|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Release date(s)||NA 25 August 2015
EU 26 August 2015
AUS 26 August 2015
JP 27 August 2015
UK 28 August 2015
|Genre(s)||Interactive drama, survival horror|
Until Dawn is an interactive drama survival horror video game developed by Supermassive Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 4. It was originally scheduled to be released on the PlayStation 3 and feature PlayStation Move support, but in August 2014, the game was reintroduced as a PlayStation 4 exclusive, and was released worldwide in August 2015.
Until Dawn was met with a positive critical response upon release, with praise directed at the visuals, 'choice' mechanic, horror elements, music, characters, voice acting, and gameplay design. Most of the criticism the game drew concerned the second half of the story, the camera angles, character movement, and the game's partially linear plot.
Until Dawn is designed to be played multiple times, as players cannot see all content with a single play-through. Each playthrough lasts about nine hours in length and the game mechanics utilize an in-game system called the "Butterfly Effect" in which any choice of action by the player may cause unforeseen consequences later on. For example, locating a weapon in an earlier chapter may allow the player to pick it up down the line when a chase scene leads back to the same room. Throughout the game, players will make difficult decisions during ethical or moral dilemmas, such as sacrificing one character to save another. The Butterfly Effect system blurs the line between right and wrong decisions and it is possible for players to keep all eight characters alive as well as having all eight of them die, allowing for many different paths and scenarios as well as offering several different endings for each character. Until Dawn has a strict auto-save system to prevent players from reloading a previous save file to an earlier point in the game if they regret an in-game decision they have made. The only way to change the player's choice is to restart the game from the beginning or continue to the end and start a new game. The developer has stated that Until Dawn has "hundreds of endings" but that should not be taken literally. Different endings have different variations depending on the combination of characters alive at the end of the game.
The gameplay is focused on exploration, quick-time events and discovering clues as well as making decisions. There is an in-game system that will keep track of all of the clues and secrets players have discovered in total, even if there are multiple playthroughs; these clues will allow the player to piece together the mysteries of Blackwood. In terms of the gameplay mechanics and theme, Until Dawn has been noted to be similar to Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls.
On 2 February 2014, seven friends: Sam (Hayden Panettiere), Mike (Brett Dalton), Chris (Noah Fleiss), Ashley (Galadriel Stineman), Emily (Nichole Bloom), Jessica (Meaghan Martin), and Matt (Jordan Fisher) are celebrating their annual winter getaway at the Blackwood Pines lodge, owned by their mutual friends, Josh Washington (Rami Malek) and his twin sisters, Hannah and Beth (Ella Lentini), located near Blackwood Mountain in Alberta, Canada. The five of them (minus Chris, Josh and Sam) prank Hannah, who flees into the forest in humiliation. When Beth discovers her, the two are hunted by a creature who corners them into a cliff, where they fall and are presumed dead. The chapter is followed by a therapy session with Dr. Hill (Peter Stormare), who poses a question to his patient; these sessions will come up in following chapters and will affect what contents of the game that will be shown. His patient is concealed with the first-person view at first, but is later revealed to be Josh.
A year later, the seven are invited by Josh to attend another getaway at the Blackwood Pines. As they arrive, Emily and Matt decide to go back to retrieve Emily's bag. Jessica is taken by an unknown creature while she and Mike are heading to the guest cabin, and depending on his choices Mike either finds Jessica dead or badly injured before the mine elevator collapses taking her into the mines. Mike continues through the area, following a stranger who was lurking in the shadows, and enters a sanatorium, where he learns about an incident in 1952 where several workers were trapped in a cave-in. Meanwhile, Chris and Ashley are attacked by a figure who kidnaps Ashley and traps her and Josh in a deadly trap, forcing Chris to choose in saving either of them. Regardless of Chris' decision, Josh is presumably killed. Sam is stalked through the lodge by the killer and is either knocked unconscious or escapes into the killer's workshop. Returning to the cabin to search for Sam, Chris and Ashley are once again attacked and strapped to chairs. A figure forces Chris to decide whether to shoot himself or Ashley. This is stopped by Sam and Mike, who has returned, and the two discover that the guns are empty. The figure is revealed to be a mentally unhinged Josh, who blames his friends for causing his sisters' disappearances. While he confirms having set up the traps, he denies having a role in Jessica's presumed demise. He is then strapped into a chair by the others.
