Put down the popcorn and pick up a controller
PS3 exclusive Heavy Rain has a lot of problems, such as it being a B-movie thriller that mistakenly thinks it's high art. After playing a brief section of PS4 exclusive Until Dawn, I can say this game makes no such presumptions. Until Dawn is a slasher movie translated into game form, with cheap scares, angsty teens, masked killers, and gory action you expect from Friday The 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. And the game wears its tropes with pride.
Developed by Supermassive Games, Until Dawn takes place over one hellish night as eight young people head to a remote cabin in the mountains for a party on the one-year anniversary of their friend's death. One by one they're being picked off by a masked killer, and you continually swap between the many young kids searching for clues to the killer's identity. In my brief time as Ashley and Chris, a bickering pair exploring an abandoned hotel, the two push past creepy doors to come face to face with easy (yet effective) scares. Seeing Ashley hide from her masked stalker doesn't feel all that novel, but as someone that stayed up all night watching a marathon of Halloween films, it did feel familiar in a pleasing way.
Of course, Until Dawn's interactivity and branching paths offer players something the films never could, and what happens to the eight would-be survivors is up to you. Through a mix of light motion controls and timed choices, you slowly shape the narrative as you go in unexpected ways. My demo ended with a pretty game-altering twist for Chris and Ashley, making me wonder just how many of these Until Dawn has up its sleeve, and how different everyone's experiences will be in the end. The 2015 release may not redefine emotional storytelling in gaming, but there's an undeniable art to creating tension and horror in fiction, and it's one Until Dawn has clearly studied well.
Read on for more info and screens from the game If you dare! Muahahahaha!
"Do you just hear that?" Oh it's probably just the wind, Ashley. Or that masked guy out to kill you.
Ashley gets a glimpse of the killer by choosing to head right instead of left at a crucial moment.
Chris doesn't believe in ghosts or other horror junk, which likely means Chris won't last long.
Hardly the first corpse Ashley and Chris have seen tonight.
Until Dawn amps up the atmosphere through inventive camera angles like these.
The demo ends with Chris making a life or death choice using that gun. Which will you choose?