Interactive movies is a genre of the games that got obsolete within a single generation of consoles. Poor video quality is negligible but frequent poor acting and bad montage are the main culprit of this genre getting such a bad fame. Filling a whole CD was a priority and it couldn’t be done back then with 2D sprites or simple 3D graphics. After many years, Heavy Rain came out bringing us something similar to show that there is potential in this kind of games. Decisions had a huge impact on a story development and quick time events… well, the Heavy Rain has an unnecessary barrage of them, made for filling the holes in gameplay.
Until Dawn is a PS4 exclusive I enjoyed much more than I expected. Deciding a fate of the characters is engaging and creating your own version of the story is the main reason to play this game. Your decisions and reaction in quick time events can make a difference between life and death of some characters. Beside quick time events I have to highlight the use of the Dual Shock 4 here. Until Dawn uses all it’s features. Some sections require you to hold gamepad still and trust me, this thing is sensitive. I like the idea.
The story is about group of eight teenagers having a meeting in a house placed in the mountains. It takes place a year after tragic events involving two sisters. They don’t know that there is a psycho waiting for an opportunity to kill them. A standard horror movie’s story, but as the game goes on you’ll see that there is more to unveil. A half of the story is told by an environment, so make sure you’ll look everywhere for clues in order to know more. Need more motivation? The knowledge the characters will obtain through findings will also influence their behavior and decide their fate. Everything creates a gripping story that makes you keep playing the minimalistic gameplay. What bugs me in Until Dawn, is that so promoted butterfly effect is way too simple to call it that way. Sometimes a single decision can decide about life and death without any series of small events leading to this. The butterfly effects are listed in a special menu. Some of them are interesting and long, while others are too simple or have little to none impact. Maybe a second walkthrough would change my point of view but during the first one it felt too binary in some cases.
Graphicaly it is one of the most impressive games on the PS4. The graphics are outstanding and characters are made with a lot of details, especially faces. The game loses frames sometimes and what’s more strange it happens mainly during retrospections, where primarily there was no fps drops. I have to point out a cheesy use of jump scares. I am the one who has nothing against a good use of jump scares, but I have to warn you that Until Dawn has a lot of them. There’s even one pointless jump scare, that only you can see and the person “witnessing” it didn’t even react to it.
I think every PS4 owner should play Until Dawn. The formula of the infamous interactive movies revitalized in the modern generation is working out surprisingly well. Except you know… there are no actors, but a fully rendered graphics. The story is intriguing, the characters present a variety of behaviors, making them either likable or annoying (some of their actions are dumb). The effects of your decisions can be surprising and you never know which is more important than the other. I can’t believe I’ll say it but there should be more such games. Definitely something new on the border between adventure game and interactive movie, what makes a way to tell a story with different outcomes. I’d say Until Dawn is accessible for everybody but quick time events can be brutal sometimes, because there is no “try again” and some are pretty fast. Nevertheless this formula has the potential to hit wider, casual audience. I wonder if choosing motion controls over traditional would help a casual gamer.