Meanwhile, having met with Chris and Ashley before, Emily suggests to Matt that they should head to a radio tower for help. However, the tower collapses into an abandoned mine when she and Matt are attacked by unidentified creatures. Matt either escapes and ventures deeper into the mines or is killed by the creature. Emily explores the mines, finding Beth's head and Hannah's personal effects, and learns that Hannah had survived her fall. She encounters the stranger that Mike previously met, who helps her escape from the creatures. In her escape, Emily can be killed or manages to get back to the lodge. She can also be bitten by the creature in her escape. If she survives, she tells the others of the creature and her discovery of Beth's head.
At the lodge, the stranger (Larry Fessenden) reveals himself and explains that the creatures are wendigos: former humans who, after eating human flesh, are possessed by evil spirits and will not cease their hunting until dawn. Chris and the stranger attempt to free Josh in the shed, but find him gone, and the stranger is decapitated by the wendigos. Chris heads for the cabin, and is either killed by the wendigo, get back to the lodge, or left to die by Ashley if he shot at her in the trap. If Emily is bitten by a wendigo, the group also debate on leaving her alone or to shoot her dead, fearing the wendigo bites are infectious. Either way, Mike goes to the sanatorium to find Josh, who has the key for the cable cars to get away from the lodge. After the wendigos attack, and Mike is forced to burn the sanatorium, he is joined by Sam, who has learned more about the wendigos. Meanwhile, Ashley and Chris can be lured to their deaths by a wendigo. The two learn that Hannah was turned into a wendigo when she resorted to eating Beth's flesh to survive. Mike and Sam find Josh, who is suffering from extreme hallucinations of his sisters. Mike and Josh are ambushed by Hannah and if the player found enough clues about Hannah's transformation, Josh recognizes Hannah and is dragged off. If not, Josh is killed.
Meanwhile, if Jessica and/or Matt are still alive they will regroup and attempt to flee the mountain. Mike and Sam return to the cabin to meet with the other survivors, only to find Hannah inside. The survivors freeze, knowing the wendigos can only see movement. More wendigos arrive and start fighting with Hannah, as the only source of movement they can see. While the creatures are distracted, Mike and Sam jam the lodge's gas-supply open. Sam races out of the cabin before it explodes, pursued by a wendigo, but Hannah grabs the creature before it can get to her, killing both the wendigo and herself in the process. The lodge blows up and the remaining survivors regroup as a helicopter locates them.
Over the credits, those that did not survive the play-through have their death scenes replayed, followed by interviews with scenes of the police interrogation of the survivors. The police are warned by the survivors of the mines. If Josh survived, he'll be discovered by the police. However he has now turned into a wendigo, and attacks them before the screen goes offline.
Until Dawn was announced for the PlayStation 3 at Gamescom 2012 and was originally set to use the PlayStation Move controller. It was announced as a first-person video game, and the players were expected to use the PlayStation Move controller to control the flashlight and torch, as well as to switch between the game's eight different playable characters. It was developed by Supermassive Games, who had previously worked on other PlayStation Move games including 2010's Start the Party!. A trailer and gameplay footage was shown to the public.
The game was originally set to be released in 2013. However, no more details about the game were provided, and the game had not been released as of late 2013. Until Dawn was reportedly cancelled, but Supermassive later clarified that the game was still in development.
Until Dawn was re-introduced at Gamescom 2014. The title now served as a PlayStation 4 exclusive and would shift to a third-person perspective. The PlayStation Move feature was replaced by the DualShock 4's motion sensor. In addition, the torch feature was scrapped in favor of a more traditional level approach, with the characters becoming playable at different parts of the game. In addition to the trailer, a gameplay demo was released. According to Supermassive, the game's transition from PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4 has led the developer to rebuild the game and to rewrite its story, so as to create a more cinematic experience, and to make the game to feel "darker and fundamentally more terrifying". It has also been revealed that Until Dawn would utilize the upgraded Killzone Shadow Fall engine.
