Developer: Supermassive Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Time to beat the Story: 5-7 hours
Time to Platinum Trophy: ~15 hours
Platinum Trophy Difficulty: 2/10
Chapter Select: Yes, after beating the story
Release Date: August 25, 2015
ESRB: Mature / PEGI 18
Players: 1 (Single Player only)
Available Platforms: PS4
Genre: Survival Horror, Adventure
Until Dawn is a very cinematic experience – similar to the likes of Heavy Rain, Beyond Two Souls or The Order 1886. It has a lot of cutscenes with QTEs and also gameplay where you can take control of the characters and explore the areas yourself. The cutscene/gameplay ratio feels just right for this type of game, it’s nicely balanced.
My first playthrough took me 5 hours and 30 minutes and it was a great experience. The story is well crafted. It’s exciting, intriguing and intense. The cast seems particularly well chosen and each character feels so unique. It’s interesting to learn more about the characters and their relationship. What I liked most, however, is how absolutely unpredictable the story is. But is it really that scary? It does have a spooky atmosphere from start to end, but I never felt scared. If you watch a lot of horror movies you probably won’t get scared either. There have been several moments though where I shouted „What the ****“ or simply laughed about one of the conversations. I absolutely loved those moments. Whether it was because of a really brutal kill or an absolutely unpredictable twist in the story. It’s great when games have such memorable moments.
The story takes 5 hours if you ignore collectibles, 6 hours if you use a collectible guide and pick everything up, 7 hours if you look for everything yourself and take the time to read all clues.
The clues and totems actually provide useful background information and can also reveal a possible future to you. So unlike other games they have some use and can help you prevent a character’s death.
I especially liked the little talks with the “Analyst” in between episodes (there are 10 episodes and a prologue). He makes you feel very personally involved in the game and this was perfectly integrated into the main story.
The graphics are good. Most of it is really dark, so you can’t see much anyway. But what stands out are the photo-realistic character designs. During my 2 playthroughs I didn’t encounter any game crashes or bugs of any kind. There was one very minor lag where the game froze for half a second, but that was an isolated incident. The frame rate is very consistent as well. Music and sound effects were very fitting and definitely helped to set the mood. So all in all, it was very well done from a technical standpoint.
But what does the game actually consist of?
There are only 3 things to do in this game: beat the story, unlock different “endings”, get all 107 collectibles.
“Endings” might not be the correct word though. Strictly speaking there is only 1 ending, but many different “outcomes”. There are 8 characters and any number or any combination of them can survive. But the ending scene will always be the same and two of the characters cannot die until the very end. This game was believed to have so many different endings, but in truth it always comes down to the exact same QTEs and cutscenes with the same two characters in the end.
There is good replay value for a second playthrough. In fact, after my first run I immediately wanted to start the next playthrough and choose the opposite options. What I found, however, was that most of my decisions didn’t even matter. I always got to the same main areas and the story was fairly much the same, only some dialogues and side areas changed. There are very limited opportunities for each character to die. It wasn’t hard to make everyone survive until the end. The game is perfect for two playthroughs, but after that there’s not much left to do. What I find a bit sad, is that the developers made all cutscenes unskippable and all the characters are walking super slowly. You immediately get the feeling they were trying to stretch out the story length with this. On the first playthrough I never wanted to skip a cutscene, that would be dumb. But on the second playthrough so many dialogues repeat themselves and you get a bit bored at times. Looking for collectibles feels very tedious because the characters are walking slower than a 90-year old (and it doesn’t make sense that you cannot run in a horror game).
All in all, it was a satisfying experience. But the lack of content begs the question if this game is worth the full price. I would recommend renting it for a weekend.
This is Great:
+ Unpredictable, intense story
+ Great cast and photo-realistic character designs
+ Music and sound effects very well integrated
Not so Great:
– Relatively short story
– Unskippable cutscenes make it feel dragged out in subsequent playthroughs (many dialogues repeat themselves)
– Characters are walking very slowly, making it unnecessarily tedious to look for clues and totems
Until Dawn’s story isn’t particularly long. Unskippable Cutscenes and characters walking very slowly make it feel dragged out in subsequent playthroughs and a lot of things will repeat themselves. All in all, it was a good experience for me though and I enjoyed it. Great actors, great writing, great graphics, great sound, great setting and a spooky atmopshere. I recommend this game, but it might be better to rent than to buy due to the relatively short story length. If you are a trophy hunter you will be happy with this short and easy platinum trophy.