Until Dawn

An Uncut Journey Through Chapter 3
by Bryan Vore on Aug 16, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Supermassive Games
Rating: Mature
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3

Developer Supermassive Games offered an extended demo of Until Dawn and we came away pleasantly surprised.

The game follows eight different teens on a classically styled horror tale designed around the Move controller. A Hollywood horror writer is also involved, but the team is keeping his or her identity a secret for now.

The live demo started on a snowy night as lusty Jessica and Michael departed a ski lodge where the rest of the characters are staying to sneak off to a remote cabin and get it on. Players control Michael from a first-person perspective and hold the Move controller like the in-game flashlight. Movement is not technically on rails as you look around by pointing the remote and move by pulling the trigger (squeezing it more for a faster pace), but there sure are a lot of narrow paths that keep you on track.

“I hope the cabin has room service,” Jessica says as they walk along the snowy path. “I could so totally go for a triple mocha cappuccino right now.”  Unfortunately, it appears she can’t be killed instantly. Alas, in the genre tradition, you’re not supposed to like everyone in the movie.

They get to a locked gate and look around for a way through. Michael finds a generator in a nearby shed and the controls transfer into interactive mode. Here you control his hands directly to press the primer button and pull the cord to start it up. The electric lock opens easily now and they move through the gate.

They come across an old mine and Michael completes a switch puzzle by yanking a few levers to get inside. They find some strange symbols, a totem pole, and what looks like a recently used cigar.

Heading back outside, they come upon a fallen tree that blocks their path. Jessica climbs over it to the other side and the player follows. When Michael gets to the other side, Jessica is nowhere to be seen. After calling her name and wandering for a bit he sees a mining vehicles with a smiley face drawn on its window in the ice. He wipes it away and a Jason-esque hockey mask pops into view. He moves on and comes across a boulder with a deer skull on top. Jessica jumps out to scare him. As she laughs at his startled reaction, the view pulls out to some creepy creature that is watching them.
Michael hands over the flashlight and players take control of Jessica. As they move along a buck jumps out of the woods in front of Jessica and she screams. They hear a strange noise off in the distance and eventually come across what seems to be the same buck bleeding and dying in the middle of the path. They take a closer look and it gets violently jerked into the woods. The couple decides it’s time to book it and sprint toward the cabin.

Once inside, they lock up and the creature is shown watching them through the windows. Michael takes control again and goes searching the place to figure out how to get the gas fireplace turned on. He blows the fuse so electric lights aren’t an option. He finds scraps of paper scattered around a room and upon piecing them together discovers a list with all of his friends’ names on it. In another room he picks up a chisel and finds the lever that will turn on the gas to the fireplace.

With the place warming up Jessica gets back in the mood and lights a few candles. Just when it seems like everything’s going okay, she realizes she lost her cell phone. Michael manages to convince her to let it go until tomorrow when they can look for it in the light of day. He closes all the shutters for a little privacy and busts a lock with the chisel to score a shotgun. You never know when you’re going to need one, right? He moves back to the couch and the player then unzips Jessica’s jacket in first person. They start making out and hear a noise by the window. It turns out to be just a tree branch. They start again and there’s another noise in the back of the cabin.

Michael checks it out and it looks like someone has thrown Jessica’s missing cell phone through the window. Jessica thinks it’s their friends playing a prank and whips open the front door in her underwear shouting outside that they should leave them alone so they can get down to business. She slams the door and utters something like, “Now where were we…” before getting yanked out of the small window in the door by an unseen force.

Michael grabs the shotgun and blows open the door shouting after this lady friend. A trail of blood leads out into the woods and he dashes out into the storm half dressed. He comes upon a ghost mining town as Jessica’s screams echo in the night. The blood leads him into an abandoned mineshaft. He follows her voice through the hallways and comes to a larger room with a lift in the middle of it. He pulls the handle to bring it up and Jessica’s dead body rises into view. The camera pulls out to creature vision once more and it sneaks up on Michael as he goes hysterical. He turns around at the last second and screams as the creature overtakes him.

There’s no way to know right now if Until Dawn is going to reinvent the gaming horror genre by mining horror movie clichés, but I’ve got high hopes that it can outdo previous motion scare flops like JU-ON: The Grudge on Wii and Rise of Nightmares on Kinect. After the demo, team members from Supermassive explained that players can interact with or ignore most of the extra exploratory tasks, though thorough players will unravel the mystery earlier in the story. The way you play also affects who dies and when. Apparently, both Jessica and Michael could have survived this chapter. In fact, they said that all of the playable characters can survive the whole game before adding “kind of” at the end. They also confirmed that the game will have multiple endings depending on your choices.

Until Dawn will be frightening Move owners sometime in 2013.

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Until Dawn

PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3
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