On 26 May 2015, Sony announced that the game would be released on 25 August 2015. Players who pre-order the game would receive a bonus mission which features Matt and Emily. Besides the game's standard edition, there are also an extended edition and a steelbook edition that is available for players to purchase. On 31 July 2015, Sony confirmed that the game had been declared gold, indicating it was being prepared for duplication and release.
Lucy O'Brien of IGN gave the game a generally positive review, giving it a 7.5 out of 10. She praised the "creepy" environments, "tongue-in-cheek" tone, and the choices the player is forced to make. She did however dislike certain characters, particularly 'Doctor Hill', and the second half of the game, mostly the story's focus, calling it "silly" and "derailing". She thought that the game was flawed but enjoyable and felt that the story dragged down the game's overall quality.
Game Informer's Jeff Marchiafava gave the game a positive review, with a score of 9/10. He praised the player decision making mechanic, which he felt dynamically changed the game's experience and story. He also praised the game's score, which he called "superb", the voice acting, the story, which was thought of as "intriguing and exciting", and the visuals. He called the gameplay "simple yet effective" and thought it was "engaging", but he criticized the game's animation, which he described as "awkward". Marchiafava stated that the game is a "remarkable experience that horror fans shouldn't miss".
In her mostly positive review for GameSpot, Alexa Ray Corriea scored the game an 8/10, saying that she was surprised by the game. She particularly complimented the narrative because she considered its branching paths have significantly altered the game's story, saying "choices matter in big ways and affect the rest of the game". She also liked the actors' performances, calling them "incredibly good", and the overall replayability. Negative comments were concerning the story, mostly towards the end, and the "unflattering" camera angles. She also said "the visuals can be wonky at times".
VideoGamer.com's Tom Orry gave the game a positive review. He scored it an 8/10, citing the horror elements, acting, "lovely" visuals, and the player choice mechanic as positives, even though he had some minor criticisms. Orry felt that the game had exceeded his expectations and added that the simple gameplay, alongside the story, successfully gives players a thrilling and malleable experience.
Destructoid's Chris Carter gave the game a 7 out of 10. He praised the game's environments, collectibles, and premise. However, he criticized the game's story, which he thought was predictable, and the over-exaggerated acting. In addition, Carter felt that the game lacked meaningful choices.
GamesRadar's Louise Blain gave the game a 3.5 out of 5, calling it a "beautiful" "bloodstained love letter to every horror movie you’ve ever seen". She enjoyed the jump-scares, pace, visuals, and overall tone, but criticized the game for being "painfully" short. She disliked the decision making mechanic as she thought that the system was diminished due to several set plot points.
Giving a mixed review for Polygon, Philip Kollar scored the game a 6.5/10. He found the game "generic", even though he thought it had offered him a unique experience. He did not consider it a great game, but he thought that the game was good enough to keep him engaged. He added that the narrative structure of the game could serve as an example for future narrative-driven video games.
The game was the sixth best selling weekly software in Japan, selling 17,472 copies. The release of this as well as Dragon's Dogma Online provided a slight boost in PlayStation 4 sales. In the United Kingdom, Until Dawn was the second best-selling software for the week of 29 August 2015, debuting at No. 2 in the UK retail software sales chart, only behind Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. According to the NPD Group, Until Dawn was the seventh best selling game in the United States in August 2015. Supermassive executive producer Pete Samuels stated that the sales of the game far exceeded their expectations.
|2015||Golden Joystick Awards||Playstation Game of the Year||Nominated|||
|Global Game Awards||Best Horror Game||Won|||
|Best Original Game||Third|
|The Game Awards||Best Narrative||Pending|||
Spin-off and potential sequel
In an interview with PlayStation LifeStyle, executive producer Pete Samuels stated that Supermassive Games is exploring the possibility of continuing Until Dawn. A spin-off, titled Until Dawn: Rush of Blood was announced by Sony at Paris Games Week 2015. Described as an arcade shooter, the game's development began in the middle of Until Dawn's development. It is set to be released for the PlayStation VR.
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