|“||Eight friends. One killer. No escape.||”|
Until Dawn is an interactive drama survival horror adventure game developed by Supermassive Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 4, and was officially released worldwide in August 2015.
Until Dawn was initially going to be a PS3 release with Playstation Move compatibility, but an announcement in August 2014 stated that it would be a Playstation 4 exclusive.
In 2014, Josh and his twin sisters Hannah and Beth invite their collective friends (Sam, Mike, Jessica, Emily, Matt, Ashley, and Chris) to the Washington Lodge on Blackwood Mountain for their annual winter getaway.
During their celebrations, some of the group conspire to play a prank on Hannah, who's romantically interested in Mike. While Josh and Chris are passed out drunk in the kitchen, Mike invites Hannah up to his room. Unbeknownst to her, Jess, Emily, Matt and Ashley are hiding under the bed and in the closet. As Mike convinces her to start taking off her clothes, Jess accidentally reveals the presence of the group and by doing so, humiliates Hannah just as Sam bursts in to warn her, finding out that it was too late.
Hannah runs out of the lodge and into the snowy woods as everyone runs after her, trying to apologize and convince her to come back. Beth suddenly appears after hearing the commotion and asks them what happened. After learning that Hannah has been humiliated, she angrily tells them off and chases after Hannah. As Beth finds her way in the middle of the woods, she finally locates Hannah crying in the middle of a small clearing and comforts her. Suddenly, they hear a violent noise and run from an unseen pursuer.
As they're cornered at the edge of a cliff, Hannah slips and falls while holding Beth's hand, taking her down with her. Beth manages to hang onto a large branch at the edge of the cliff, holding Hannah with her other hand. An unknown man crouches by the edge of the cliff and extends his hand to help them, but Hannah and Beth both fall to their apparent deaths, never to be seen again.
|"Boom: Butterfly Effect." - Spoilers for Until Dawn lie below.|
On the one year anniversary of the disappearances of Hannah and Beth Washington, the remaining seven friends accept Josh's invitation back to the mountain and make their way there. As the group separates to partake in their own festivities, their seemingly idyllic getaway begins to quickly turn sinister in more ways than one.
Mike and Jessica head to a guest cabin for some alone time, and Jessica is kidnapped by an unknown creature. Mike chases after her in an attempt to save her. Depending on his choices during the chase, he either finds her dead or alive, but she disappears as the elevator she's laying on falls down the shaft. Mike then follows a mystery man whom he believes killed Jess to an abandoned Sanatorium, in which he explores and discovers information about a mining accident in 1952, which resulted in miners being trapped following a cave-in. Experiments and studies were done on the survivors by doctors at the Sanatorium, and a reporter ran into trouble trying to find out more on the cover-up.
Ashley, Chris, and Josh use a Ouija board to communicate with spirits and purportedly receive communication from either of the Washington twins. Josh, convinced that either Ashley or Chris are messing with him, storms off. Chris and Ashley investigate the clue that the spirit communicated, but Ashley and Chris are knocked unconscious by a mask-wearing psychopath and Ashley is kidnapped. Chris tracks her down and finds Ashley and Josh on the deadly end of a Jigsaw-like trap and must choose between saving one of them. His actions result in Josh being violently bisected by the trap, and afterwards a traumatized Chris and Ashley flee.
After learning of a maniac on the loose, Matt and Emily travel to the cable car station to get help but discover that the keys are missing. The couple then locates a radio tower and call the mountain rangers for help, who inform them that assistance won't arrive until dawn at the earliest. An unknown creature tries and fails to enter the tower and then causes the structure to collapse by cutting one of its cables, sending it toppling into the mines. In the chaos that follows, Matt discovers Emily in peril on the destroyed fire tower and is forced between trying to save her life or jumping to safety to save his own. Regardless of his decisions, Emily falls with the collapsing tower deeper into the mines. Matt either escapes and also ventures deeper into the mines, or will be killed by the creature.
