Until Dawn's Hollywood-Infused PS4 Reboot is Absolutely Terrifying

Hollywood horror.

One of the more surprising announcements to come out of Sony's Gamescom 2014 press conference was Supermassive Games' Until Dawn, a game that had all but vanished since its last appearance at New York Comicon in 2012. Originally unveiled as Move game on PlayStation 3, Until Dawn has now ditched the Move controller and the PS3 for Sony's shiny new Dualshock 4 and PS4. But the biggest change to the game comes from its new stylistic direction. Where the old Until Dawn was pitched as a schlocky teen horror, its new next-gen guise takes a darker, more terrifying turn--and that is a very good thing.

It helps that Until Dawn is longer played from a first-person perspective. Instead, the game is played in third person, and camera angles are typically fixed. I doubt few will lament the loss of the Move controller, but the switch to third-person might ruffle a few feathers for those wanting first-person immersion. That said, those cinematic camera angles worked very well in the demo I was shown, helping to build tension by tucking darkened doors and the nasties of the night just out of sight.

One thing that hasn't changed is the story, which revolves around a group of eight people spending a night in a log cabin to commemorate the anniversary of their friend's death. Naturally, things go awry, the group gets separated, and things go bump in the night; so far, so horror then. Certainly, the demo was more about classic shock tactics and splashes of blood than any sophisticated psychological scares, but with only a small snippet of the game on show, it's hard to get a true feel for how the story will develop.

What I can tell you is that there is going to be a lot of story to dig into. Supermassive claims the game features over a thousand different endings, which are made possible by the game's "Butterfly Effect" tech. The idea is that any action you take in the game--whether be as small as turning over an object or knocking something over, or as big as killing another character off--will have a knock on effect on the rest of story. Everyone that plays the game starts from the same central point, but from then on the story can branch out in numerous directions, the idea being that everyone will have a different experience.

Every character in the game can be killed, with the story adapting around the remaining characters. There's no right or wrong way to do things. While you'll be asked to make some tough choices--abandoning your partner to investigate a distant noise, or deciding to shoot yourself in the head to save your partner's life were just two examples I was shown--there's no hard and fast moral compass other than your own to guide you. There's also the option of simply not making a choice at all, or taking too long to do so, in which case an entirely different event plays out.

Not all Butterfly Effect interactions have dramatic consequences, though. Some interactions with objects only results in an instant response, while others might only affect a particular scene. Regardless, you're encouraged to poke around as much as possible, which is helped along by a clues system that tracks your progress into uncovering the mysterious events surrounding your friend's death and your current predicament.

Until Dawn is first and foremost an adventure game, so rather than being armed to the teeth with weapons shooting bad guys, interactions are of the Heavy Rain style, where you pick up objects and examine them, tiling the Dualshock controller to do so. Motion also controls the flashlight as you wander around the suitably dark and creepy backdrops. Sometimes, you might pick up an object that can used as a weapon, but it only comes into play during a particular scene and you make a moral choice whether to use it or not. An example of this was show during the demo, where the character Ashley picks up a pair of scissors, and a butterfly icon flashes on screen. Later, as she and her partner Chris encounter a sadistic psycho in a creepy clown mask, you're given the option to defend yourself with the scissors, or back down entirely.

Given the focus on storytelling and character interactions over all-out action, the success of Until Dawn depends largely on its voice actors and believable animations, as well as excellent writing. On all fronts, Supermassive has drafted some impressive talent, including Hollywood writers for the script, and actors Hayden Panettiere and Rami Malik for the voice acting and motion capture. Indeed, it was hard not to get sucked into the drama between Chris and Ashley as they explored a dilapidated hotel. The game also features some impressive facial animation technology running atop the Killzone: Shadowfall engine, which gives each line of dialogue an impressively convincing feel.

That's all well and good, but what you're probably wondering is, "is it scary?" I'm a bit of a horror fanatic, but there were definitely some moments during the demo that made me jump; others in the room let out some terrified screams. If you're a sucker for scares, this is on game I'd definitely keep an eye on.

