Until Dawn

Review: Until Dawn

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Until Dawn has been my surprise of the summer, the barren wasteland of releases during this time period can be a massive downer for gamers. Luckily, Supermassive Games has closed off August with its highly ambitious and refreshing take on survival horror games.

“When eight friends become trapped on a remote mountain getaway, it falls on you, the player, to make snap decisions that determine who survives Until Dawn. Every choice you make in your terrifying search for answers – even seemingly trivial – will carve out your unique story. And remember, there is only one save file for each playthrough so you can’t go back and change your decisions!”


The description sums out the experience exactly as described, and boy, what a thrill the experience was. I’ve enjoyed playing Until Dawn is one of the most innovative, engaging, profound, and frightening survival horror experiences.

To get this comparison out of the way, yes, there are similar elements found in Heavy Rain with the QTE prompts and the way the player interacts with the environment; that being said, this design decision makes sense regarding the story being told. This works, and the comparison is just that, a comparison Until Dawn is vastly different in most regards.

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I haven’t followed the trail of promotion this title was being given (nor has it been heavily marketed from Sony, like, at all) aside from what I would end up posting on Console Creatures.  I’m glad I kept my distance and allowed myself to not know too much about it going in, to be honest, because this level of knowledge about Until Dawn made me enjoy it that much more.

My initial playthrough clocked in at eight and a half hours with much exploring, trying to collect all I could. My second playthrough has been steady for six hours, yet I want more of this world; I need to learn everything I can because I feel drawn to what’s hidden here.

Until Dawn runs on a modified version of Umbra 3, which also powered the launch title Killzone: Shadow Fall in 2013; this modified engine is beautiful and oozes detail through the scenery, atmosphere and character models. Everyone in the group looks and feels natural, the cabin and surrounding area are creepy as can be, and just about everything else has a high level of polish.

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Speaking of the characters, each one of these people comes into their own and shines, starting out a cliché from a horror movie and completely surpassing any expectation I had regarding their development.

The main cast is excellent, and Peter Storemare plays a secondary role as Dr. Hill, a psychiatrist who breaks up the pacing between chapters. While he questions your fears and thinking patterns, add little to the story aside from the beginning chapters.

Supermassive’s Butterfly Effect system is crazy and works; this is a game where my choices have severe repercussions that I can’t go back on because I wouldn’t say I liked the outcome. The decisions made will echo until the end, be they small or big; the decisions are yours to make your life easier in the game.

Until Dawn succeeds as a horror game, time and time again, I found myself jumping scared from my seat. The story itself is far more ambitious than I thought it would be and took a turn upward after the whole picture came into play. The scare tactic in each chapter did a number on me late at night with my headphones plugged in and no one around.

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The death sequences encountered are detailed and vomit-inducing, and I wouldn’t want them any other way. The urgency of the events that lead to these sequences makes the deaths much worse when you know you could have prevented the death had you gone left instead of right or followed the footsteps instead of the sounds. Your chilling world has no room for mistakes, and you’ll learn that quickly or perish like your friends.

Suppose you’re like me or just about anyone else who has seen a horror movie at one point or another and has reacted like a madman screaming advice at the TV, then Until Dawn is right up your alley. Only this time, you’re actively controlling their actions. You can act out the scenario of a psycho chasing you with a level head and proper tools with a touch of a button.


Jason Graves helms the soundtrack for Until Dawn, and his experience with franchises like Dead Space, The Order: 1886, and Fear and Tomb Raider makes his composing style fit like a glove. The man knows how to work an atmosphere and make the hairs on anyone’s neck chill with a sense of being uncomfortable.

The tense and pulsating soundtrack work in tandem with the atmosphere set by Supermassive Games to offer a stunning setting. The use of camera angles is some of the best I’ve seen, adding a seemingly creepy level to otherwise normal rooms.

Until Dawn adds layer upon layer as the episode count goes up and does a surprisingly excellent job of keeping the momentum going until the end. The ending works, but I felt so much tension and build-up to those final moments for the game to end. I don’t necessarily hate it, but I felt more closure was needed after everything I had witnessed.


Until Dawn is one of the best gems of this generation thus far; coming off my first playthrough, I knew Supermassive Games had a winner on their hands. Initially, a PlayStation 3 Move game and numerous design changes and delays leading to a longer development cycle, I think, worked in favour of everything. There isn’t anything out there right now in the entertainment world like Until Dawn. The world and atmosphere will pull you in and keep you on the edge of your seat until the credits roll; jump scares be damned, this title is the perfect way to end the summer.

Until Dawn











  • The world is creepy, atmospheric
  • Choices hold weight to them
  • The characters are interesting
  • Chilling soundtrack
  • The death scenes


  • Dr. Hill
  • Underused characters left as DLC
  • Motion controls felt wonky