Until Dawn Is Using the Butterfly Effect To Make You Dread Every Decision
Horror Reinvented. That’s what Until Dawn claims to be which is a big given that there’s a new horror game each month claiming to be the next best thing. Most aren’t. So what makes Until Dawn special?
Name: Until Dawn
Developers: SuperMassive Games
Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: 28 Aug 2015
The first thing to note is those two numbers up top. Full price is a hard ask for a horror game given that most weigh in at a lower price. The last major survival horror that cost full price was Alien: Isolation which, while good, overstayed its welcome a little.
Until Dawn has a lot to prove then. Perhaps more so because it’s one of those darn console exclusives.
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The premise is about as textbook as they come. Eight friends find themselves trapped on a remote mountain retreat, weird things start happening, hi-jinx ensue. You know how this story goes. With SuperMassive’s modest body of work there’s not much to instill faith in gamers. This makes it all the more intriguing that Until Dawn has grabbed the attention of so many. Sure, plenty of it is down to marketing on Sony’s part but there does seem to genuinely be something there.
Until Dawn boasts some good talent with the likes of Hayden Panettiere (Heroes) providing human talent and Killzone: Shadow Fall’s Umbra Engine providing graphical talent.
The game is designed with a hard auto-save system such that players can’t reload previous save files. Why? Because this is one of those games where you’ll have to make hard choices under duress. Snap decisions don’t always translate to good decisions so there’s likely to be some regrets. Until Dawn will have repercussions for choices both big and small with the possibility of anywhere from all eight to none of the hapless group dying at the hands of the serial killer who happens to be on the loose. Do the math and that tallies up to thousands of possible outcomes.
One of the core systems underpinning Until Dawn is the Butterfly Effect Interface which is supposed to make even the smallest decisions have snowballing repercussions. How far those ripples will stretch or how big the ripple will be from any given action remains to be seen. Will eating an apple eventually cause Matt to need to take a dump, leaving him exposed to the killer. The idea at any rate is to blur the line between right and wrong choices.
You can guarantee that by making a few bad calls early on players will have to sacrifice members of the party later in order to protect the many.
Each playthrough is intended to last around nine hours which in and of itself is a solid chunk of time. What’s more intriguing is that SuperMassive has designed the game to be played multiple times with players making different choices. The developer believes that a single playthrough is not enough to grasp the true nature of what happened up on the mountain so it will be necessary to make different choices, explore different paths in order to gather all the pieces.
There isn’t a great deal more to say about Until Dawn.
Suspected Selling Points
- Excellent visuals
- Hollywood cast
- Interesting Butterfly Effect Interface branching narrative
- SuperMassive is an unproven developer
- The Butterfly Effect Interface may not work as advertised
- Survival horror is a tricky genre to get right
As with many promising survival horror titles Until Dawn could go either way. Gameplay walkthroughs have made it look great but it could be a different story in the long run. All signs point to Until Dawn being something good but with horror being a tough genre to crack it’s wise to wait until reviews and Let’s Plays drop.