Feature Article

How PS4-Exclusive Until Dawn's Choices Can Mean Life or Death

Decisions, decisions.

Until Dawn is a game about manipulating relationships. In a story where eight hormone-fuelled young adults are trapped together for one terrifying night, the possibilities for emotional mayhem are endless. Throw in the imminent danger of death at the hands of a serial killer and tensions run high in a very dramatic, very entertaining way.

I played through the first three hours of Until Dawn, watching over and controlling the fates of the young cast who feature in the game. The way the storyline played out was influenced by the choices I made, changing characters' individual traits as well as their relationships with one another. This butterfly effect means that seemingly small choices made early on can supposedly create ripples in the story which have a larger influence on how events play out later in the game.

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Even so, it felt as though the decisions I made seldom had an impact on where the main story moved during the time I played. The changes I experienced were subtle in how they shaped the dialogue and relationships between the cast. For example, while playing as Sam, a diligent and considerate young woman, I was presented with the option of looking through a phone which belonged to her friend Matt. I chose not to look through his belongings and respect his privacy. In a separate playthrough my colleague, when presented with the same option, chose to snoop through the phone. Because of this, when Matt later snatched a friend's private letter away from her, he claimed that because Sam had snooped through his belongings he was allowed to do the same to others. Although the same event took place in my own playthrough, his dialogue about Sam snooping was absent.

I should probably respect my friend's privacy.
I should probably respect my friend's privacy.

Because I spent a lot of time watching these characters interact with one another and influencing their relationships, shaping the way these conversations happened felt interesting and fun. Sure their personalities veered on teen-slasher movie cliche, with the bitchy cheerleader and the obnoxious jock roles filled. But I found a morbid curiosity in watching these characters develop chemistry and at other times, clash terribly. And the drama. Oh the drama. The story draws influences from B-grade horror movies of old; the group of friends who come together to commemorate their friends' deaths. The jock dude encouraging his mate to score with his crush. The couple getting intimate, only to be interrupted by the serial killer.

Do I want to see this fight happen?
Do I want to see this fight happen?

Until Dawn jumped from character to character at pre-determined moments in the story, which allowed me to control one at a time. The game threw at me decision after decision to make as that character, some of which were more crucial than others. Their intensity ranged from choices like "Do I let my friend look through the telescope and see his girlfriend getting cozy with her ex?" to "Do I chase after the killer by jumping down this steep slope or climb down the safer, slower route?" Some of these were the tipping point between the life or death of a character.

The first character death I encountered came as something of a shock, because up until that point I had been convinced that my careful approach to risky situations had been the best thing to do. As I confronted the corpse of my dead friend the game was quick to allude to where I had gone wrong, showing brief flashbacks of where I had decided to take the more secure, but slower path in chasing the killer. Perhaps if I had taken the faster, riskier route, that friend would still be alive. It is supposedly possible to complete the game with everyone alive, or have all eight characters end up dead. The game's auto-save system ensures that players cannot simply go back and load a previous save to undo a crucial choice, adding to the pressure of making a decision which leads to a desirable outcome.

My decision-making was not limited solely to controlling the actions of the characters. At chosen intervals in the game I was whisked away to a therapy session with a psychiatrist which seemed to take place separately from where the game's horror story unfolded. Here, I was quizzed on what made me uneasy, or what triggered my fear. A later session asked me to choose which characters I disliked the most, and asked me to identify whether I feared men or women more. In addition to breaking the fourth wall, these quizzes supposedly serve to alter the course of the game according to what I identified as something which scared me more. While I didn't directly encounter any of my named fears (zombies and roaches), I am curious to see whether these selections materialise in some form later on in the game.

Death by falling, or death by drowning? You decide.
Death by falling, or death by drowning? You decide.

Regardless of what personalised form of disturbia is chosen, the game still employs key scenes seemingly armed with the intent of scaring the player. When hooked up to a PlayStation Eye camera, the game will take a snapshot of the player to capture their reaction as the jump scare moment happens. It's a nice touch, if you are the sort to enjoy looking back at your own horrified expression, or in my own case, laugh at the lack of one.

Although I was initially doubtful about how much I'd enjoy Until Dawn's campy dialogue and B-grade horror film idiosyncrasies, when my time was up with the game I found it difficult to leave the characters behind, and the story hanging. I wanted to see how far the ripples of the butterfly effect reached. I wanted to find out what happens when the relationship between two characters plummets to zero. I want to know if Chris ever hooks up with Ashley. I look forward to the release of Until Dawn on August 26, which will be when I finally find out.

