Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review - Until Dawn | Till Morning Comes

Never have I cringed so badly at horror movie cliches’. Believe me, I cringed plenty of times in Until Dawn by Supermassive Games. Hopeless teenagers? Check. Cabin in the woods? Check. Token jock stereotype? Check. Annoying female character by the name of “Emily”? Check. The list goes on. Now.. I’m not saying that this game is utter bollocks; because it isn’t. It’s surprisingly entertaining and a whole lot more.

From Dusk till Dawn
Until Dawn follows a group of teenagers trapped on a remote mountain getaway. Predictable as it is, their winter retreat turns awfully wrong as the night went on. While in the beginning, there are plenty to poke regarding the game’s setting and story. Those familiar with the horror genre will undeniably roll their eyes at every cliche’ tossed in their face, but this is when it gets better. Things unexpectedly turn out for the best later on that makes Until Dawn stands out from the rest. I won’t spoil much details on the story, but instead I’ll give the developers and writers a lot of credit for this.

Save the.. Cheerleader?
The cast of Until Dawn is definitely a mixed bag. The good sorts. Using real actors to portray the characters in both motion capture and voice acting, the cast wonderfully brought their characters to life in the game. One of which is Hayden Panettiere - previously known for her role as the indestructible cheerleader, Claire, from “Heroes” - made her video game debut as one of the eight playable main protagonists. You know the actors and writers are doing a damn fine job when you’re actually rooting for a character or even wishing certain death upon them. Oh yes.. for the latter, I’m talking about you, Emily.

Action and reaction
While we’re on the subject of wishing for one’s demise, Until Dawn can be compared to good ol’ choose-your-adventure style games, where your actions and decisions made while playing will be reflected in the game’s story. If you’re a perfectionist like me, you’ll opt for having all of the characters (yes.. including Emily, sadly..) survive in the end. Else, you might have some of them killed or even have no survivors at all. Character interactions and relationships are affected as well through this, which really does encourage a lot of experimenting and promotes high replayability. The game is said to have around a hundred possible endings, thus making each playthrough somewhat unique.

Interactive Fright Night
It’s hard not to bring up games such as Heavy Rain or Beyond: Two Souls during my time with Until Dawn. The major similarities being their heavy emphasis on Quick Time Event gameplay presented in a cinematic experience. I’m glad to say that this game utilised this gimmick pretty well with some cunning additions of its own. Being totally horror oriented, you could imagine the intense situations you’ll be put through.
The game is played with either the Dual Shock 4’s thumbsticks or solely on its motion controls. This applies to aiming a flashlight at dark areas or even a weapon while attacking. Personally, I prefer the motion controls to complete the experience. Another notable gameplay element are horrifying moments when you’re required to keep the controller still. Well, you know what’ll happen if you accidentally moved an inch. Genius, I tell you.

More than meets the eye
There are plenty of secrets, clues and collectibles to be found in Until Dawn. Some clues will piece together mysteries that even adds over the game’s story, thus adding more depth to it. One of these collectibles are Totems, which will give players vague hints of future events. This includes the various ways of how certain characters may die, so use these as warnings and guidance for the dangers that may come. Another nifty content addition are the making-of videos which are unlocked as you progress through the game.

Love letter to horror
Like a Friday night horror movie, Until Dawn has enough tricks up its sleeve to jump scare the hell out of you with well scripted events. The game’s brilliance is also visible in its remarkable nods to various troupes of the horror genre. Again, I won’t spoil the best parts. I seriously recommend gamers to pick this game up and experience it themselves. Plus, it makes a great party game when played with friends and I’m pretty sure they’ll agree to kill Emily off too.

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