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Spring has settled in Portugal! We are having sunny days and already changed the hour which means daylight until 8p.m.!! With so much light out there right now and having the need to have a new series for the gaming section of course the first thing it came to my head was, let review some HORROR games! It makes completely sense you guys! 😀 Just kidding, actually I’ve just finished Resident Evil 7 (I only need to finish it on madhouse to get the last PS4 trophies) and I thought… Why not speak only about horror games this month?
As you probably already know from my anxiety series I love horror entertainment, so I’ve played some games! Not all of them, neither the most of them to be honest, only because until recently I didn’t like First Person View in games, the only one I did enjoy was Skyrim and that’s all xD However, after Resident Evil 7 let’s say I’m way open to this kind of set-up and I’m at the moment playing Dishonored xD
Now, contrary to RPGs, I don’t think horror games need a good story to be enjoyable (ofc it’s a plus, but not a necessity), this way I had to think how was I going to review this without talking a lot about the story as I do when talking about RPGs xD This way I’ll give you a synopsis (ofc) but I will be looking more into 3 points that I think that makes a good horror game:
Gameplay – Because running from zombies without good controls is HARD!
Level of scariness – Is the game really scary?
Difficulty – Puzzles and those kind of funny things!
Ambience – Does the environment around you really make you feel anxious when nothing is happening?
To continue with the movie style thing going as last week with Heavy Rain, today I’m going to talk a little bit of a game that I loved:
Until Dawn is about a group of teenagers which decide to spend some nights in a cabin in Blackwood Mountain, some snowy mountains where there is nothing or no one in a kilometres’ radius. Some of them decide to make a huge prank to Hannah by making her think that her crush, Michael is interested in her, making her come to a room and strip to him while everyone is hidden in the room watching and filming. When she finds out what is happening she just can’t find a way to confront the shame and runs from the house. Her sister, Beth goes running after her to try to make her come back. The end is horrible, both fall down from a cliff and die. However, their corpses are never found and they are registered as missed.
On year later, the other 7 teenagers are invited by Joshua, Beth and Hannah’s brother to spend a weekend in the same cabin exactly one year later of their disappearance. It is going the worst night of their life and they will just try to survive until the next morning.
There are different set-ups in this game and you can find similarities with many popular horror movies/games. You will have an event that is completely inspired by Saw, you will also have monsters and you even have the opportunity to play in the cliché abandoned asylum that always creep me out! Although a little cliché towards the characters and the story, it is pretty enjoyable and they were able to get the cliché and make it terrific well!
The gameplay is equal as Heavy Rain. You will play with the 8 characters in different parts of the game. Depending on in your decisions, actions and being able to smash the right buttons at the right time will determine if you are able (or not) to save these eight poor teenagers.
You have an endless number of closures. You can save the eight, everyone can die, or you can save any number between 0 and 8! No one is safe in Until Dawn! Contrary to Heavy Rain which I was able to get the perfect ending in my first playthrough, Until Dawn is more difficult to be able to save them all just by playing it once.
You do have some help. While you are exploring you can find totems which will give you some glimpses of the future that are defined as: Death, Danger, Loss, Guidance and Fortune. It is not really that easy to understand them though, however, with these images you will see actions that you should do or to avoid death, danger and a loss of a friend or, in the other hand, which actions will give you to a better outcome and that you were able to save the person in question.
The game focus on the butterfly effect and it doesn’t disappoint since the small of actions can completely change the outcome later! The game is really fun to play and the gameplay is entertaining! It is not a survival horror of course, so not that much of shooting and running, however trying to figure out what will be the outcome of putting an object in a certain place or being truthful/lying while being asked a question is really fun! Especially when some of your actions will only show their outcome way later in the game!
The game lives for the scary jumps, not gonna lie. No problem with me because I love those! But, yes, it’s not that kind of horror that really messes with your brain and makes you think about it and be scared of living the house for a week. It’s those kind of horror games that you will be always jumping, always in your toes expecting for the next jump scare. The thing is, the jump scares are really well done and you will really jump a lot of times during the game.
The game does not have puzzles per sais. The puzzles are trying to always figure out which action should you take throughout all the game to be able to save them all! I would say the difficult for that is medium. It’s going to be pretty difficult to save them all in one playthrough, I saved like 5 and from what I’ve seen in the web it was a pretty good number.
However, in your second playthrough it will be way easier to know what to do! Unless you made such a mess in your first playthrough that you don’t even know where to begin with regarding the changing of actions 😛
More than jump scares, horror games just need to have a great ambience. Ever tried to watch a horror movie without sound? It goes from scary to funny really fast! This way, in horror gaming it’s hugely important that horror games have the best light and the best background music to make you feel scared even when nothing is happening.
When it comes to graphic environment, such as lighting for example, Until Dawn really does its job well. You will experience different set-ups as already told you: The cabin, the mountains, the hospice and some mines which are behind the mountains. All of them are really well made and have the perfect set-up to make you feel anxious while playing. Most of the game is lighted by your phone or a flashlight and even though not completely dark the lighting completely translates the light you would have in those kinds of places and in the time of the day it is. For me, the cabin is probably one of the ones that made me feel more in the edge (at least for a part of the game) and the mountains the one I felt more at ease, there is something about being outside that makes you feel less trapped (even though there is a blizzard occurring).
As I said, nothing matters if you don’t execute music just right! The background music is one of the best that I ever experienced in horror gaming. From times to times I would start feeling a little anxious without even understand the why. I would stop to try to understand and noticed that the music vibe just had changed without me realizing. Normally when you are going for a jump scare or something like that the music always gets more tense, however most of the times you can feel the change letting you to get prepared to what is going to happen. In Until Dawn the change is so subtle that you only realize what is happening when you are already jumping from the sofa! Until Dawn has one of the best, yet subtle ambiences in the horror gaming world that I have experienced. The music is also pretty nice not gonna lie:
I give Until Dawn:
In conclusion, if you are into horror and just feel your heart beat going through the roof from time to time this is the game for you! The game is not survival so there is not as much action as the next games I’m going to talk about, but it compensates that with great ambience and making seat in the edge all of the time. Although story and characters are only a plus when it comes to horror games (in my opinion) the execution in this game was great. Although all of the being a little cliché and over saw at this point, it was so well executed that you feel yourself enjoying all the game and falling in love (or hating) every character in the game! Contrary to most of the games/movies these characters do change a little throughout the game. How they change all depends on you and your choices! That’s what makes the game even more enjoyable!
That’s it for today! Comment down below what do you think of Until Dawn! Also, do you think as me, that the story in horror games is not really that important for you to be able to enjoy them? Moreover, do you also love to feel your heart rating going up while playing games or do you prefer a more “My Little Pony” vibe?