Why Until Dawn is the best interactive movie I've ever played

Until Dawn has to be the best interactive movie I've ever played.

Since the release of Until Dawn, I've been intrigued by the game's concept. It's a narrative heavy horror game with pretty decent actors, however the intrigue wasn’t enough for me to warrant a purchase so I decided to skip it. When the game went on sale for Cyber Monday I decided to take the dive in—I’m not a huge horror fan but I enjoy a good scare.

After playing a few hours of the game, which I’ll admit isn’t perfect, I’m definitely having fun with it. The game has decent writing and I do find myself genuinely concerned for some of characters; while others I can’t wait to kill off. That is great! Because Until Dawn gives me the power to decide how the story goes.

Well this is tough one...

The game features a pretty stellar “butterfly-effect” mechanic that really does make you feel like the smallest things can change the story drastically. I won’t give specific examples to spare spoilers but let me give you vague example. A very silly choice I made in the first chapter drastically affected the fate of a character in the later chapters. The game also relies heavily on QTEs (Quick Time Events). I’m not a huge fan of these but they do work to push the narrative. And yes, these QTEs play a huge part in whether the characters stay alive until dawn.

Now why did I say this is best interactive movie I’ve ever played? Because the stellar voice acting makes me feel as if I’m more of sadistic spectator pulling the strings than someone playing in the character’s shoes. Camera angles give the feeling that you’re stalking the characters rather than playing as them.

I also found the game to play great with a group of people. It makes for an interesting psychological experiment allowing us to find out how twisted our friends are.

Overall, I never did I feel like I was playing game, rather I was orchestrating a chain of events.

I love how robust this genre is becoming as of late, with games like Until Dawn, Telltale Games, Quantic Dream games, and the new King’s Quest games. It will only get better once VR becomes mainstream. I can’t wait to play the rumored VR DLC for Until Dawn.

So what do you guys think of interactive narrative games? Were you a fan of Until Dawn? Sound off on the comments below.
Published Dec. 6th 2015
View Comments
  • 5SOS
    I really wanted Josh to survive, but it doesn't matter witch Choise you make, he'd die anyway.. And that sucks.
  • mrivera269
    You bring vary strong and valid points. I agree the story of Until Dawn is very much rehashed and cookie cut. However, I enjoy basic formulas of story telling. I also know the game is in no way perfect, but it's a great step forward for the genre and medium. Not all gamers are hardcore, so playing through Bioshock or Mass Effect, which have great interactive stories, wouldn't appeal to casual gamer. I feel Until Dawn or the Telltale games are more accessible to the casual gamer, who rather make tough choices than spend 30 minutes in a gun fight.

    I do see your point and opinion and somewhat agree with it as well. Thank you for your comment.
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    What do I think of interactive narrative games? Well... honestly, they remind me of those old "Goosebumps: Choose your scare" books. While those failed because, well, it's a book... the video game iteration does much better.

    Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, this is not saying much. It basically plays out as a less interactive version of other games. Bioshock did a great job of pointing this flaw with video games out before - because, in the grand scheme of things, you're limited to what the game has been programmed to do.

    Essentially, a game like Until Dawn has a cap at how "good" it can become. This ultimately is decided by graphics, narrative, and number of choices. Once again, in my opinion, Until Dawn plays out too much like tired tropes from horror: the psychologically demented Gothic villain, the "dead whore" trope, and more are all played out in this game. It's nothing particularly new, and - as a game - it's barely passable.

    In fact, the biggest missing factor of Until Dawn is the most essential part of horror - you have to want the characters to survive. Aside from the gamer "I want to see everyone live" part of things, I never felt like I wanted any of these characters to live. After all, weren't they all involved in murder before? And I'm pretty sure there were at least 1 or 2 characters everyone wanted to see dead. Apathy towards the characters is the bane of all horror.

    Once again, this is all in my opinion. As a literature student I see this game is barely a game, and an overdone plot that has been done countless times in Gothic fiction - ranging from the Black Cat, to The Shining.

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