– Karly Taylor
I don’t have the words in my limited English vocabulary to fully express how much I loved Until Dawn. I followed its progress from the time it was initially a first person PlayStation 3 game, to the gorgeous cinematic delight it’s become. The dramatic change became obvious in its E3 reveal last year, showcasing the intense SAW-like sequence between two of the eight ultra realistic looking main characters.
Until Dawn, drawing comparison from games like Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls, and inspiration from movies like The Shining and Psycho, is a horror nerd’s wet dream. It’s about as cliche horror as you can get. A group of teens, following a tragedy, decide to spend a weekend in a remote cabin in the woods without adult supervision, who amidst their partying, find themselves being stalked and falling victim one by one to a malevolent force with designs on their lives.
Sound familiar? Of course it does. It’s basically the plot to every Friday the 13th movie ever. I’m tempted to start talking about Scream‘s golden rules for surviving a horror movie, but truthfully, that sort of thing won’t save you in Until Dawn. Anyone can die in this title. How that’s decided is ultimately up to you and the choices you make throughout the game. Better familiarise yourself with the butterfly effect for this one.
Tip Number One – It’s Not Okay To Screw Up.
Everything in life is a learning curve – video games are no exception. If you’re lucky, you had understanding parents as you grew up, who reinforced the “everyone makes mistakes,” mentality in you. And video games always have a “Game Over – Retry?” screen following a fatal mistake in gameplay, so it’s okay to screw up – except when it isn’t. Until Dawn doesn’t let you retry, whether its a poorly picked dialogue choice or a wrong turn taken. Make every decision count because there are no do overs. If your favourite character dies, bad luck. Sorry, man!
Tip Number Two – Don’t Be Afraid To Explore, Just Don’t Be Stupid.
Common sense is key here. If you’ve seen a horror movie (and who hasn’t?) you’ve likely been frustrated at one time or another with some of the obviously stupid, rookie league decisions the characters have made. Splitting up? Running upstairs when the killer is in pursuit? Come on guys. Throughout the game, you will come across various collectible items that will add to and enhance the story you’re playing. A lot of these won’t be immediately obvious, so you’ll have to venture off the beaten path to find them. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, fortune favours the bold, etc. but something Until Dawn teaches you is that sometimes doing nothing is the best choice. Deviating from your path can have disastrous consequences. Stay smart.
Tip Number Three – Go, Go, Go!
QTE is a big part of this game. You have your calm moments, but those are few and far between, and become almost non-existent in later chapters. You have to constantly pay attention to what is going on, and be alert and ready to mash those buttons that the game wants you to. It could mean the difference between life or death. Don’t get me wrong, if you miss one, it doesn’t mean you die by default. This game isn’t Dark Souls: The Interactive Teen Movie. But like I said, always pay attention to what is happening. What kind of situation is your character in? Missing a QTE isn’t anything to lose your head over… until it is.
Tip Number Four – Keep Your Friends Close.
There are more than a handful of moral dilemmas in Until Dawn. In an effort to stay out of spoiler territory, I won’t divulge exactly what they are, but you’ll have your work cut out for you if you want to keep everyone happy. Pay close attention to the relationships between the characters, and how they evolve/devolve based on the choices you make. If you tried to shoot your friend in the face, don’t expect them to come to your rescue later. United we stand, shot in the face we fall.
Tip Number Five – Have Fun.
Super cliche way to end this short list, I know, but majority of the fun in this game – especially on the first playthrough – comes from not knowing how the decisions you make (whether they’re choices you would make yourself or what you believe suits the personality of the character you’re playing) will affect the outcome of the story. There is a lot of fear – and joy – in the unknown. Stressing about outcomes is better saved for subsequent playthroughs. Good luck in your eight hour struggle to survive until dawn!