Announcing Games too early has been a common problem in the last few years, and there are casualties all over the place. We’ve seen games like The Last Guardian and Tekken X Street Fighter which seem to have slinked off into vapourware hell, things like Resident Evil 5 that changed pretty much entirely from what was initially revealed and even games like Watch Dogs, where the long run-up to release led to the game getting hyped up to levels it could never possibly hope to live up to. And with the current transition to a new generation of hardware, there’s now a fourth category as well games that disappear altogether only to resurface some time later on new hardware. That’s what happened with Final Fantasy Versus XIII (now XV), after all, and Until Dawn certainly won’t be the last semi-familiar name to return to relevance on PS4.


Originally announced back when Sony was obsessed with its Wii Remote rival PS Move, Until Dawn looks a hell of a lot better on PS4 than it did on PS3. And not just on the obvious graphical level, either gameplay has come a long way and the new emphasis on choice and consequence a la Heavy Rain or The Walking Dead is really interesting. The old Move functionality still carries over to a degree, so shining your torch around the grim cabins and dingy basements is as simple as angling your DualShock 4 accordingly. It’s a little more jarring with the third person viewpoint than it was back when the game was first-person, but it still feels great when you pull into a character’s viewpoint to investigate your surroundings. Navigation and exploration has a real Quantic Dream feel to it make up your own mind whether that’s a positive or a negative to the point where we’d be amazed if David Cage’s team hadn't been involved with the project on some level.

But while Cage’s games like to think they’re all mature and clever but often end up coming across as just a bit daft, Until Dawn takes the smarter approach of not taking itself half as seriously. From the setup (which sees eight friends trapped in a mountain cabin with someone/something out to get them) to the set pieces, you'll notice callbacks to pretty much every big teen horror movie in recent memory, but don’t assume that this means there won’t be much in the way of scare potential.


It’s amazing how much more intense some of the scenes here are than their Hollywood equivalent purely because you’re the one calling the shots the eight playable characters can all live or die based on your actions, and that’s terrifying enough on its own. Any action that has consequences will result in a little butterfly icon appearing (a slightly more subtle version of The Walking Dead’s ‘Clementine
will remember that’ pop-ups) and Sony is promising a game with such a complex web of narrative and gameplay choices that no two playthroughs will be exactly alike, the story continuing whether characters live or die and culminating in myriad endings based on your actions.

“SONY IS PROMISING A GAME WITH A COMPLEX WEB OF NARRATIVE AND GAMEPLAY CHOICES”
Helping push the cinematic angle are a cast of semi-familiar faces from TV and cinema, most notably Heroes cheerleader Hayden Panettiere and Brett Dalton from Agents Of SHIELD. The writing team also has something of a horror/thriller pedigree, roping in the likes of Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick to bring an air of credibility to proceedings.


It’s very cleverly put together to encourage bold and stupid behaviour, from what we’ve played it’s all too easy to shout at the dumb horror movie victim that wanders off alone but when that same choice comes up in the game, it’s actually incredibly tempting just to spit in the face of every horror movie rule and break away from the pack. That’s the sign of a writing team doing its job properly right there it’s not just cheesy dialogue they’re responsible for, but also cunningly weaving each choice situation together so that there’s no obvious ‘right’ answer.

Running on a modified version of the Killzone Shadow Fall engine, Until Dawn looks sharp as hell, another tick on a pretty healthy-looking checklist not too shabby for a game that nobody gave two shits about just a few weeks ago. Kojima’s clever PT stunt and indie games like Amnesia and Outlast have made horror games relevant again. But with so much to fine-tune in terms of making sure the
narrative still works no matter who dies when (or not, as the case may be), it’s little surprise that Until Dawn isn’t due until next year. Still, if that gives the team time to deliver on the promise of a horror game with Quantic Dream-level branching narrative, we’re absolutely fine with staying in the dark a little longer.