From the opening scene in Until Dawn and the credits which include Amy Van Roekel's rendition of Dock Boggs' old-time track 'O Death', players will be on tenterhooks waiting for the next big scare in a game which challenges you to be honest with yourself, face your fears and do everything possible to ensure the safety of eight characters you'll either love or loathe.
You're instantly introduced to the butterfly effect which will have a huge standing over how your game will play out. There are many different paths your journey could take, with most decisions and actions you choose having a profound effect on what will happen in the future. Supermassive Games utilise this alongside heavy cinematic features and brilliant motion capture to deliver a stellar experience (though the 'Previously on Until Dawn' sections are given a little TOO often). It is for the most-part an incredible way of storytelling and ensuring your consumer comes back for more after their first playthrough, and one that should be utilised more often.
There are many horror movie stereotypes included in Until Dawn, and the first notably apparent one would be the eight people you take control of throughout the 10 hours or so gameplay. We have the jock in Mike, the main girl in Sam, the bitch in Emily, the geek in Chris and so on. Voice acting comes from the likes of Hayden Panettiere, Brett Dalton and more, and though sometimes the script is hugely cheesy and a little bit wooden (you can't help wonder whether this is deliberate so as to poke fun at the horror genre itself), the talent does the very best they can with the material and deliver it perfectly.
Then there's the setting; an isolated mountain in which the group of young adolescents have decided to go back to on the one year anniversary of the disappearance of two of their friends. They'll be playing house in a woodland cabin amongst the snow, but of course, they won't be as alone as they had hoped, and their first night of partying, sex and questionable antics will certainly not be going to plan.
Jump scares come in abundance with a musical score that manages to ramp up the tension, and though your every instinct will be telling you to put down the controller and never play Until Dawn again, the lure is just too much for horror junkies who get their kicks from being terrified, and that's what makes this title so successful.
These scares may become a reliance at times but after a couple of hours gameplay you'll be given less warning about when to expect them. Combining the obvious with the out-of-the-blue jumps is a genius move and one that should be respected by any fan of the genre.
Though gamers' main priority is staying alive, it should be said that it pays off to search every nook and cranny possible. Totems are scattered throughout the game to give glimpses of what may happen based on decisions the player makes, and the Guidance Totems in particular should help those who would struggle without them to keep everybody alive. There are also clues in regards to the disappearance which occured the year before, the mystery man who is plaguing the lives of the teens and more which, when all put together mean you can draw your own conclusions about what is going on before the game offers you the truth on a platter.
Until Dawn was and is a game that continues to play on my mind long after the final credits rolled. I managed to keep just three of my eight characters breathing when all was said and done, and it hurt! I cared about at least two of them who had passed and kicked myself for making mistakes when all the warning signs were there. With replayability that could far extend the 10 hours gameplay the story contains, I'm sure it's one I'm going to be going back to in a bid to fix my mistakes and come out with a far happier outcome.
Until Dawn is available now exclusively on PlayStation 4.