Until Dawn is a horror-themed adventure/interactive movie. It has Peter Stomare in it for some reason.
I’m not sure why. He plays a surprisingly minor part and I feel like he should have been involved more somehow because who doesn’t like this guy? Anyway, I had no idea that he was in this, or Brett Dalton (Agent Ward), or other semi-famous people you may or may not recognize from things.
Anyway, this is your seemingly standard story about some dumb kids in a cabin in the woods who get into some trouble with some mysterious sources of evil. There seem to be maniacs, monsters, ghosts and other mysteries all going on at once here and you’ll have to survive long enough to figure out exactly what is really going on.
Unfortunately, the beginning of this game is actually really painfully slow as they introduce all the setting and all the characters, many of whom are extremely obnoxious teen stereotypes (who all look like they’re about 30, as “teens” tend to do in horror movies like this). I actually almost stopped out of boredom because this intro phase drags on a bit too long, but I soon became glad that I stuck with it. I even got to like some of the annoying characters with time, seeing how they were forced to toughen up under the pressures they soon began to face. Except for Emily. Emily is a non-stop bitch and I shot her in the face first chance I got.
Yes, that’s a thing you can actually do and it’s amazing. Most of the characters can die at almost any time, and in surprisingly gruesome ways, if you mess up enough QTEs or make some really dumb decisions.
Some of the choices are really obvious horror tropes and if you know your basic horror movie logic you’ll be able to choose well enough to survive most of the situations, though there are times when the decisions can be a little tricky…
That was a surprisingly tense moment, being forced to choose between your fingers or your weapon, while something is coming towards you from the dark that you might not be able to survive if you lose your only weapon, and if you fail to make a choice you will almost certainly just die.
So, this being an adventure/interactive movie, that’s about all you can do in the game. Make choices and press the occasional prompted button. Oh sure, you can wander around looking for collectibles in most areas, and some sequences can get pretty fast paced and actiony…
…but for the most part your interaction is a bit limited. This is not to say that your choices and button presses don’t matter though. As mentioned before, these choices can quickly lead not only to permanent character deaths, but also to changes in the overall plot and dialogue of the game. Some areas can only be seen if you make the right choice and others can be missed because a character died too soon. Characters will interact with each other and deal with certain situations differently based on your choices. You can also affect your characters’ understanding of the overall situation if you look hard for all the clues lying around, which aren’t mandatory, but help build on the story and explain some of the mysteries going on. The story itself is actually very well written too. The mysteries unfold at a great pace, giving you just enough information to keep you wondering and speculating, but never being so predictable that you’ll be able to guess what’s fully going on too soon. I won’t get into the details, I’ll just say not everything is what it seems to be.
I’d say my only real disappointment with the game is that despite all the alterations your actions can make to the ongoing plot, none of it really seems to matter in the end. The only thing that really affects the end is getting all 20 Twins collectibles, which opens a brief extra scene after the credits. Other than that, it doesn’t really matter who lives or dies. You get basically the same ending no matter what, where you see the characters that survived doing police interviews during the credits. The dialogue will be different depending on your choices, but that’s it. If one person survives or all people survive, the same thing happens, or if none survive, you just get regular old empty credits. None of it really matters unless you’re looking to get the trophies for saving/killing everyone. Oh well.
Overall though, after pushing through that rough beginning, this game was a great experience and I had a hard time putting it down once things got moving. It’s nice to know that it still has some surprises waiting for me someday too. Even though I went through again and did the saving everyone/killing everyone endings, there were still several paths I never got to choose and many more unique death sequences that I haven’t seen yet. I’ll have to do a run someday where I just make the most dumb and assholish choices possible in every situation, but I’ve had enough of it for now. On to other things.