I’ve been waiting to play this game since it came out way back in 2015. I was one of the ones that paid for this game during the holiday time of that year and didn’t get it for free this year when it was free for PS+. That just goes to show you how huge my backlog is. Anyway, I’m not here to complain about my backlog but to finally review a game that I’ve been waiting over two years to play. So, on with the review.
Until Dawn tells the story of 8 high school / college aged friends who are returning to their rich friend, Josh’s lodge, a year after his two sisters went missing at the very same lodge. Each of the 8 characters that you play will have some sort of impact on why Josh’s two sisters went missing and it basically sets up most of the events for the actual meat of the game. Throughout the course of the game, which plays like one of those super cheesy horror movies that are geared towards teenagers, all 8 friends will be terrorized by a psychopath as well as a mysterious Native American folklore creature called a wendigo. As you get the chance to play all eight of the characters involved in the game, you’ll make decisions as each causing either the death of one character or the character that you’re actually playing. Do you have what it takes to keep all 8 characters alive Until Dawn?
Not really being a fan of horror games, this game seemed different and at the time kind of reminded me of the movie Cabin in the Woods, which is why I picked it up. It’s funny actually because while I love horror movies, I really can’t stand horror games. It’s a weird combination, I know, but moving on I thought the game had an interesting concept. While half of the group is being threatened by a psychopath the other half is being threatened by the wendigo’s. At some point, if they all live, they’ll all be threatened by both the psychopath and the wendigo’s, but that all depends on how you play the game. There’s a whole story behind the wendigo’s as well and the mysterious disappear of Josh’s sisters, Beth and Hannah, which play a big role as to why everyone is gathered at the lodge a year after they went missing. The breakdown of the characters basically goes like this, you have Josh who is grieving the disappearance and possible death of his two sisters while going through some of his own stuff, Matt and Emily who are the typical jock / spoiled rich girl combination, Mike and Jess who are also a typical pretty boy / pretty dumb girl combination, Ashley and Chris who are the typical unrequired / why can’t these two people get their shit together and be together instead of beating around the bush combination, and then there’s Sam. Sam is the only one alone in this game. You’ll get the chance to play each of these characters who have completely different personalities that you’ll have to try and replicate as you play as each of them. This plays a big part in the game as a simple decision can change the way another character sees you for the rest of the game. It’s a pretty interesting aspect of the whole story itself and really shapes the story.
So how scary was this game actually? Not very scary actually. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few jump scares, which are the cheapest kind of scares to me, that got me a few times, but other than that, the game was pretty tame. I thought it was going to be a lot scarier but it just wasn’t. So now the big question, how do I gauge my actual scare meter? I compare it to the original Silent Hill. This game had me actually screaming at points and it was that game that completely turned me off from horror games because I hated being that scared. This game didn’t do that, so it really wasn’t that scary.
The playability for this game is a little wonky at times because if you think about it, it’s basically a walking simulator with some Quicktime events thrown in there for good measure along with decision making. You would think that just walking and aiming a flashlight wouldn’t be that hard, but sometimes in this game it is. I found myself running into walls, walking around in circles, and just not being able to control the character that I was playing all that well. This wasn’t really all that great and by the time it came around to having to play the game over and over again in order to get the platinum trophy this became extremely annoying. Other than that the Quicktime events worked perfectly and were really pin point accurate to where if you didn’t do something in the time given it could mean the death of the character you were playing of or the death of another character. Other than that this game ran bug and glitch free which was just icing on the cake.
Don’t Move Sections Ever wonder what that lightbar on your PS4 controller was for? Basically for games like this where it detects your movement. There are a lot of “Don’t Move” portions I this game and a hell of a lot is riding on them. There’s only one problem with this. It doesn’t actually work all that well. The calibration is kind of off when it comes to this mechanism and I found myself holding completely still during a lot of these segments only to have the game say that I moved. You would think that, going back and playing again, knowing where the don’t move sections are would help so that you could put the controller down so you aren’t actually holding it, but guess what? Even with the controller on a flat surface it still picked up that there was movement when there was none. After a while this became annoying and turned into a don’t move, don’t breath, don’t blink, don’t do anything moment and hope to hell you didn’t mess up.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the graphics for this game, but I truly did. They were some of the best graphics that I had seen in a while and especially for a new IP. Each character was based off an actual character as they went the Beyond: Two Souls route for this game and it worked perfectly and played to the developers advantage. Not only were the facial animations great, but so were the graphics for the surrounding area. You really felt like you were on a mountain top lodge and there was a lot of attention played to small details around the lodge. The graphics were seriously one of the highlights of this game.
Finish this game and do everything it has to offer in order to get yourself 19 trophies including a platinum trophy. I have to say that this game did feel a little cheap with the trophies although they were all high value trophies with 4 bronze trophies, 5 sliver trophies, 9 gold trophies, and 1 platinum trophy. I felt like there could have been more trophies for this game, but I also feel like the getting all of the trophies was enough work that the 19 of them were just fine. This game requires multiple playthroughs in order to do random things like kill everyone, keep everyone alive, kill only certain characters, make some hard choices, and collect all of the collectibles. It’s actually a lot more work than I had originally expected for this game and after I was finished, I was basically burnt out on this game and just wanted it to end.
There is no multiplayer for this game and it seriously doesn’t need it. This is about your experience playing the game and about the choices that you make while playing it. I have to say that I really enjoy these games that don’t tack on multiplayer because they think it will sell more copies. Some games are just made for one person and this is one of those games.
Overall I give this game a 3.5 out of 5
+ The story for this game is an interesting one and the first playthrough of this game will keep you on your toes as you try to figure out what is going on at the lodge while trying to figure out what happened to Beth and Hannah.
+ Playing 8 characters is done flawlessly throughout the game and the transition between playing the characters is an easy one.
+ Each character is based off an actual actor / actress and the graphics are just amazing. It really brings the whole next generation thing to a new level and even two years later, the graphics hold up a lot better than some AAA games that are out there today.
+ Your decisions really do matter in this game and turn into life or death situations for the characters that you’re playing.
What’s Not So Great:
– The playability of this game is a little wonky. Walking should have been one of the easier parts of this game but I found myself on more than one occasion running into walls and walking around in circles because things just wouldn’t operate right.
– The “Don’t Move” sections felt like they weren’t calibrated correctly resulting in some super frustrating moments because seriously, if the controller is down on a flat surface, it’s not moving yet the game picked up that there was movement.
– The game makes the trophy hunters playthrough multiple times and after the first initial playthrough, the original storyline spark is gone and you’re stuck with seeing the same thing over and over again which quickly become annoying.
I have to say when it came to the review for this game I was a little mixed on how I would actually review it. I really did enjoy my first playthrough and felt like it was a great game, despite the few hindrances that occurred like the wonky movements and whole “Don’t Move” sections. Having to go back and play over and over again to get every single trophy though kind of ruined the game for me and made it that much less enjoyable. I would say that this is a good game if you aren’t a trophy hunter because it’s one of those games you can play once see how things end up and be good with that. If you’re a trophy hunter beware because while you might like this game after one playthrough, but by the time you’re finished you’ll be a little bitter about the whole thing.