Until dawn, developed by Supermassive Games (2015).
Score: A pleasant surprise.
I got my hands on this hoping to kill some time until Fallout 4 comes out, but I was genuinely surprised by its quality. Until dawn is a QTE-driven interactive drama survival horror where most of its value is replayability, since the player’s choices greatly affect the outcome of the story. There are potentially hundreds of linear combinations of events at the end of the game, depending on dialogue choices and QTEs.
Until dawn tells the story of eight teenagers who reunite in a mountain lodge to commemorate the unfortunate death of two of their friends who went missing the previous year after a prank went horribly wrong. The first half of it is more heavily-laden with B-series horror flick clichés, with a dark and noisy cabin up in the mountains and a maniac stalking the horny teenagers. The second half veers into the territory of supernatural horror and drops the spooks and cheesiness altogether. Apparently I’m the only one that likes the change, since most reviews disliked the twist, but for me it was what changed a mediocre, disjointed effort into something more original and enjoyable.
The graphics and development are nice, though with some flaws, like when the characters’ eyes get strong light on them and it looks like they have cataracts and the teeth are too prominent and the joints look too dark, so it seems like they’ve been munching on black liquorice or something. The character design could have been much better. Their physiognomy is just too similar, and in the first playthrough it’s difficult to distinguish the generic skinny blonde white girl with braids from the generic skinny blonde white girl with her hair up and the generic skinny redhead white girl with a beanie. With the boys it’s the white jock, the black jock, the nerd and the host. Their conversations are so idiotic that I couldn’t care less if they all died, but fortunately the story makes up for them.
As for the gameplay, the controls and camera angles are a bit clunky but I’ve seen worse. The only extras to the story are the collectibles, which thankfully are not brain-racking (looking at you, fucking coffee thermos from Alan Wake). The addition of Dr. Hill, which integrates gameplay customisation into the gameplay itself is a quite interesting mechanic. It’s quite short, about 9 hours per playthrough, but you will want to replay it to save them all or kill them all. Or both.
All in all, not the game of your life but you’ll have a nice time playing. A decent new title in the line of interactive dramas, not so much of survival horror games.