The thrill of choice intoxicates the human mind. Dictating someone else’s life is even more so. In recent years video game developers have begun to employ the idea of player choice in the development of a game’s plot. This new tactic has attracted some limelight and sparked new interest in the lives of gamers.
Until Dawn hit the public on the Playstation4 console and PC platform August twenty-fifth. This horror based puzzle game creates a suspense filled scenario that calls forth the player’s moral code and pushes them to make time sensitive decisions that mold and shape the outcome of the story. Until Dawn is able to draw the player into the world of its characters and create an enthralling experience through enhanced graphics; chilling sound; choice and consequence; and well developed characters.
Until Dawn was developed by the game makers Supermassive Games and published by SCEA. The story was written in collaboration by famed cult writer/directors Larry Fessenden & Graham Reznick. It can be found on the Playstation website here: https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/until-dawn-ps4/.
Promptly when Until Dawn was released, I watched the gameplay from a variety of different internet gamers. After viewing the different pathways, deaths, and endings of the gameplay, I have come to a solid conclusion as a gamer of fifteen years: I believe this game is one that will influence game developers with its fantastic story and graphics.
To sum up the plot without giving too much away, I will say this: on a weekend trip to Josh’s family cabin on a mountain in Blackwood Pines, his twin sisters disappear. A year later he invites his friends back to reunite and enjoy a weekend of fun. However, this is short lived when a terrifying night of suspense and mystery unfolds. You must fight for their lives until dawn arrives. Buh buh BUH!
The game is a horror game with a huge mystery for the player to uncover, or for them to avoid and just try to survive the night.
Why then, does this game generate an emotional uproar through suspense, gore, and what not? Well, Until Dawn’s main attraction is its use of the Butterfly Effect. There are moments within the game that the player’s choice determines the outcome of the story within the game. This aspect of the game generates a spine chilling mood and causes the game-player to experience the consequences of their choices. This whole idea of choice and consequence in games captivates an audience when combined with next-gen horror and motion capture animation.
Granted, the use of motion capture animation in video games has grown more popular and more advanced over the years. Motion capture incorporates the use of actors dressed in special capture suits acting out the scenes of the game. Then, the animators, using the footage, generate the base for their design using their computer programs. Games like Until Dawn have characters that are not only voiced by actors, but modeled and essentially acted out by the actors. A well known cast of actors and actresses were called forth to participate such as: Hayden Panettiere, Peter Stormare, and Rami Malek. With games such as Until Dawn, famous actors and actresses are becoming involved in the gaming world. Until recent years, only voice actors were involved with very few on-screen actors. Such games are opening new doors for the entertainment community. With the motion capture graphics and well executed character design creates the same feeling you would get if you were watching a computer generated movie, which consequently intrigue new groups of consumers.
Things such as this fascinate me. I’ve always enjoyed games with intense plot and fully developed characters as opposed to the shallow “heroes and heroines” from your basic games. Until Dawn gives us characters with personality. There are eight characters total: Josh, Sam, Michael, Jessica, Chris, Ashley, Amy, and Matt. From the start of the game they are introduced with traits. For example, Chris is introduced as methodical, humorous, and protective; where in contrast, Sam is introduced as diligent, considerate, and adventurous. As you play, your choices change how they react to different situations, and ultimately who in the game will like you or despise you. Throughout the game you can see how each character develops and how their relationships, as well as personality, change according to how you play. Until Dawn has demonstrated fantastic characterization, which alone impresses me in video games.
So what else is it about this game that makes it so horrifying and fantastic? Of course, the sound and ambiance definitely further add to the world that is Until Dawn.
The PlayStation Blog site interviewed the man responsible for the sounds of Until Dawn, Jason Graves. One thing he says in this interview is that he had a “little shaker.” “It’s a goat-hoof shaker. It was actually featured a lot throughout the score to represent the mountains, the location, and the history of the people that used to live there. You can distinctively hear that throughout the main theme and some of the key tracks.” He goes on to discuss other unique and interesting instruments and techniques he used to create the atmosphere in this game. Not only does this make the game stand out among others, but it adds to the native american themes and the mystery of the main story. The sounds of Until Dawn show a brilliant understanding of timing and arrangements of musical score.
For example, here is a link to the interview, which includes the a few of the musical scores from the game: http://blog.us.playstation.com/2015/07/31/interview-the-music-of-until-dawn-hear-3-new-tracks/
“We really wanted to place you physically on this mountain and in this cabin.” -Jason Graves.
The sound, graphics, and characters of this game are new age creativity at its finest. The developers have made a game that can be enjoyed by either playing or watching it, and have successfully introduced a game that truly draws in the player and allows them to become part of the plot development. This game will influence future games, and possibly cause gamer developers to put more thought into their characters, graphics, and sounds. All aspects of a game are important to its success, and Until Dawn in its yet early weeks of play-throughs, has indeed reached success.