Oh hun, such a drama queen.


CRank: 10Score: 93730

User Review : Until Dawn

  • Fascinating, gripping narrative
  • Stunning, detailed characters and environment
  • Innovative and functional Butterfly Effect system
  • Could have been longer if elements were further explored
  • Slightly mediocre retcon execution

Your choices determine who survives.

Until Dawn is an experience unlike any other for several reasons; primarily, because it is every good—and bad—horror story, gloriously merged into a single, original and innovative narrative. It contains a little bit of everything and in my eyes, is the definitive teen horror story in video gaming. Until Dawn was originally planned to release as a PlayStation 3 exclusive with a heavy emphasis on the PlayStation Move component a few years ago, but was rebuilt from the ground up as a PlayStation 4 exclusive title; I've been following the game's development since its original rumor and it's an unfortunate understatement when I say that it was well worth the wait.

Until Dawn tells the story of eight friends who return to the Blackwood Pines lodge on Mount Washington on the one year anniversary of the disappearance of two of their friends, and quickly learn that something sinister had been waiting for their arrival. With a cast of brilliant actors—some well known, some not so much—portraying the roles of the eight playable characters, it weaves together a story of intrigue, tension, suspense and of course, the supernatural. It explores a small handful of different themes, not only within the narrative, but within the characters themselves and manages to sink its teeth into players from the moment the experience begins and well after it's over.

One unfortunate struggle that horror games always seem to face is the concept of pacing; in some experiences, everything begins to unfold terribly early and leaves the rest of the story stale and exorbitant. In other cases, it's far too long of a build up and players often lose interest before the story has reached a turning point. Until Dawn manages to secure the concept quite well, to the point where enough strange and eyebrow-raising occurrences present themselves early enough to keep players interested, but the game doesn't show its hand within the first hour, either. The plot unfolds at a steady pace, but there is a handful of information and situations that will not be witnessed on the first play through and that is because of Supermassive Games' implementation of the refreshing and innovative Butterfly Effect system.

I think it's safe to say that everyone's heard of the butterfly effect or chaos theory at some point in their lives, whether it be in passing or because one has read A Sound of Thunder or watched the unforgivably disappointing film. The butterfly effect is a phenomenon in which a small event in the initial condition of a system results in significant changes in later conditions. Most people associate it with weather; for example, a butterfly flapping its wings in say, California, may result in a tropical storm on the east coast. The butterfly effect is ever so present in Until Dawn and is the primary drive in the narrative; the game is centered on player choice, and choices made in the game have enough of an effect to determine who will live and who will die. With that being said, it is entirely possible to complete the game with all eight characters alive at the end, or with all eight of them dead, or anything in between.

True, every decision made in Until Dawn has a consequence, but like in real life, there are some situations where a choice is presented that will have the same ultimate consequence no matter what, but may vary in how people perceive, react towards or treat you. Some people may feel cheated in this regard, because the game does have a heavy emphasis on decision making and kind of takes that away from the player during key moments for the sake of the plot. It's understandable, but one has to recognize that sometimes, situations are only disguised as choices. That's why I respect the decision system in Until Dawn so much: it embodies real world elements and there is no "right" or "wrong" decision.

Initially, Until Dawn reads like your classic teen horror film; a group of young people isolated in a remote location and are sharing company with a deranged psychopath. However, later in the narrative, it takes a surprising turn towards the supernatural in a smart and interesting twist. It embodies a true-to-life mythology of the Algonquian culture and it reminds me a little of the final chapters of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, but with the overall setting and tone of Until Dawn, the situation is much darker and significantly more insidious. I personally found it a little disappointing, because I wanted the 'stalked by a psychopath' theme to be explored more than it was, but the narrative was an overall solid presentation regardless.

