After some pretty dark days recently, I needed a piece of entertainment that didn’t take itself too seriously but was serious about the love that it had been shown by its producers. Luckily, Until Dawn is both these; a homage to the horror genre(it’s a beautiful love-letter) but also knows when to poke fun at itself(or is that us?).
Road to recovery
While I’m recovering, and letting the 20mg of Citalopram take hold in my system, there’s some that may think it a bad move to be indulging with this type of entertainment. Yet it’s the effortless pacing of the story, the visually arresting graphics and the perfect balance put into when and how QTEs are used that has reopened the window to positive feelings.
Sure, this isn’t to say gaming alone is making me well; more that I’ve picked the right type of experience to aid me on the road to recovery. The last time depression had a hold over me was while smack in the middle of The Last of Us. I now know that it was a mistake to see out the story while struggling with my own demons. Rather than the sombre, dark tones of Naughty Dogs adventure, a lighter or more uplifting tale should have been picked then. And yes, Until Dawn may seem an odd choice to some but it really is fairly fluffy and throwaway.
Fright or flight?
Once the scares start to come(the first few chapters build things up nicely) it’s fairly obvious how the pattern of the game will then develop. Yet I was still caught a good several times when my guard was down. Each time I jumped, there’d be a little knowing smile to myself that that’s how I was expected to react.
QTE…when used to prop up scripted boss-fight sequences I detest them. Until Dawn has QTE yet I found myself not disliking their use. Rather they suit this experience of interactivity; narrative(cheesy) mixed with a slight of exploration along a linear world. That said, there were moments when a QTE changed the course of the story without giving away that was a possibility. So yes, QTE can be used in a way that doesn’t break mood or style if used in the right context.
After losing Matt early on, and stupidly falling for an old horror troupe that allowed Ashley to lose her head, it soon became clear that Until Dawn may have multiple endings but the last scenes to end the story would be the same. Rather than having any real way of controlling how the game finishes, it really is about who survives and under what conditions those that die, die.
The games finale does feel a little undercooked and a little too tidy for my liking. Horror has a long history of bluff endings and cliffhangers yet with the credits rolling on Until Dawn I felt a little meh. I loved the journey that the game presented me and am sure to give some further time over to it at a later date – falling for the trope really does niggle me!