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Halloween Horror Game Countdown: Breaking down ‘Until Dawn’

Welcome, one and all, to the second week of my Halloween Horror Game Countdown! This week, I’m reviewing the amazing, psychologically thrilling, horror extravaganza, that is… Until Dawn.

BUUUUMMM! (if you’ve played the video game, you know the EXACTLY what that noise is — the sound of sh*t about to GO DOWN.)

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Alright guys, LET’S DO THIS.

Until Dawn is a Teen B Movie-esque horror game that focuses around the main concept of chaos theory, also known as the butterfly effect. According to Urban Dictionary, the butterfly effect is the theory that a single occurrence, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever. The fragility of choice is a HUGE factor in this game. The story moves the way that the player creates it… which drives the incredible horror of Until Dawn.

The Story

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A group of teens venture into the woods (in the middle of the night, mind you) to spend the weekend cozied up together in their friend, Josh’s, family cabin on Blackwood Mountain. Cabin? Woods? Night? Chyah, get ready to get spooky. This reunion is almost symbolic, as the posse regathers to honor the mysterious disappearance of Josh’s twin sisters, Hannah and Beth, which happened exactly one year ago. But some creepy stuff is definitely going down here at fancy-pants manor, and no one is safe. With talk of spirits, psychos, and monsters on the loose, Josh, Sam, Jessica, Matt, Emily, Chris, Ashley, and Mike begin an epic battle for survival, each with one main goal in mind — to last until dawn, when help will hopefully arrive.

SIDE NOTE: Some awesome and recognizable actors did the voices and MO-CAP (motion capture) for this game. Hayden Panettiere (Heroes, Nashville) stars as Sam, Jessica is played by Meghan Martin (Camp Rock, anyone?), Jordan Fisher as Matt (Teen Beach Movie), Mike is Brett Dalton (Agents of S.H.I.E.LD.), and recent Emmy winner Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) plays Josh. This game is basically a Disney Channel reunion.

Gameplay

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Choice. This game is all about do or die (literally) moments that are affected by the decisions that you, as the player, must make. Some you can take your time with, others you have to make with a very limited time frame. It plays into good vs. bad karma, humanity’s relationship with nature, and the way that you treat your fellow peers. There are literally HUNDREDS of different outcomes and end results to Until Dawn, and yes, people CAN  AND WILL DIE based on your choices. Yeah, it can get pretty intense…

There is a very heavy Native American influence upheld in the story, and in the spirit of the butterfly affect, you also are able to find a series of ‘totems’ that can show you a glimpse of the future. But you can only achieve the premonition you see if you play your cards RIGHT. There are five totem categories — Danger, Death, Fortune, Loss, and Guidance. What you do and don’t want to see is completely up to you.

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The game moves hour by hour, and the beginning of each hour is basically the start of a different “mission.” It flows sort of like a book, where each chapter covers different ground with different characters. For example, one hour you’ll be playing as Sam, and the next you’ll be any of the other seven main protagonists. You begin sleuthing the mysteries of the game at a great pace, slowly, until the pieces begin suddenly to fit together. The feeling of security slowly begins to slip away as time passes, which creates an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety.

Events can either be quick-time jump scares where you have to make an immediate decision, or dragging horrifying moments where you really have to think about your next move… it could mean the life of someone important. The story line feels very stereotypical teen-slasher flick when you start out, yet as you move forward in your pursuits and goals, you find that it goes so much deeper. I DON’T WANT TO GIVE TOO MUCH AWAY, GUYS!

There are also ‘cut scenes’ in the game that is from the player’s perspective — someone well into a session with this creepy as HELL psychologist, Dr. Hill. He asks you a million questions about you and what triggers your fears and phobias. At first, it seems really awkward like, ‘WTF is this weird guy doing here?’. But oh boy, guys, the reason behind Creep-asaurus Rex is INSANE. Until Dawn is an immersive experience, so, you really have to play in order to understand why the mechanics are incredible as they are, and how the game feeds into your mind to tailor your individual game.

SCARE O’ METER SCORE:  8/10 – Your Favorite Teen Freak-Out Flick

Smart, scary, intriguing, and freaking fun. I love this game. It may be a little cheesy at times, but it has deep moments that make the scary and sentimental moments worthwhile. You fall in love with some characters, you grow to despise some, but the connection to the story only grows with each chapter. Now go, enjoy, and unravel the mystery of Blackwood Mountain for yourself. Make good choices… *WINK*

Check out the trailer for the game here!

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Sam Prevost

Sam is just your average sci-fi loving, pizza eating, happy-go-lucky lass. She is an LA based comedic actor, writer, and blogger, who is the founder of her own film company, Fish Tank Productions. Some of her hobbies include long walks on the beach, Doctor Who marathons, catching Pokémon in Kalos, day trips to Coruscant, and having second breakfast in the Shire.

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