Horror games seem to be a dime a dozen lately. They usually to fall into one of several categories, including survival horror or action horror. The latter seems to be be almost paradoxical, but some people like myself enjoy that format for what it is, so we can continue to call it that way.
It looks like we have a new entry on the horizon though, a new type of horror game called Until Dawn. This game seemingly drops many of the typical conventions of horror games and instead infuses the formula with choice reminiscent of the latest hollywood flick. Until Dawn is unique in this regard; it essentially places you in a typical slasher flick and gives you the option of choosing how your character responds to the situation.
Now, being perfectly honest, I haven’t seen much of it, but I can sum up in two words how I feel about Until Dawn: Cautious Optimism. They released a 24-minute gameplay trailer recently; I watched a few minutes and turned it off. That decision had nothing to do with it leaving a bad taste in my mouth, but rather it was because the new concept of making choices in your typical hollywood blockbuster fashion seems so new and unique that I want to experience it in all its glory on my first playthrough.
How many times have you seen a horror movie where you end up shouting at the screen in hysterics, screaming at the person “don’t go upstairs!” or “what are you thinking, run for help!” Those moments can be frustrating, but they’re part of the experience all the same. I can’t wait for the chance to tell the main character to do what they should do in their given situation. It doesn’t even matter to me if my choices don’t ultimately make much difference; TellTale’s excellent Walking Dead entries have taught me that it’s ok so long as the rest of the story doesn’t let you down.
And that’s my main concern with Until Dawn. We all know the horror cliches, and we choose to repeatedly watch such movies because we enjoy the experience. In driving innovation, my hope is that Until Dawn still moves the story forward in the same way that the better horror movies do. The reason I’m concerned for this game is because the developers are trying a new format here, and things really have to be arranged very carefully for this approach to work well. There are plenty of things that could go wrong (unresponsive or unimaginative play controls, poor pacing, shallow characters, excessive cliches etc), but there’s just so much that could go right – I really hope they’re up to the challenge, as this is one of my most-anticipated games of 2015.
Until Dawn is published by developer Supermassive Games and will be released exclusively on PS4 sometime in 2015.