This is a guest post: by Heath Dettwiller who you can find on twitter @HDeCo_27
To be fair I did not buy this game. But I did go buy playstation plus for $9.99 to get this game for free this past July as it was free to download during that month. The game is about two years old coming out on August 15, 2015 but that is nothing against its control or look as it is a horror game I think the game is meant to feel a little slow and sluggish to make you feel vulnerable. This game is set on top of a mountain with most of the game taking place in and around a mansion that belongs to one of the characters parents. 8 kids are invited to party in the mansion and try and have a good time even though the previous year they had lost two of their friends and still don’t know what happened to them. I won’t spoil anything in this review as I don’t want anyone to be discouraged from playing as I think the twists and turns are an important factor in the experience.
The gameplay of Until Dawn is somewhat of a walking simulator with chances to interact with and find things all while making simple decisions that could affect the story later on. The game heavily relies on the “butterfly effect” which one of the characters explains early in the game. Not necessarily the mechanic but the effect itself which I will leave unsaid as it is a part of the story. The story is fairly linear and characters will be automatically switched around based on where you are in the game and who has died after the the horrors of the mansion have been unleashed. Gameplay is very simple when making the important decisions that will affect the game as it is a wave of the controller (using motion controls) or a button push that will save someone’s life… or not. Later on in the game their are shooting mechanics but they are very simple and there really is not much to explain.
Why This Game Is Special to Me
What really stuck me about this game is that I did not play it… my girlfriend did! Now you may be asking well how are you going to review this game without playing it? Let me explain. I am a gamer, I play CS:GO, Halo, Mass Effect, Call of Duty, massive MMO’s that require hours and hours of grind or hours and hours of practice to “get good” at. This game would have been easy to me. All the quick time events pressed with ease as I dipped, ducked, and dodged my way to an easy victory and never would have felt any urgency to save my life or others in the game. Now that I’m done gloating about my superior skill as a video game player compared to my girlfriend I can explain how bad she is at them and why I chose to watch rather than play.
She has the most difficult time making decisions. Now I don’t mean just picking the restaurant where we go on a date I mean everything. Without going into too much detail about our relationship I will get back to the game. I had heard about the hype of Until Dawn long before I ever thought about buying it and knew what type of game it was, slow decision based horror. She does like horror movies and adding intensity to a game was a must. Also a note. She is not a gamer and will never be a serious one but this was truly a fun experience.
The game starts at a perfect pace with a few cheap jump scares paired with some simple decisions that do not mean a whole lot just to get the player familiar with controllers and the feel of the game. In the first 5 minutes you will experience every mechanic of the game and won’t be surprised by anything later on. Which is great for a gamer like my girlfriend as everything is simple and introduced early on in a smart way. As I saw and watched her struggle with quick decisions and controlling the clunky characters through hazardous environments was a real joy. Much to my surprise, as we continued our adventure through this game she really enjoyed the characters and who lived and died. She and I had become stressed about what decisions to make and what would be the consequences later on. We talked about our decisions and really made a singleplayer game a multiplayer experience.
7 hours and 50 minutes. That is how long it took us to finish our first playthrough of this game and guess what. We did it in one sitting. My non-gamer girlfriend played this game for 8 hours! I believe this had to do with the simple controls, easily relatable characters, and the fact that you began to care for them and their counterparts as you make decisions that will lead to them escaping narrowly or tripping and falling to their death. I have been searching for a game in which to get her foot in the door for gaming and I believe this could be the same for many others. The game looks and feels “good enough” but the sense of community that it brings to those in the room banding together to try and figure out the best way to tackle a decision and seeing the differences in logic at work is a real treat. I highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a spooky game that can be consumed in a weekends time or to someone with a significant other that they want to expose to a game well worth playing.