Gaming Reviews, News, Tips and More.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Until Dawn Is a Horror Game Where Everyone Can Die

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

It may have been a room full of overworked, stressed and irritable journalists, but Until Dawn did something special when I went to see it at Gamescom: it made people jump, it made one woman scream and it made everyone laugh nervously and chatter about what they'd just seen happen.

This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK.

For the record, that's not the usual sort of reaction you see from a game being demoed to a group – especially not in Europe. So it's clear from first (re-)sight that Until Dawn is getting the 'horror' bit down pat.

Supermassive is the six-year-old indie studio that has been helping out with Sony projects for years – Tumble on Move was great, Jurassic Encounter has been used to show off the Morpheus VR headset and the plethora of add-on content packs forLittleBigPlanet from the Supermassive team never fails to impress.

But the original reveal of Until Dawn showed us a Move-controlled first-person horror game. It got people talking, but it didn't make people want it there and then. So Supermassive went back to the drawing board. "Forget everything you know aboutUntil Dawn", executive producer Pete Samuels told us.

The new Until Dawn sees eight friends trapped in a your very own horror movie, taking place in a cinematic, third-person survival horror title. That's with the emphasis on both survival and horror. Or not, depending on how you play it, because there's every chance none of the eight characters you control will survive.

One playthrough of Until Dawn will take approximately nine hours, according to Samuels. So obviously you'll want to replay it in order to see all of the possible outcomes and changes that can be seen thanks to the 'butterfly effect' system the game uses.

Except we're talking millions of tiny actions, thousands of separate paths that can be taken and hundreds of variations on the ending you see. You could see it all theoretically, but it would take a long time.

Which is why Supermassive is pushing their thinking that Until Dawn is 'your story' – and thanks to "years of careful design and redesign", again stated by Samuels, there should be a subtlety to your interactions with the world that you might not notice, but can have huge effects on the overall story.

Another way the story is affected is through direct decisions the player has to make: do you follow a friend through a door, or split off from him 'for a sec' to check out some movement ahead? Do you shoot her or yourself to save the other?

Wait, that escalated quickly. Safe to say, the decisions you take on aren't simple; they're in the Walking Dead realm of 'oh god no that's just unfair please don't make me choose one of those'.

And Supermassive aims to make you care even more about the decisions thanks to its writing, acting and the quality of visuals on show. It's hard to get a real feel for those first two points from a short demo, but it certainly looked lovely and had some fine facial animation.

After two years of silence it's good to see Until Dawn reappear, and it looks like the time being remade has benefitted the game a great deal. It doesn't look to be full of particularly original ideas – and the short section shown relied a fair bit on jump-scares – but if they're done well throughout, Until Dawn could be a very good, straightforward survival horror title with some truly interesting ideas behind it.