Meanwhile, Sam is stalked by the psychopath and chased throughout the lodge and is either knocked unconscious or escapes into the killer's workshop. In continuous interludes, a psychiatrist, Dr. Hill, conducts an interview with an unseen figure, asking questions as the narrative progresses. In each interlude, Dr. Hill's office grows more grotesque and dilapidated, reflecting the choices the player makes during each interview interlude. Depending on the former choices of the player, Dr. Hill himself may change in appearance, becoming sickly and maimed. Eventually, he is revealed to simply be a hallucination in the psychopath's mind.
As more sinister events unfold, the psychopath captures Chris and Ashley and gives Chris the choice to sacrifice himself to spare Ashley or shoot her to save himself. After revealing the gun is unloaded, the psychopath reveals himself to be Josh, who faked his death and was playing a prank on the group the whole time in retaliation for the prank that indirectly caused Hannah and Beth's disappearance the previous year. Mike confronts him but Josh denies killing Jessica. Mike and Chris capture him and leave him tied up in a shed. In the abandoned mines, Emily is shown to have survived her fall. She may find Beth's head and learn that Hannah had actually survived the fall off the cliff. She encounters the Stranger that Mike had followed, who helps her escape from the creature. In her escape, Emily can be killed or manages to get back to the lodge.
As the friends uncover clues about the past, the Stranger confronts the main group at the lodge and explains to them that he is a protector of the mountain, which is infested with tall humanoid creatures called wendigos. They were created when caved-in miners engaged in cannibalism in order to survive. The Stranger explains that they will not be able to escape to safety until dawn, which is when the Wendigos cease their hunt, and there are only a few ways to kill Wendigos, such as by fire. Chris and the Stranger decide to rescue Josh, but discover that he has vanished; the Stranger is decapitated by the Wendigo soon after. Chris either makes it back to the lodge or is killed by the Wendigo before making it back inside. Sam, Mike, Ashley, and the remaining survivors flee to the lodge basement for safety.
Mike returns to the Sanatorium in search of Josh, hoping to find the key to the cable car, but encounters dozens of Wendigos (which the Stranger had imprisoned there), forcing him to destroy the Sanatorium to escape; meanwhile, Sam discovers more information about the Wendigos from the Stranger's notes and follows him. They eventually find Josh in the mines suffering from extreme hallucinations. He willingly gives them the key. Mike and Josh help Sam reach the surface, but Hannah, who is revealed to have turned into a Wendigo after being forced to eat Beth's body, intercepts them. Depending on the player's choices, Josh will recognize Hannah and she will drag him away; if he doesn't, Hannah will kill Josh.
If Matt and Jess are still alive at this point, they have separate encounters with the Wendigos in the mines and attempt to evade them and reach rescue. Meanwhile, Sam, Mike, and whoever is alive between Ashley, Chris, and Emily, regroup at the lodge only to find it overrun with Wendigos, including Hannah. The creatures, which are now fighting amongst themselves, cause a gas leak; the survivors ignited the gas with an electrical spark. This causes an explosion that destroys the lodge, kills all of the Wendigos (including Hannah), and can result in the deaths of all the remaining survivors, including Mike and/or Sam. Outside, at dawn, rescue helicopters arrive to take the survivors away if any of them survived.
In a post-credits scene, the group conducts interviews at a police station where they explain their story. If Josh has survived it is revealed that he is cannibalizing the Stranger's body, leading him to transform into a Wendigo. If at least one other protagonist survives, two police officers will explore the mines and discover a half-turned Josh, who spots them and seemingly prepares to attack them.
Until Dawn is designed to be played multiple times, as players cannot see all content with a single playthrough. Each playthrough will last about seven to nine hours in length, and the game mechanics utilize an in-game system called the "Butterfly Effect", in which any choice of action by the player may cause unforeseen consequences later on. For example, locating a weapon in an earlier chapter may allow the player to pick it up down the line when a chase scene leads back to the same room. Throughout the game, players will make difficult decisions during ethical or moral dilemmas, such as sacrificing one character to save another. The Butterfly Effect system blurs the line between right and wrong decisions and it is possible for players to keep all eight characters alive as well as having all eight of them die, allowing for many different paths and scenarios as well as offering several different endings for each character.
