One week ago, I wrote about my experience playing Until Dawn for the first time. I was only a few chapters in at that point, but now, I’ve finished the game.
If you’re wondering how I feel after the fact, then you’ve come to the right place. Major spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t finished the game yourself, stop reading now!!!
Until Dawn’s Surprisingly Good Story
I don’t consider myself a horror buff or anything like that, but we here at Couch Bandits are big fans of the genre, and I’ve seen my fair share of slashers in the past. I’ve also loved storytelling for as long as I can remember—it’s something I practice in both my professional life and spare time—so when I experience a refreshing story, I really appreciate it.
And that’s one of the biggest strengths of Until Dawn in my opinion. At the beginning of the game, you meet all these horror character tropes—the mean girl, the player, the loser, etc. But as the game progresses, the writers manage to turn these tropes on their heads, and you end up caring about characters you may have hated at the beginning. Emily and Mike, for instance, were two characters I immediately disliked, but by the end, I had grown attached to them (though I’m still not a huge fan of Emily).
Beyond the characters, the plot takes a lot of interesting turns that keeps the story fun, which is especially important in a game that’s essentially an interactive story. I didn’t think the story would take a turn toward the supernatural, for example, but I didn’t hate that twist. And I liked the fact there were a number of different mysteries and storylines running parallel and connecting at the end to create one holistic picture.
That said, I have to be honest…I messed up the story pretty bad on my first playthrough. I ended up killing 4 of the 8 characters, and I missed a ton of clues, which subsequently led to the death of Josh. I also killed Chris and Jessica due to failed quicktime events, and at the very last scene, I made the mistake of leaving the house before Mike escaped…
BUT I knew I couldn’t leave the game like that, and so, my girlfriend and I replayed the entire game from start to finish to make sure we saw and collected everything—and also saved everyone. Something I mentioned in my first post that I really appreciate it is the fact you have to play as each character would play. Actions you might take are different from the actions each character would take, which makes for an interesting way to play the game and tell a story—it feels right and made it really enjoyable to replay.
What’s Scarier: The Mercilessly Fast Quicktime Events or the Jump Scares?
As I mentioned, the quicktime events in Until Dawn led to a few “oops” moments for me…After playing Detroit: Become Human and Beyond: Two Souls, this came as a surprise. I was used to stressful quicktime events and hitting the right buttons at the perfect time, but Until Dawn amped up that challenge by increasing the speed of the events.
That said, once you pick up on the patterns and play through a scene once, it’s not nearly as challenging as it seemed the first time around. There are still some moments that scared the crap out of me, like the Wendigo scene with Josh, which will be stressful no matter how many times I play it. But all in all, I like this approach, because it escalates the tension of each scene, which meshes perfectly with the survival horror genre.
And speaking of horror, I did a lot of squealing at the jump scares. I don’t hate jump scares as much as some people, so I actually enjoyed them—each was well executed—but if that doesn’t sound like a fun time for you, stay clear of this game. You’ll thank me later!
Taking in the Music and the Atmosphere
So, we’ve got a good story, challenging mechanics, and a compelling approach to character development…but all that wouldn’t work without the right presentation. Luckily, the sound design and music in this game are phenomenal.
Jason Graves, the composer, did an incredible job creating the chilling soundtrack. The strings, especially, developed a unique vibe of ghostly wailing in the distance. His work made the game unsettling—and I mean that in the best way possible. It added an extra dimension of fear.
The visuals also came together to create a cohesive package. There are a lot of quiet moments, where you’re walking through the old mines or a spooky forest, and your senses are on high alert, listening and looking for anything strange or out of place. I absolutely loved the mystic beauty of the backgrounds. They brought each area—from the cabin to the sanatorium—to life.
At the end of the day, I feel very satisfied with my playthroughs of Until Dawn. If you’re a horror fan, I highly recommend checking this game out. It makes for the perfect game to play over a weekend or late at night when you’re looking for an adrenaline rush. I’m legitimately looking forward to revisiting this game a few Halloweens down the line.
What was your experience playing Until Dawn? Did you like the story and the characters? What about the music and visuals? Let us know in the comments below!