Until Dawn is a game which could be more accurately titled as an interactive horror movie. Originally revealed at Gamescom 2012 for the Playstation 3, the game suffered some development issues and was restructured as a third-person PS4 exclusive at Gamescom 2014. Finally, we are able to bring you our thoughts after a couple of different playthroughs in which we made vastly different decisions.

Please note, this review will contain minor spoilers however no major plot events will be revealed. Until Dawn makes immediately apparent its focus on the “butterfly effect” – the major consequences which result from minor choices – and throughout the game, it manages to implement this in a far more effective way than most other survival horrors which rely on the choices of the player. It truly induces fear within the player as to whether one is making the correct choice each time a major decision appears on screen; particularly when under time pressure! Until Dawn couples this butterfly effect implementation with plenty of gore and a sometimes satirical take on the traditional slasher film.

After you complete Until Dawn’s first chapter you will have your first visit to the in-game psychiatrist, Dr. Hill. This short scene in the game was when the game gripped me. From the moment the scene began, Until Dawn had me hooked and I wanted to know what happened next. Here, you control an unknown character and answer the questions of Dr. Hill. After completing each chapter, you will return to Dr. Hill’s office for another session. This is the game’s way of discovering what scares you, as you will need to choose needles ghosts or zombies, snakes or spiders and rats or cockroaches. Through Until Dawn’s core butterfly effect, your choices will be implemented within the game’s story to give a customised horror experience. I found these sessions were the most intriguing part of Until Dawn and I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing them. Later in the game, you will discover who the character you are controlling is and will better understand the presence of the psychiatry sessions between chapters.

Now, in terms of the main story itself, Until Dawn follows eight teenagers as they gather for the weekend on a remote mountain in a lodge owned by the parents of one of the teens; the brother of twins Hannah and Beth who one year earlier disappeared on that same mountain. The game soon descends to chaos as disputes between the group (particularly those between an ex-couple and new partners) lead to them splitting up and a masked man appearing, termed “The Psycho” and “The Maniac” by the teens. As the game progresses, you play as different characters and experience different narratives, allowing each playthrough of the game to turn out dramatically different from the last.

I won’t spoil any of the big choices which must be made, however, you will see how choices early in the game massively effect the relationships of the characters and their hostility towards one another later in the game. Also, choosing whether or not to give certain items to particular characters will result in different scenarios later in the game depending on your choices. The game helps you keep track of your decisions by showing a status update on the screen when a major decision is made. Later in the game, you will be notified when one of your past choices affects the current scene. Your choices can also be seen in the “Butterfly Effect” menu screen. Until Dawn offers no way to change your mind; once you have made a decision, that’s it, your must stick with it or start a new playthrough. This is another attribute of the game which adds to the tension and pressure you feel whilst playing. However, once you complete a playthrough, you can go back and begin a replay from a particular chapter to change the decisions made in that chapter.

The setting of the game is fantastic; the snow-covered mountain provides chilling, creepy scenery for the entirety of the game. The seclusion from society also adds to the fear you will experience while playing the game. Unfortunately, there are not many elements which you can interact with. A flash of light as you move your torch means that you can pick up an item. Many of the items you find with either be clues or totems. Totems are a fun way in which the game warns you of future events. There are several different types of totem: danger, death, loss, guidance and fortune. When you pick up a totem, you will be given a short glimpse into a future event in the game which will correspond to the type of totem you find. For example, a death totem will show you a brief scene from a potential future death. At the beginning of the game, they seem unimportant, however, as you progress, you may realise that you should have heeded their warning.

Graphically, the game looks good most of the time but can occasionally disappoint. The most annoying issue is the camera angles and the lack of ability to control them. As a result of the fixed camera angle, you regularly find your character having to go out of frame for a brief amount of time. It isn’t a massive issue, however, it can be annoying at times. However, the game performs fantastically in the voice and sound department. The sound effects and music fit the game perfectly and the voice acting is outstanding. The voice matched to each character could not feel more fitting and each voice actor has managed to perfectly capture the fear and shock of their character as each event occurs.

In terms of gameplay itself, Until Dawn mainly delivers action-packed sequences of frantic movement in which you have to react with incredibly fast button presses and decisions. Do you run or hide? Leap or climb? Go left or go right? These are the decisions you will have make in extremely limited periods of time. As always, your decision could result in the death of one of the characters. As you are running, the game will randomly prompt you to hit a button to avoid an obstacle; miss and you may fall or stumble, losing valuable time. The game has also managed to find a perfect use for the Dualshock 4’s motion controls. At moments where you are hiding, you must hold the Dualshock 4 absolutely steady. Even the slightest movement may get you caught and potentially end the life of one of the characters. These moments add even more tension to the game.

Overall, Until Dawn is a stunning example of how an interactive survival horror game should be done. While there may be some small issues with the camera angles and the story is a little on the short side, I do not think you will find a better survival horror experience on the market! Until Dawn is a fun, immersive and compelling experience which every PS4 owner should experience!