Until Dawn has a strict auto-save system to prevent players from reloading a previous save file to an earlier point in the game if they regret an in-game decision they have made. The only way to change the player's choice is to restart the game from the beginning or continue to the end and start a new game. The developers have stated that Until Dawn has "hundreds of endings." Different endings have different variations depending on the combination of characters alive at the end of the game.
The gameplay is focused on exploration, quick-time events and discovering clues, as well as making decisions. There is an in-game system that will keep track of all of the clues and secrets players have discovered in total, even if there are multiple playthroughs; these clues will allow the player to piece together the mysteries of Blackwood. Regarding the gameplay mechanics and theme, Until Dawn has been noted to be similar to Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls.
A system is added to keep progress of all the secrets you find, which can help you piece things together. The player will take control of each of the eight characters and can make simple choices, which will affect the way the game plays out, resulting in deaths or other mayhem.
Until Dawn follows eight main protagonists, who visit Blackwood Mountain for an annual winter getaway, and all eight can be controlled. The playable characters are young adults, most of whom humiliated Josh's sister Hannah, causing her and her twin sister, Beth, to run away into the woods a year before, never to be seen again.
- Hayden Panettiere as Samantha Giddings
- Rami Malek as Joshua Washington
- Brett Dalton as Michael Munroe
- Meaghan Martin as Jessica Riley
- Galadriel Stineman as Ashley Brown
- Noah Fleiss as Christopher Hartley
- Nichole Bloom as Emily Davis
- Jordan Fisher as Matthew Taylor
- Peter Stormare as Dr. Alan Hill
- Ella Lentini as Hannah and Beth Washington
- Larry Fessenden as The Stranger
Until Dawn was originally announced for the PlayStation 3 and had the intent of utilizing Sony's PlayStation Move controller. Set in a first-person perspective, the PlayStation Move controlled the player's flashlight, and a torch would be used to switch between the eight playable characters.
The game first appeared at Gamescom 2012, with a trailer and gameplay footage being shown to the public. The gameplay footage focused on Mike and Jessica as they head towards a secluded cabin to have sex and be away from their friends. Soon after they arrive at the cabin, Jessica is dragged out a window by an unidentified assailant and Mike pursues her all the way to a mine shaft, only to discover her dead body on an elevator lift. The footage concluded with Mike about to be attacked by an unknown man.
With the game unreleased as 2013 came to a close, reports surfaced that Until Dawn was canceled. This was denied by developer Supermassive Games, who stated the game would be out at a later date.
Until Dawn reappeared at Gamescom 2014, where it was revealed the game was now a PlayStation 4 exclusive and took place in a third-person perspective. The DualShock 4's motion sensor replaced the PlayStation Move for controlling the player's flashlight, and the torch feature was dropped for a more traditional level approach, with the characters becoming playable in different parts of the game. In addition to a new trailer, a demo was presented to the public for the first time, which focused on Ashley and Chris in their attempts to locate their missing friend Sam. This demo ended with the two in a deadly trap and Chris forced to either shoot Ashley or himself to stop the trap.
Another trailer and demo were released in December 2014. Intended to highlight the game's more action-oriented side (as opposed to the previous demo, which dealt with moral decisions), the demo placed players in the role of Sam during an encounter with the killer. Sam could either die, be knocked out, or escape by the demo's end.
A fourth trailer was released on Valentine's Day, which paid attention to the romantic relationships between the eight characters.
On May 26th, 2015, the game's release date was confirmed to be August 25th, 2015. This announcement coincided with a new trailer, which revealed the presence of Dr. Hill, a psychiatrist portrayed by Peter Stormare. It also announced a pre-order bonus which would include a bonus scene between Matt and Emily in the mountains, soon learning that they aren't alone. Multiple additions of the game were confirmed, which will include a standard edition of the game, an extended edition, and a steelbook edition.
