Blackwood Mountain is fairly large with, as mentioned before, various environments to explore. That said, for the most part you will be put on a set track for where to go. The graphics of your surroundings are clear and detailed, adding to the immersiveness and creep factor.

Combat is delivered mostly in the form of quicktime events. You will aim and then attacking with guns, baseball bats, etc that you’ll find along the way. There is little deviation in how to execute different actions, giving you an opportunity to learn to attack quickly.

The sound design in Until Dawn is great, setting the mood right from the beginning with its opening theme, “O Death,” a reimagining of a classic American folk song.

The actors are all experienced in their acting and line delivery, making everything that they say seem genuine. Equally genuine are the sounds of combat and death in the game, making you truly believe in what is happening even during especially over-the-top scenes.

I don’t know about you, but without the convincing acting I might have a little bit of a difficult time taking this scene seriously.

There is only one large noticeable sound-related hiccup. At one point in the game, if you’ve saved everyone you can thus far, there will be a room that does not have any of the dead characters in it save for one.

Nevertheless, your current POV characters will declare “Bodies!” as if there are multiple corpses. This was deep into the game and broke my suspension of disbelief pretty badly.

Most of the characters in the game are playable. There are minor exceptions such as the psychologist Doctor Hill that makes appearances in between main gameplay segments. There are also the monstrous Wendigos that are out for blood during the main game.

Unnerving sequences in the form of probing questions or all-out gore come from each of them, respectively, and play to different types of fears.

There is also a character known only as “the stranger” who stays in the shadows as a mysterious NPC for much of the story. I was suspicious of him thanks to his massive flamethrower, but there’s more to him than meets the eye.

The environments in Until Dawn are generally very grim and gritty. It’s not to the point of not being able to see what’s going on as is the problem with some horror games (I’m looking at you, Amnesia). Some of the environments include falling snow which can be really pretty when you’re not scared half to death.

See? Pretty! What a nice, scenic location to be plagued by horror game elements.

The motion capture for the most part comes off as lifelike. There is a moment here and there where the character models look a bit plasticky and uncanny in the wrong light, but that’s motion capture for you. Technology still has a ways to go on that front.

The game retails for 19-20 dollars. It’s not a bad price for a cinematic experience 8-9 1/2 hours long with a lot of replay value.

Until Dawn deserves a solid 7/10. While not a perfect game, it provides a memorable horror-movie-inspired experience that encourages replaying and discovering all of the secrets that it has to offer.

You may also be interested in:

Until Dawn Cast: Meet The Real Life Actors of Each Until Dawn Character

Until Dawn PC: Is It Actually Possible To Play Until Dawn on PC?

Until Dawn: A Horror Game That Needs to be on PC

Verdict: 
7/10
Veronica is an English major using her powers of analysis for evil; always taking on video games, movies, and video game movies.
Gamer Since: 2002
Favorite Genre: RPG
Top 3 Favorite Games:Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc:, Portal 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

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James Lightning 2 years 2 weeks ago

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James Lightning's picture

James Lightning 2 years 2 weeks ago

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