The night is darkest just before the dawn?
It’s safe to say that, for the most part of its lifetime, we haven’t seen a huge amount of serious and mature PlayStation Move titles. However, that is all about to change with the impending arrival of Until Dawn.
During our time at Gamescom 2012, we sat attended a presentation headed up by the developers of the title, Supermassive Games. They explained the story and inspirations behind the title, and why they decided to go down the ‘teen horror’ route. Until Dawn is unlike any previous Move title, it’s gritty, creepy and dripping with atmosphere. The story takes its inspiration from the teen horror movies that we have been accustomed to since the 80s, including Halloween and the Scream movies. Story wise, Until Dawn features a group of teenagers initially, but with horny pair (Michael and Jessica) needing some quality time together, they are told to leave the group and do the dirty deed in a log cabin high up in the mountains owned by one of the group member’s rich parents.
The gameplay part of Until Dawn is quite simple, with the PlayStation Move’s motion controller being the only thing needed to play the game. At the end of the presentation the development team were asked if it would be possible to use the Move’s Navigation Controller. They responded by saying that they wanted to keep the game’s control scheme simple, so it made sense to use just the motion controller. Character movement is performed by pressing the Move’s ‘T’ button and, as you’d expect, you use the motion controller itself to adjust the direction you are heading. That’s not the motion controller’s only use, as you also move it around to use your torch and the weapon you have quipped. Don’t worry, the game does feature object interaction too, with all that being handled by the Move button. It sounds very basic in theory, and I was very weary when I witnessed the trailer during the Sony Conference, but now I’ve seen it working, it makes perfect sense. The cheesy dialogue might be a turn off for some, but it fits perfectly into the setting and the story that the game draws inspiration from. If you’ve seen Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer, you’ll know exactly what to expect.
Continuing with the story, during the group’s onwards trip through the snow-filled forest, the tension is their in abundance, with the wind, footsteps and creaking ambiance of the elements hitting the trees in the foreground coming through the speakers. It’s superb, adding another layer of tension to the overall experience. There was one section during the climb that saw a deer cross paths with the passionate teenagers trying to flee the beast, and it was a genuine shock, highlighting exactly what Until Dawn is trying to achieve. The group then come across a butchered stag and also see a mysterious monster dragging the lifeless body into the woods. As they start to run off in terror towards their destination, the suspense really hits home as they are being hunted down, yet cannot obtain entry to the cabin due to the lock on door.
Once inside the log cabin, the game then moves onto a cutscene, focusing on the cabin through the trees from the perspective of the unexplained beast. After a bit of interacting within the cabin, the beast then attacks and drags Jessica through the forest with Michael trying his best in tow to find her via faint screams coming from inside the forest. Again, the moment is recreated superbly, with brilliant sound and timing. Once Michael finds Jessica, it’s not the outcome that he was looking for, as he finds her lifeless body slumped over a suspended platform. Suddenly, the beast strikes again and this time it’s Michael’s turn to experience the terror.
Until Dawn really is a dark, gritty and frightening take on the horror genre that has been present in film and gaming for such a long time. Yes, it might be cheesy, but this only adds to the overall experience. The PlayStation 3 has been crying out for a more mature and graphic Move title and Until Dawn has it in an abundance. There are some concerns in relation to how deep the experience will go, but from what was shown at Gamescom, I’m quite confident that Supermassive Games will deliver.