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zorine

Zorine Te

Zorine “harli” Te is an editor based in GameSpot's Australian office. She wants to save the world.
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Avatar image for yoshikawa12
Yoshikawa12

Interesting. It will more interesting if we actually can play as the serial killer at one time in this game :)

Avatar image for SterlingFox
SterlingFox

Is this going to be a full retail release, or just a smaller downloadable game?

Because while it seems interesting and will likely be fun, I'm not really looking to spend $60 on a game that only lasts a few hours. But if its like $20 - 30 then I'm in.

Avatar image for Jimbowesker
Jimbowesker

Sadly, I feel the same thing. I don't see one playthrough lasting very long, although replayability may excel in choosing differently and exploring that may be neat, but still it is not the same. After the first play-through of any game (for me anyways) I lose the sense of wonder and am less captivated the second time around, feeling that I have discovered all the major aspects. Still though, I love the sound of this and know if done correctly, It could be an amazing game. However, it could also be a terrible one. My hopes are high! I do love the sound of the psychiatry sessions in discovering players fears, hopefully it will be expansive enough to find mine!!

Avatar image for layhoma2004
layhoma2004

Why do I have a feeling this will be a short game?

Avatar image for p1p3dream
p1p3dream

@layhoma2004: I can't speak for YOU- but I can only speculate on the length, since we haven't heard much on this; It seems like this would be a type of game where replays were encourage, since presumably there are multiple paths and choices to make and it might take many playthroughs to try and achieve a perfect playthrough where you don't lose any characters (although that hardly seems like any fun.) So I could see in that route, that maybe the game is on the shorter side of 5 to 6 hours for a playthrough. Afterall, it in theory is only simulating one night *Until Dawn*. I don't mind short games. In fact, I would much prefer a really excellently produced, cleverly written, high quality barn burner of a story that keeps me on edge the whole way, than i would prefer the Dragon Age Inquistion style game, which is HUGE but kind of bland just big for the sake of being big. I think a lot of people would agree with me? I've always believed in quality over quantity. It's meaningless to judge a game purely on its length. What do you think?

Avatar image for layhoma2004
layhoma2004

@p1p3dream:

Well I think you're on the right track. Maybe the shadow of The Order 1886 still haunts me and not that it's anything similar but the concept of forking out $60 and have it burned in less than a day isn't cost effective. Unless if it's a real quality production money is a constraint for me. But given of the unique mechanics of this game I'm rather optimistic and I would give it the benefit of any doubts.

Avatar image for p1p3dream
p1p3dream

Anyone remember NIGHT TRAP? :)

Avatar image for p1p3dream
p1p3dream

I am so stoked about this game - I have been fantasizing about a game like this for many many many years, it's like the developer read my mind. I've always specifically thought that Friday the 13th could be such an incredible video game either as a A symetrical multiplayer game, or just a single player game... a slasher movie just seems like it could be such a fun and scary game. it could also be a really fun multiplayer game with someone playing Jason / the monster and trying to scare the shit out of the other players and killthem.

Anyway, super excited for this game.

Avatar image for Stogin
Stogin

I'm a huge horror fan, I really hope this game ends up being great, it sounds like a fun idea!

Avatar image for DougSwan
DougSwan

T'would be nice to watch the video, why is it hanging up?

Avatar image for strap_704
Strap_704

This game is looking to be a lot of fun for my family

Avatar image for juancho
Juancho

Remember "The Bouncer"....I dont know about these QTE games...will wait for reviews though..

On a side note, what is Tearaway Unfolded? I saw it comes out in Sept?!

Avatar image for En_Sabah_Nur
En_Sabah_Nur

Damn it Elliot, you're supposed to be taking down Evil Corp, not going to some weekend retreat with friends.

Avatar image for sfirita
sfirita

QTE can be a good mechanic if done correctly ...i feel like this game will achieve that...

Avatar image for p1p3dream
p1p3dream

@sfirita: Some of the "horror sequences" in heavy rain used pretty effective QTE's... like when you have to cut off your finger while filming yourself. Those seuqences in heavy rain always made me wish there was a horror game like saw that would come out. Until Dawn!

Avatar image for sfirita
sfirita

@p1p3dream: yeah :) i remember that sequence..:)..heavy rain was unique...

Avatar image for p1p3dream
p1p3dream

@sfirita: Agreed- it was unique, and I would argue far superior to the companys next game Beyond. Heavy Rain was a game you either loved or hated, not really much middle ground- i really thought it was something special though, and wow, some of its "horror" sequences were incredibly intense! I can't wait for Until Dawn to scare the crap out of me. SOunds like a great game to play with a bunch of your friends over.

Avatar image for VintAge68
VintAge68

"The game's auto-save system ensures that players cannot simply go back and load a previous save to undo a crucial choice" --that likely is what adds gravity to the teenage relationship stuff, and unlike role-playing games like Mass Effect where one can easily "undo" unwanted effects by loading a previous savegame...

