When eight friends become trapped on a remote mountain getaway gone wrong, things quickly turn sinister and they start to suspect they aren’t alone. Every choice the player makes while playing as each of the eight friends, even the seemingly trivial ones will carve out a unique story. The player’s actions alone determine who survives until dawn.
Broken into ten chapters, you are put in control of each of the teens as the game progresses. Throughout the storyline you are asked to make decisions on everything from how the characters answer a question through to whether they run or hide when being chased. With each decision having a “butterfly effect”, even things as basic as answering sarcastically to a question can have a greater consequence as the game progresses.
When it comes to gameplay, Until Dawn is an unusual game in the time of titles with oversized sanbox maps. As while games such as Grand Theft Auto 5 and the upcoming installment of Metal Gear Solid all rely on free roaming as a way of improved gameplay, Until Dawn relies on it’s intricate storyline to provide entertainment. Throughout the game you are restricted to a set area in each scene, funneled through checkpoints. Most of these are generally being told to reach a certain destination (with the odd mashing of buttons as well).
“We wanted to play with the conventions of horror,” says Larry Fassenden, one of the writers behind Until Dawn. “The decision making is there to challenge the user – whether it’s how to answer a question or if you should go into the basement, the whole idea is you never know what to expect and each decision is your own. Maybe you should go into the basement, maybe that’s the right thing to do. Ultimately each decision has an impact, so if you decide to live your life vicariously as a dick then it will end up effecting the relationship between the characters.”
This decision-based gameplay is what makes Until Dawn a hit. As throughout the game you are given a variance of outcomes, all of which end up with a different ending. If you can make it through the night, that is.