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63 comments
pip3dream
pip3dream

This game sounds so cool.  I don't really consider myself a fanboy of either system, as i game on XboxOne, PS4, and PC... but it just seems like the games on the playstation console are consistently a little more interesting???  I'm one of those people who is just sick and tired of playing games that is a dude holding a floating gun.  This looks great!  I love the whole idea of playing in an interactive horror movie!  But... I love horror movies.  This game just sounds like there is all kinds of fun potential of having a few friends over and getting your nuts scared off.  These games, even as single player affairs, can be a real riot for having friends over to play in the dark.  Even just playing the P.T. demo with some friends over was a real hoot.  


I would love a game like Cabin in the Woods, but this will do. :)

rasterorsoniu13
rasterorsoniu13

Between this and Silent Hills, two different flavors of horror, my mind and wallet are ready. But my skin is not! Can't wait!

zfazal84
zfazal84

not really sold on it.... looks like another interactive movie.

MVan86
MVan86

Could be interesting, I'll have to keep an eye on it. 


Good to see a resurgence of horror games.

Jshaw71
Jshaw71

Well, this is an interesting suprise... But are they going to complete this game? I'd like to see them release what was done of until dawn on the ps3, anyways, maybe as a demo, or just an alpha test, but whatever, is this going to be a digital release like the ps3 version was, or is it going to be a retail release? (or both) 

lostn
lostn

Sounds interesting. A walking dead style game with good graphics. Consider me intrigued. I have doubts about the thousand endings though. Unless this game is super short, I can't see how it can have that many unique endings. They will likely be minor details that change.

ps3gamer1234
ps3gamer1234

The game trailer looks like a actual horror movie trailer.

amaneuvering
amaneuvering

But is it really just turning into an interactive movie?

mattress805
mattress805

As a 360' owner and never having a ps3 but getting a launch day ps4, I have to say I love the variety games I've played on the ps4. Of course there's never a bunch of AAA games in the first year of a console cycle. But Sony has done a great job of filling in the spaces between AAA titles with smaller studio and independent releases. It's almost like sonynis directly targeting consumers like myself who never played any ps3 games. This is another awesome title possibly.

kadaverhagga
kadaverhagga

If this works well this game will be awesome.

dohberyaxitac
dohberyaxitac

At first I thought it sounded like a remake of ObsCure I'm still not really convinced that it isn't XD

callsignalpha
callsignalpha

"It helps that Until Dawn is longer played from a first-person perspective" ........... i think he meant NO LONGER played

Pierce_Sparrow
Pierce_Sparrow

Hmmm, this presents things in a two fold way. There have been successful story based games that do away with most conventional gameplay mechanics, but I can count them on my hands and feet. The other perspective is Murdered, which was also story based and a pretty bad game, mostly because you barely did anything besides wander around and look at stuff, with occasional action-ish elements. The gameplay has to justify the story. I can see this being an excellent game for successfully capturing this kind of horror, but not if it decides to make it so cinematic, you barely play it. All I want from this is that it have a decent mix of gameplay, atmosphere, and story. That would make me happy.

Jasurim
Jasurim

This game sounds awesome, I'm really looking forward to this one now.

deathstream
deathstream

PS4 games CANNOT be scary because you are always sitting in a well lit room thanks to the flashlight they stuck on the end of the DS4.  Until they let people turn it off, the PS4 is the worst console ever for horror games.

Zorine
Zorine moderator staffmoderator

Woohoo more horror games!

berethor099
berethor099

This looks awesome.  Can't wait to hear more!

sakaixx
sakaixx

if the story revolves around the remaining survivor and everyone can be killed that means . . . damn that means like near 50 plus endings, wow this game looking good ! sony had 7 games on my radar now no man sky, silent hill, this, bloodborne,RIME, order 1886 and wild. damn that is too many new IP !

flaw600
flaw600

Until Dawn is shown on PS4's Playstation Store as available for Pre-Order but if you try, it says 'not available at this time'. Weird

Barighm
Barighm

Yet another new PS4 game that looks cooler than Rise of the Tomb Raider.

xantufrog
xantufrog

This looks much more appealing than the original pitch

ck10304
ck10304

She says in the video that instead of being more "I know what you did last summer / campy" it was instead like something about "mid-naughties"? I don't know what she said because accent kicked into full gear at that one particular phrase, anyone know what she actually said? 

focuspuller
focuspuller

Alright, sounds good! Consider me interested.

System4Ever
System4Ever

The fact that it was originally presented as a Playstation Move game frightens me...

