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PlayStation 4 Exclusive First Look: Until Dawn

Sony recently had an exclusive PS4 media preview, where a few games slated for release in the upcoming months were introduced. One game in particular, Until Dawn, is a PS4-exclusive horror game slated to shake up the horror genre in video games.

Made by studio Supermassive Games, Until Dawn revolves around eight friends trapped on a remote mountain getaway, with a killer on the loose. These are some of the more notable points I experienced when I had the chance to get some hands-on time with the game!

1. Impressive Acting

It features familiar Hollywood faces, such as Hayden Panettiere (save the cheerleader, save the world anyone?), whose acting prowess really shows through the incredible facial expressions rendered in-game.

Thinking hard if she should be joking around with an Ouija board.
Thinking hard if she should be joking around with an Ouija board.

While facial motion capture technology is nothing new, it is impressively utilised in this game to convey different emotions – ranging from paranoia to outright scream-inducing fear. It reminds me of L.A. Noire, where realistic facial expressions augment the game tremendously.

This helps to draw and immerse the player in the creepily cinematic snow-laden environment, creating an intense atmosphere of suspense and genuine curiosity – as if I was in the game itself, being hunted by the sinister killer! Thus, forming a tangible relationship between the player and the characters, resulting in an unquenchable thirst to find out what results your decisions incur.

2. Cinematic experience that can be shared with an entire group

The first thing I noticed about the game was the immaculately cinematic graphics, which not only helped in delivering fantastic facial expressions (as elaborated in the previous point), but also in providing an immersive story-telling experience. The game felt like as if I was watching (or rather, living) a movie and kept me to the edge of my seat – even when I wasn’t the one playing!

Great use of lighting and a detailed environment.
Great use of lighting and a detailed environment.

The ultra-real graphics, coupled with the intense soundtrack – with many of the little shock-scare scenes in classic old-school horror movies – gave an incredible performance, which can be easily shared amongst an entire group, making it the perfect game for a late-night stay-over with friends.

That said, there were a little frame-rate issues that popped up during the demonstration, but I am certain these are just teething issues which will be easily solved before release.

3. ‘Cheap Shots’

One of the best parts about horror movies isn’t the actual scares, but the reaction to those scares! Especially if you aren’t the one being scared. If you have a Playstation Camera, the game actually records reaction videos of the scariest moments in the game.

Look at all those ‘Cheap Shots’ of yourself.
Look at all those ‘Cheap Shots’ of yourself.

These are all automatically saved in the aptly-named ‘Cheap Shots’ category, making it easy for you to share your friend’s cowardice in fully glory on social media websites. This is yet another small, but in my opinion innovative, ‘extras’ which makes it easily one of the best games to play with a group of friends.

4. Butterfly Effect ensures a high level of replayability

The game utilises an interesting Butterfly-Effect interface, where every single decision – even the most minute ones such as peeking at a friend’s text messages – has a lasting and definite impact on how relationships between characters are affected and hence how the game’s story progresses.

Should she let go?
Should she let go?

It is said to include a strict auto-save system, where only one save file will be allowed, so as to ensure that gamers will not be able to reload a previous file to undo their (probably) horrifying and guilt-inducing choice.

This is great news for casual gamers such as myself, who never did see much of a point in replaying a game. I personally find it extremely tiresome to go through an entire game again for generally the same storyline – even in choice-dependent games such as Fable. Due to the Butterfly-Effect interface, Until Dawn looks to be a game where I would be willing to go through twice – simply because I want to find out the drastically different storylines and paths the characters can go through!

Conclusion

Until Dawn looks to be an innovative story-telling experience bound to thrill horror and non-horror fans alike. Although the actual gameplay itself (which consisted of a shooting mini-game and Quick Time Action events during my limited play-through) is rather muted and lacklustre, the compelling storyline, amazing cinematic graphics and impressive acting makes for a captivating experience.

This is certainly no Resident Evil, however it is important to note that it does not try to be one. It focuses less on the playable action but more of the entire story telling experience – which is great entertainment as far as I’m concerned. Until Dawn will be officially released on the 25th of August, 2015 at a price of SGD$69.90 or a download-only price of SGD$62.

For those who can’t wait to get their hands on the game as soon as possible, pre-orders will start from 31 July 2015 until 21 August 2015 at all Playstation Authorised Dealers and Sony Stores. Furthermore, ALL pre-orders will come with an Until Dawn Steelbook, while stocks last!

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