Until Dawn - New Game of the Day #65
- Until Dawn
- Supermassive Games
- PlayStation Move
- New Game Of The Day
UNTIL DAWN – NEW GAME OF THE DAY #65
What? A PS3-exclusive Move-enabled teen horror
Where? PS3, obviously
A remote cabin in the woods… You’d think by now, after the success of late-90’s horror franchises like Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Urban Legend, teenagers would be automatically, inherently adverse to travelling to secluded getaways for any length of time. Hell, if they include a dudebro jock, a nervous geek and a slutty head cheerleader in their little group, they are actually asking, nay begging, to be mutilated by some (delete as appropriate) insane / vengeful / mythical fisherman / fellow student / previous killer’s offspring.
The group of scythe-ready brats in Supermassive Games’ Until Dawn certainly tick all the boxes for nutter-fodder, as they travel to an isolated wood-built cabin deep in the woods on the anniversary of their friend’s disappearance in the same area. They might as well wear bright neon signs saying “Kill me, for I am dumb”. But – and it’s an important but – this is entirely intentional. Supermassive Games wear their influences proudly on their blood-spattered sleeves, having crafted a game absolutely, 100% intended to riff off of all those stilton-coated ham-fests that we (that is, those of us of a certain age) remember fondly from our own teenage years.
The set-up is a familiar one, yes, but the method of execution is pretty original. Where Until Dawn could have been presented as yet another first person shooter or third-person adventure a la the rather excellent Alan Wake, the decision to restrict all control to the Move wand is a stroke of genius. It puts you directly in the characters’ unenviable shoes, and the apparent lack of an intrusive HUD ensures your total immersion in the creepy, Hollywood-horror atmosphere.
Most of the time the Move controller will act as your torch, unless you approach a context sensitive object in which case its functionality will change accordingly. Visual clues combine with audio cues from your companions to help you unravel the mystery, keeping handholding to a minimum. Sometimes you’ll be all alone in the dark, whilst at other times you’ll be joined by one or several other soon-to-be dead teens. Your actions throughout the story dictate the paths along which it branches, and as you’ll be sporadically body-hopping between all eight you’ll get the chance to control their fates directly – and the ending will change depending on your choices. Hey, it may even be possible to save the dudebro and slapper, who knows?
One thing that’s certain is that Until Dawn is a fairly unique premise for a videogame – there really aren’t many titles that use those teen slasher movies as not only an influence but as a universe in which to ground their fiction. This is a world where teenage sex is punishable by a sudden gruesome death, where uttering the immortal words “I’ll be right back” really is signing a death warrant, where a car will never start first time during a crisis and where everyone chooses to stand in front of a convenient window during a spate of grizzly murders.
Supermassive Games know all of these clichés as well as we do. They’ve tutted at them, shaken their heads at the stupidity of the pre-college human kebabs onscreen and occasionally covered their eyes with a pillow – they know them all well enough to understand that at one point or another, every cliché was simply a tradition, a way of doing things that was successful and popular because it worked. Transporting such tropes to console won’t revolutionise the genre the way Kevin Williamson’s Scream did, but it will at least present those clichés in a new light – and as they say, a change is as good as a murder-fest.
Judging from the trailer, dialogue is as cheesy as it should be, the gameworld is as dark and shadow-draped as you’d expect and the deaths will be as gruesome as the sexually-repressed 15-year-old in you needs them to be. We’ve got to be honest, we’re looking forward to this one.
Developer Legacy: Supermassive Games are a British independent development studio based in Guildford, UK. Their first release was the PS Move party title, Start the Party! In 2010, followed by Start the Party! Save the World! In 2011 and, earlier this year, the underwhelming Dr Who: The Eternity Clock. They have also contributed assets to the LittleBigPlanet series.
Predicted Interest: Surprisingly high. Supermassive Games know their way around a Move controller, and there is simply nothing like Until Dawn on the Playstation 3 at the moment. If Supermassive nail the pacing and ensure that our choices have strong enough consequences to the narrative, this could be potentially huge.
Words by Mick Fraser (Twitter: @Jedi_Beats_Tank)
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