Until Dawn Stormares its way into #17 of our Game of the Year 2015 list.
Who knew that the best type of choice-based adventure game Quantic Dream could possibly imagine came from a small studio from Surrey County in the UK? Until Dawn is a throwback to horror movies of the 80’s and 90’s, playfully dancing around (and using) their tropes in order to subvert, humor, entertain and downright frighten players.
You play as a group of young adults going up to a cabin in the mountainous woods of glorious British Columbia, as part of an annual tradition amongst the tight-knit group of friends. Things are not what they seem, however, when unexplained phenomena and crazed masked killers start terrorizing the group, leading to intense do-or-die decisions needed to be made on the spot.
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What I love most about Until Dawn is that it is a story that truly tailors to your choices. Even inconcequential decisions lead to Butterfly Effect moments that put the lives of your group members in and out of jeopardy. You can leave a full playthrough with everyone or no one surviving; truly a testament to storytelling that befits a pseudo-satire of the horror film genre.
Most of all, Until Dawn has a great ensemble. Complete with performance capture from Peter Stormare, Hayden Panettiere, Rami Malek and Brett Dalton, every character had their own idiosynchracies, personality ticks and motivations that made them believeable as individuals and as a group. They fall into cliches, yes, but how the story plays up their heroic (and villainous) traits leads to interesting choices that both designer and player get to make.
The acting is on point, the story plays to the genre well, the gameplay weaves a narrative web of options and it’s hilarious, scary and sobering all at the same time. Until Dawn is what both adventure and horror games should strive for in 2016 and beyond.