Until Dawn boasts some of the most impressive and stunning visuals I have ever seen in a video game. It has an almost obsessive-compulsive attention to detail, even with the most insignificant of aspects, which shows a tremendous amount of effort towards creating a truly cinematic and immersive experience. The environments truly present the same kind of vibes I would expect if I were personally in the same situation as the characters in the game; the snowy landscape of the mountain feels isolated, threatening and inspires paranoia, while the labyrinth of the lodge feels grand, intimidating and claustrophobic in some instances. With proper lighting effects and shadows, the experience depicts itself as realistic as possible, and with original and disturbing camera angles, you'll always feel as though you're being watched. With a beautifully orchestrated score by veteran composer, Jason Graves, the setting and tones of Until Dawn are solidified by the eerily fitting music that truly sets the stage for a palm-sweating, hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck situation and it is absolutely brilliant.

Like any story—no matter how good or bad—there will always be the occasional plot-hole or last-minute twist that could have been better thought out, and Until Dawn isn't innocent of that. There are a couple of instances where the game pulls a cheap retcon, but upon closer inspection of the original fact, the dramatic plot shift feels almost like an after thought and doesn't prove to be consistent. It is a little frustrating given that the rest of the narrative is on the proper track, but this little instance may be enough to derail the impact for some players, even if it is only in a minor sense.

Until Dawn is an unfortunately short game; I managed to complete it in around eight to nine hours, and the true and unfortunate downside is that the game could have easily been a little longer if the theme of being stalked by a psychopath was explored more. However, maybe that's just me trying to find a legitimate excuse for the game to further explore that theme. In spite of the fact, Until Dawn offers moderately high replay value because due to the butterfly effect system, different choices will present different consequences; the player will miss out on critical information, situations and scenes if they only play through the game once. Either way, Until Dawn is a masterpiece that should be explored, analyzed and appreciated consistently.

Until Dawn boasts some of the most impressive and stunning visuals I've ever seen in a video game. With incredible detail and a complete lack of texture issues, it truly showcases the dedicated effort in creating an immersive, cinematic experience.
Voice acting is magnificent, save for a few awkward dialogue moments. With composition from Jason Graves, the music in Until Dawn really works wonderfully and sets a stage for tension, suspense and horror.
With similarities between Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, Until Dawn takes a refreshing gameplay formula and personalizes it for this experience. It focuses heavily on exploration and story-telling, with a little QTE action on the side and it works wonderfully.
Fun Factor
A completely enjoyable experience from start to finish with moderately high replay value thanks to the Butterfly Effect system, which changes the story as you play, depending on the decisions you make.
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robtion2160d ago

Nice review, thanks for keeping it spoiler free.

I haven't finished my first run through yet but am loving the game and can already tell I will play it multiple times.

Can I ask how many did you manage to save on your first try?

Valenka2159d ago

I managed to complete my first playthrough with keeping four people alive. I would have had seven alive if I didn't make a foolish mistake.

During my second playthrough, I managed to keep everyone alive. Now the hard part will be a third playthrough and getting everyone to die.

coolbeans2159d ago (Edited 2159d ago )

Shouldn't be too hard. Remember all the 90's horror tropes for the blonde, jock, etc. getting killed and you'll have the party dead in no time. ;)

Valenka2159d ago

Well, it'll be "hard" because I'm not good with deliberately failing to get characters to die. Took me forever with Heavy Rain for the "bad" ending because I didn't want anyone to actually die, lmao.

coolbeans2159d ago

In that case, I see what you mean and can relate to that.

miyamoto2145d ago

This game made me a more sensible human being.
No other game made me feel a sense of responsibility to care for peoples' lives.

This game will test what kind of real human being you are.

This game educates me to be a mature person making good decisions.

perfect game!

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burza19822160d ago

10/10? Seriously?
You are the first person with score 10.
I don't think that game is worth 10.
Looks little weird then you see score 10 for that game and score 10 for MGSV masterpiece. Is the Until Dawn is a masterpiece like MGSV?

Blastoise2160d ago

Have you actually played either Until Dawn or Metal Gear Solid V?

shammgod2160d ago

Judging by your avatar, you are an MGS homer. No problem with that, MGS is a great series and I am highly anticipating next week to play Phantom Pain. However, it doesn't mean that no other game ever could get a 10/10.

Good review. I bought Until Dawn and plan on getting into it this weekend. I watched a couple streams and immediately went out and bought it. Looks crazy fun!

chrisco84au2159d ago (Edited 2159d ago )

His review, his opinion, his score.
100% fair and legit (as his point of view)

No one has to agree with the score but you cannot disagree with it either, it's his personal experience.