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

Whoah, story? Scary moments? Having nerdgasm here folks! I'M SOLD! GIMMIE!

gamebuyer22
gamebuyer22

I dont like the characters. Annoying typical horror movie stereotypes. Not only that i dont wanna see or hear Hayden Panettiere. I'll still play it though haha.

Snowx1
Snowx1

Sounding good and being good are two different things. Until Dawn sounds interesting with the butterfly effect situation and the dynamics going on but will it play out good? Will keep an eye out.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

This could be very cool and atmospheric, actually I'm sure it will be, but could very easily be frustrating and clunky as hell if they haven't learned from the mistakes of this genre in the past.  Not much to be said at this point though.

I think it's safe to say it's going to be fairly fresh and interesting.  Glad it's being made.  Looks like the kind of thing I would buy if I had a PS4.  Although while the facial animations look good, they really need to do some work on those facial textures, and the light refraction is all wrong.  They look like they're made of plastic.

zfazal84
zfazal84

@mattress805 All the good games for PS4 are coming out in 2015 Ps4's offerings in 2014 are pretty weak. The only decent exclusive they have in 2014 in Infamous SS


and please don't talk about TLOU, that's a PS3 game from last year. Not a new game.

mattress805
mattress805

Here's a tip....buy a 59 cent roll of electrical tape and cover that led light up. See what I did there. Lol. Whiner. I used to work with special ed kids. I'm very familiar with how to w. Help kids like you with complicated problems.

Albaficas
Albaficas

@deathstream silent hill teaser say hi to ya

and silent hill will be time exclusive to ps4 s osuck it up


xbox one dont even have a horror game so far

Lacerz
Lacerz

@deathstream Pretty sure the light didn't make one dent in the Silent Hills teaser's tension and scares.  Sounds like petty bickering.

lord_lad
lord_lad

@Zorine more house of horrors material for you gals!! Can't wait to see House of Horrors tackle P.I. !!!

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

@ck10304 mid noughties as in mid 2000's style of teen horror flick.

Mkeegs79
Mkeegs79

@System4Ever The game is rebuilt from the ground up. It isn't simply paste and cut dual shock controls.

rasterorsoniu13
rasterorsoniu13

@Lacerz Silent Hills will be scarier, but this is still creepy. I'm gonna play and enjoy both!!

imajinn
imajinn

@dirtydishes23 @sakaixx Replay value and story immersion. If there are multiple ways to end a game, i.e. Silent Hill, I am all over it. If you do not want to do the multiple endings, play through one time or the same way you ran it the first time. I don't get whats not to like about a game with multiple endings. 

If your into it, smooth. If your not into it, also smooth as you do not have to play it again differently to get a different ending.

sakaixx
sakaixx

@dirtydishes23 @sakaixx usually people who says this is the ones who use guides but not saying its bad lol, getting your own ending with your choices and decisions, comparing it with others and replaying the game trying to get the real ending is part of the fun. it adds value to the game.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@dirtydishes23 @sakaixx I always find when more than one ending is possible the first ending that you choose to get through natural choices as you go through the game feels real and proper. Then you have the others. 

If you then go and try the other endings the entire game unravels. Kind of like seeing the illusion behind a magic trick, it makes it lose its magic entirely. Or Elizabeth seeing behind all of the doors in Bioshock Infinite. 

It is great till that point then it all crashes down and at the same time it also become boring in my opinion.

ck10304
ck10304

@Carpetfluff @ck10304 Oh she actually said mid-naughties? Haha, I guess that makes sense considering the British use of naught (nought?). 

StarsiderSajun
StarsiderSajun

@Dannystaples14 @dirtydishes23 @sakaixx That's how I am. I stick with the ending I get naturally, and that's usually the one I identify with, and I generally never pursue others. I'd much prefer branching paths and having your choices influence the story while there still being the 1 ending. Just feels like having a bunch devalues them all.

StarsiderSajun
StarsiderSajun

@ck10304 @Carpetfluff Yeah that's odd though. I've spent most of my life watching British television and whatnot, reading novels using their (in my opinion far superior) version of english, but never heard the saying "mid-noughties". Makes sense.

Carpetfluff
Carpetfluff

@ck10304 @Carpetfluff Yup, it's pretty common here to hear the decade described as the noughties. Mostly thanks to a lot of the countdown TV shows that go through popular stuff from different decades; after calling everything the eighties, nineties or whatever they went with noughties rather than the calling it the 2000's...'cos that sounds wrong somehow.