First Impressions of Until Dawn (PS4 Exclusive)

Today I got a quick preview of Until Dawn, an adventure survival horror video game developed by Supermassive games, exclusively for the PlayStation 4. Inspired by classic slasher films like Friday the 13th and Scream, Until Dawn was written in collaboration with famed horror writers and directors Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick. So you can expect a gripping tale filled with gory scenes and jump scares.

Set in a remote mountain getaway, 8 friends have gathered to commemorate the 1st anniversary of missing twin sisters, Beth and Hannah Washington. The sisters went missing on that very mountain. Things soon turn sinister and they realise that they are not alone… I’ve always wondered why teens never learn that isolated cabin in the mountains and missing friends do not a great cocktail make. Have you never seen any slasher flick in the last 20 years or so?

Playing Until Dawn, you get to control all 8 friends and your decisions define the relationship between the characters through dialogue and the quick time events causing a “ butterfly effect”. Your decision dictates who remain as friends and who lives or dies. I really like the concept and each decision is supposed to send you on a different branch. I like the fact that decisions and mistakes would result in either characters falling in love or arriving a little too late to save someone. The game continues after a death of a character and brings in new changes to the other characters tale. However, we’re still not sure how many characters can die for you to reach endgame.

A very interesting aspect of Until Dawn is that the game tailors to your fears. How? Well you meet the Analyst, played by Peter Stormare, who asks you a series of questions to build a personal fear profile. This information is then used to populate the game with your fears… like spiders, snakes, scarecrows or clowns!

Built on an evolved Killzone Shadowfall engine, the game run at a smooth 1080p/60 fps. Killzone Shadowfall has incredible graphics but with an evolved engine, Until Dawn looks much more realistic and detailed. The characters look like their real life counter parts (E.g. Hayden Panettiere, Rami Malek and Ella Lentini) and the environment pops realisticaly with abundant textures.

Ever wondered what you look like when you’re startled? Well now you can. As you play through the game (with the PlayStation camera connected) your reactions get recorded, as “cheap shots”, at specific instances (jump scares), which you can then share to your social media using the share functionality on the DualShock 4 controller. It’s a fun feature to capture the reactions of your family and friends, share it and cherish their moment of humiliation.

Will you be a kind and helpful player or a selfish and cruel one? How many lives would you save or rather take? Can you survive Until Dawn with a psychotic serial killer on the loose? Well I guess I’ll find out once it’s released.

Until Dawn looks really promising from what I’ve seen so far, but it remains to be seen if the story can keep me engaged (I believe there are 10 chapters – each plays about an hour long). The introduction of the personal fear profile and the “cheap shots” look like very interesting features. At the very least it looks like it’s got good party game potential where a bunch of friends get to choose what decisions to make and see how it pans out.

Until Dawn will be available for the PS4 on 25 August 2015 at SGD69.90 (shelves) or at SGD$62.00 (downloaded – which includes an extra 25-min of gameplay).