Simple as that.

And hey he might score MGSV a 0 (highly unlikely) but that's why we are all individuals.

What did you score MGSV after your first run through? I take it from your comment you have an early release copy?

OT: Well written and great review, cannot wait to continue my first play through.

sullynathan2159d ago

this comment is stupid. Why do you think anyone cares that you don't think a game you haven't played is given a 10/10 by a random n4g user?
Why didn't you give any reason to back your statement?

Kratos0Ultra2159d ago (Edited 2159d ago )

@ burza1982:

So far I would say so. I have played about 4-5 hours and it could just be my game of the year.

Valenka2159d ago

Well, that's the beauty of opinions, isn't it? You might find the game undeserving of a 10/10, but I've played it and I find it to be a phenomenal masterpiece. The difference here, is that you're comparing apples to oranges. If you'd notice, I also gave The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt a 10/10 as well. But Until Dawn and The Witcher are obviously two very different games, and why you thought it was necessary to compare Until Dawn to Metal Gear Solid is beyond me.

Like someone else said, there can be more than one masterpiece in the world at a time, especially considering the fact that there are countless genres for video games that make it so comparing apples to oranges would be a completely nonsensical and irrelevant standpoint.

With that being said, I obviously respect your opinion that you feel Until Dawn is undeserving of a 10/10...whether or not you've actually played it...but that's beside the point.

Lastly, I may be the first person on N4G to give it a 10/10, or anything for that matter, considering the fact that currently, I'm the only person on N4G who actually wrote a review for the game. But, I am not the first person in general to give Until Dawn a 10/10. Do a Google search, or just check the posted ratings here on N4G.

IamTylerDurden12158d ago

There are review sites to give it 10/10.

miyamoto2145d ago

It is a well thought out masterpiece of a game.

Its simple to play but the complexity of how Supermassive and the two veteran Hollywood horror movie writers put this game together beats so many AAA games out there.

This is a different kind of a beast!
A work of geniuses.
It will play with your mind and morality.
You will get a glimpse of how intricate this game is when you finish it and replay it.

All the technical limitations are not enough to drag this game down.

N4Geeing2141d ago

I agree with you to a point,.. 10/10 is a perfect game with no issue.. yet this and MSG got it, Wow!,, not a 9.5/10 or 9.8/10
But a perfect score.

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Kavorklestein2159d ago

10/10 is definitely too high in my book.

I wouldn't even give Mass Effect series, Witcher 3, or Skyrim or Fallout games a 10, more like 9.5's... let alone this game.
And those are MEATY games with a lot going on and lots of things to do and see. And actual gameplay.

I'm glad you enjoyed the game, but I've played Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain, Beyond Two souls, and they are really great experiences, but I didn't walk away from even those experiences feeling like they deserve 9.5 scores..

To each their own tho.

Kratos0Ultra2159d ago

I think Heavy Rain, indigo prophecy and Until Dawn deserve from 95-100%. They are a specific genre that we could describe as "interactive story or movie". They should be judged by what that genre is about and tries to do and not based on other genres. If you loved those stories and characters and replayed those games to try different things then they are awesome games. Making choices that impact events and outcome of story or characters plus exploration and finding collectables is gameplay enough. These are rewarding and satisfying experiences to me and others that deserve more respect.

chrisco84au2159d ago

Exactly. Well said.
A good review takes the genre into the consideration and scores it from there.
Obviously there are things in ALL games and genres which can be compared and judged/scored/rated against (eg: performance)

But you don't take a point away from Halo 5 because the character creation (a random example) was lacking. As it's not a part of the game/genre.

Valenka2159d ago

Exactly. I couldn't have said it better myself, Kratos0Ultra.

kenwonobi2159d ago

You have me excited. That was a very professional review. It has officially gotten a 10 now by another site. So you obviously aren't alone in thinking it's a masterpiece.

Sm00thNinja2158d ago

To each his own I haven't beaten it yet maybe it gets better ....

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