With Halloween lurking just around the corner, it seems like a good time to take a look at take a look at the new survival horror game from Supermassive Games, Until Dawn.
Until Dawn follows the story of 8 friends and their fight to survive a night trapped on a remote mountain. When one of your group goes missing, you and your friends must discover the secrets of the past in order to make it out alive. Playing as each of the 8 characters you must explore your surroundings, find clues and make difficult choices in order to survive the horrors within. In this playable section of the game, we were tasked with exploring a dark basement in search of our lost friend Sam (played by Haden Panetttiere).
Descending into the gloom of the basement it is clear from the start that this game knows a thing or two about creating an atmosphere. From the offset you are left to explore this dank, dark and dripping basement with nothing but a torch and a can do attitude. With suspicious possible paranormal activity looming in the darkness, you have no choice but to probe every corner of this classic horror set in order to find clues to your friends fate and escape. The characters talk throughout, narrating the story in a way that can’t help but add a bucket full of unease to our already shaky nerves.
As would be expected from any self-respecting down right creepy horror game, one of your key survival tools is the torch. The torch is controlled using the motion capabilities of the PS4 controller to tilt and direct the light in order to explore dark corners and find clues that might aid your survival. Guiding the light in this way really gives the impression that you are actually peering around those dark and ominous corners, drawing us further into the environment and making the impending feeling of dread all the more real.
The tilt and touch pad functions of the controller can also be used to examine found objects, making them feel much closer to your hands and somehow more disturbing as a result. In the short section we played we found objects including a suspiciously cheery diary, a very sinister dolls house and of course a shattered dolls head which just happened to be full of bugs. nice.
Until Dawn works on a butterfly cause and effect system, wherein your actions determine later events within the story. This system includes both practical choices, such as where to go, as well as moral choices like the decision to abandon a friend rather than fight for them. This system means that choices you make during the game really do matter, as the survival of any member of your party is not guaranteed. In short, you know that annoying friend you put up with for politeness sake but deep down can’t stand? Well if you can survive long enough this game might just give you the chance to kill her.
In true horror style there are some quite jumpy moments within this game, making it definitely not for the faint hearted. At one such moment involving a locked door and a lurking ghost (possibly?) the player next to me physically dropped his controller and jumped back from the screen a pace or two. The thing is, the way this game is built I totally didn’t blame him. Of course for risk of spoilers I won’t say much about the overall storyline, however from what we witnessed at the expo it had a kind of ‘Saw’ meets ‘I know what you did last summer’ vibe. As with all good horrors, I will let your imagination do the rest.
Until Dawn : Release date TBC for PS4