Gamer Girl Musings : Until Dawn Review

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By Jaime Whittaker (@JaimeW912)

Welcome to another edition of Gamer Girl Musings! Today, I am going to share with you my review on the interactive drama survival horror game, Until Dawn.

This game was developed by Supermassive Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PS4. According to the game’s Wikipedia page, “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”.

I had some pretty high expectations in place when I got this game as apparently the player who returned it had run through the game three times, and by the third time the game had just gotten TOO scary. It is said that no two players have exactly the same game experience and that even the same player going through the game again may not have the same experience as even a small change in how one plays effects the outcome in the game.

Supermassive used a scientific approach when developing the fear factors for this game. Watch the video below to see how this was accomplished:



I am a hardcore horror fan. I love survival horror games and let me tell you…this game was not a disappointment! I definitely suggest playing the game with headphones on if you can, as I found it made a huge difference in the effects of the ambient scares, as well as the high impact scares.

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There are eight characters that the player has the opportunity to control throughout the game:

Samantha : Hayden Panettiere

Josh : Rami Malek

Mike : Brett Dalton

Jessica : Meaghan Martin

Ashley : Galadriel Stineman

Emily : Nichole Bloom

Matt : Jordan Fisher

Chris : Noah Fleiss

There is also a character known as Dr. Hill voiced by Peter Stormare.

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Mega, ultra-creepy Dr. Hill



Each of these characters made me feel like I either strongly liked them or strongly disliked them, which is a sign of good character development. Sometimes I started off not liking a character and ended up rooting for them in the end. Sometimes I would say that I wished a certain character would just die, but then when given the opportunity to kill said character off I would instead choose to spare his/her life.

In between “episodes” of Until Dawn, the player attends sessions with Dr. Hill in which he gathers data on your personal feelings about some of the characters, as well as some of the things that scare you the most. It can only be assumed that this data is used to personalize the player’s fear factors in the game as I saw MANY of my strongest fears throughout the game.

Here is my breakdown of the good and the bad:

Good:

  • Puzzles to solve, clues to collect. This reminds me of the kind of classic survival horror game I’ve been waiting for
  • Personalized game play.  The game play and the outcomes for each of the characters changes depending upon which choices you make throughout the game. Many of these choices determine who lives and who dies!
  • Fear factors aplenty! There are moments where it seems things have been quiet for too long and it builds up the player’s anticipation for the next scare
  • Many special features can be unlocked
  • No complicated combat systems. Many times a player uses reaction time or simple aim and click controls
  • Strong character development
  • Great story with great scenery

Bad:

  • The controls are mega clunky at times making it inconvenient to maneuver the character around
  • It is difficult to know when exactly the game auto-saves, so when you start the game up again you may have to replay a small portion of the episode you were on
  • Short game

One of my negatives on this game (short game) can actually be seen as a positive. I beat this game in about five and a half hours and I probably could have beaten it in a shorter amount of time. That being said, because of how short this game is it makes it feel more like a movie rather than a long game and this makes it easier to play through the game multiple times. I can definitely see myself playing through this game again a second, maybe even third time. Check out the Until Dawn trailer below:



I hope to see more horror games like this as well as other genres using this “choose your own adventure” method.

Until next time, stay nerdy!

~Jaime


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