Avatar image for scottyp360
scottyp360

@VintAge68:

I feel like it is an option we should have. It almost seems like an excuse for players to replay the game.

Avatar image for xbhonner
xbhonner

never ever ever complement this game's graphic or else pc gamer will be angry, remember that.

we should respect pc gamer, they get angry easily.

Avatar image for Hector_01
Hector_01

@xbhonner: never ever ever feed the troll or else the troll will keep trolling, remember that.

we should not respect the troll, they troll easily.

Avatar image for xbhonner
xbhonner

@Hector_01 said:

@xbhonner: never ever ever feed the troll or else the troll will keep trolling, remember that.

we should not respect the troll, they troll easily.

its the truth, whether you like it or not, that pc gamers are sensitive. especially about graphic. This is not trolling, this is a fact, lol.

Avatar image for elmarine2066
elmarine2066

@Hector_01 said:

@xbhonner: never ever ever feed the troll or else the troll will keep trolling, remember that.

we should not respect the troll, they troll easily.

Lol

Avatar image for aftershave219
AfterShave219

I'm fine with a game that has no replayability as long as the first playthrough is exceptional.

Avatar image for p1p3dream
p1p3dream

@aftershave219: Exactly. Not all games have to be replayable. Heavy Rain was one of those games, that even the developer stated, that he did not want people to replay the game... that he wanted people to experience their version of the story, and then be done with it. I think its a cool concept.

Avatar image for Holopaw
Holopaw

Night Trap

Avatar image for RaveNRolla
RaveNRolla

Looks like another House of Horrors is on the way... :)

Avatar image for dmblum1799
dmblum1799

I have question unreated, directly at least but tangentially to this.

Which fanboy trolls are most annoying , deluded, and jusr plain rude?

Ps4 , Xbox, or PC? I leave out WII as they don't seem to troll much.

Avatar image for elmarine2066
elmarine2066

@dmblum1799:

Xbone for sure.

Avatar image for edwardnygma
EdwardNygma

@dmblum1799: Xbox fanboys are the worst and yes I own one.

Avatar image for sleepnsurf
sleepnsurf

@edwardnygmap: Dream on kid, Ps fartheads take that trophy

Avatar image for xbhonner
xbhonner

@dmblum1799 said:

I have question unreated, directly at least but tangentially to this.

Which fanboy trolls are most annoying , deluded, and jusr plain rude?

Ps4 , Xbox, or PC? I leave out WII as they don't seem to troll much.

just read all articles, and see the comment

i thik its xbox

Avatar image for jecomans
jecomans

@dmblum1799: All fanboys are equal, including Nintendo's fanboys. Only a fanboy would think otherwise.

Avatar image for the_funyarinpa
The_Funyarinpa

@dmblum1799: who cares?

Avatar image for cwv_rebirth
cwv_rebirth

The concept is really cool, so I'll probably pick this up at some point down the road. The lack of substantial gameplay kinda puts this in rental or bargain bin territory anyway.

Avatar image for ferna1234
ferna1234

this is the song for this game:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_DVOooSojo

Avatar image for renfield87
renfield87

Dammmmmn! I feel like Playstion usually gets all the horror exclusives! This game Bloodborne,Heavy Rain (was about a serial killer so its a genre of horror) Last of Us exc. And this game is supposed to be kinda cheesy a lot of b movies are. Can't wait for this the Jason games and Summer Camp. Hopefully Summer Camp comes in a limited big box VHS case that'd be official!!!

Avatar image for p1p3dream
p1p3dream

@renfield87: woah woah woah, hold on, there is a JASON GAME COMING OUT???? Lol, i just made a post on this thread about how i wished they would make a friday the 13th horror game that would do the franchise justice.

Avatar image for ebonguard
Ebonguard

Good article. When I first saw this game I was going to skip it altogether because it just looked so hokey. After reading this article, I'm willing to give it a playthrough. Especially once its been out and reviews have given a better picture of what its about.

Avatar image for donjuancorleone
DonJuanCorleone

This is an indie game right? im not bashing it or anything, just wondering on the price tag.

Avatar image for p1p3dream
p1p3dream

@donjuancorleone: indie? no, this would be considered a AAA release.

Avatar image for jecomans
jecomans

@donjuancorleone: It is on the PS Store now. It is a full price release. AUD$80, so I assume that means US$60, or your regional equivalent.

Avatar image for demetri
Demetri

Massive horror fan and gamer. This game is what I've been waiting for!

Avatar image for Swaghard
Swaghard

Most horror game makers forget the quality fromage. You need the quality fromage.

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shazamallhakaza

we want the top comments back please!