At E3 2015, a demo was shown that followed Emily and Matt while they traveled to the radio tower in hopes of signaling for help. Depending on the choices made, Matt could be knocked off of a cliff or impaled on a fish hook, and Emily would fall off of the radio tower.
On July 13, 2015, Supermassive Games allowed certain video game reviewers to post ten minutes of footage. This footage included a video with showed the prologue of the game, where Beth searched for her sister Hannah after some of the survivors played a prank on her, an updated version of the original video where Jessica and Mike head up to the cabin to have sex, only for Jessica to be captured and possibly killed, and several other nine to ten minute segments of gameplay footage.
Until Dawn received positive reviews from critics. It received an aggregated score of 80.26% on GameRankings based on 54 reviews and 79/100 on Metacritic based on 68 reviews. It was the second best-selling game in the UK in its first week of release, debuting at No. 2 on the UK retail software sales chart, behind Gears of War: Ultimate Edition.
The praise was directed at the visuals, choice mechanic, horror elements, music, voice acting and gameplay design. Most of the criticism the game drew were concerning the story, mostly the second half, camera angles, character movements and a partially linear plot.
The game sold 1.38 million units as of January 2nd, 2016, making it a financial success, surpassing the developer's expectations.
Press Kit Edition
The Until Dawn Press Kit is a limited edition release of Until Dawn. The Press Kit features a copy of the game, a booklet with information on Blackwood Pines, as well as a guidebook, a local map, location postcards and a class confidential page, with elaborate information and details on the characters. It is available in English, Spanish, French, Russian and German.
The Extended Edition of Until Dawn consists of the original game, with a DLC bonus chapter of Matt and Emily.
Awards and Nominations
|Date||Ceremony||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result||Ref.|
|2015||Golden Joystick Awards||PlayStation Game of the Year||Until Dawn||Nominated|||
|Global Game Awards||Best Horror Game||Won|||
|Best Original Game||Third|
|The Game Awards||Best Narrative||Nominated|||
|2016||New Statesmen's Top 10 Video Games of 2015||Best Game||Seventh|||
|Hardcore Gamer's Best of 2015||Best Adventure Game||Runner-Up|||
|PlayStation Blog's Best of 2015||Best PS4 Game||Nominated|||
|SXSW Gaming Awards||Excellence in Technical Achievement||Nominated|||
|National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers||Performance in a Drama Supporting||Brett Dalton as Mike||Nominated|||
|Use of Sound, New IP||Until Dawn||Nominated|
|British Academy Games Awards||British Game||Nominated|||
- The film posters in the private theater that the killer traps Sam in are all from indie horror films - namely, "The House of the Devil", "Stake Land", "The Innkeepers", "Bitter Feast", "Automatons", and "Hypothermia".
- All achievements names are film references. For example, the outcome of one Emily scene will get you either "The Exorcism of Emily" or "Let eM In"; and keeping all four boys alive in one playthrough gets you "The Quicker Man".
- The game utilizes a modified and upgraded Killzone: Shadow Fall engine.
- In the Japanese version of the game, most of the deaths are censored and are replaced with black screens instead.
- Although a behind-the-scenes video says that the script consists of a thousand pages, the writers have said that Until Dawn actually has a 10,000 page script.
- One of the videos in the behind the scenes content shows that before this game was released, they had people play test the game, but that's not all. They played in the dark and had a special device hooked up to them to detect their fear and their pulse building up to the jumpscare
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- Reynolds, Matthew (September 2, 2015) "Golden Joystick Awards 2015 voting now open to the public". Digital Spy. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
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- Ahmed, Emad (December 31, 2015) "The top ten best videogames of 2015" Newstatesman.
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- (March 10, 2016) "British Academy Games Awards Nominees in 2016" British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved on March 17, 2016.
- Klepek, Patrick (September 22, 2015) "How Until Dawn Ended Up With A 10,000-Page Script" Kotaku. Retrieved on October 10, 2016.