1. Game description:
Until Dawn is an interactive drama survival horror, where every decision affects the plot.
Player follows the story of eight teenagers who have to survive on Blackwood Mountain until they are rescued at dawn.
During a party at her lodge on Blackwood Mountain, two sisters die due to a prank. A year later, the rest of the guests are invited to the same lodge. As the night progresses, they are terrorised by a masked man. Is this another prank or real threat? Is there anything else waiting for them in the mountain cabin?
Game was developed by Supermassive Games using Decima engine. It is a PS4 exclusive.
1.3 Game trailer, gameplay and game website:
Lens #39: The lens of Meaningful Choices
The whole game mechanism is based on butterfly effect1, where a small change in one state can result in a larger difference in another one. Each player choice in game is meaningful and directly affects the story and our possible future choices – relations between characters can become stronger, weaker or, due to our actions, characters can die.
- There are 22 critical choices in game
- Certain choices may unlock new sequences of events (leading to unforeseen consequences)
Lens #78: The lens of Story
The story of the game is well designed and complex – with each choice, the events within the game can change dramatically. Storyline is non-linear – with each new game, player might get a different outcomes and discover new information important to the plot. Information given to the player are subjective – each character perceives the events differently.
- There are 3 main endings (all alive, all dead, some alive) with 256 unique variations (28 based on the number of characters)
- There are 10 chapters in game with intermissions between chapters to analyse player’s personality based on his game
- A game script is nearly 10,000 pages2 long.
Lens #41: The lens of Skill vs Chance
The game has almost no luck-based components. The gameplay is decided purely on player’s skills within quick time events, decisions made in the story and player’s will to explore (there are hidden totems, which reveal possible future events). Only player’s decision-making skills, intuition, reflexes and curiosity are the factors that will decide on the characters’ fate.
- There are 30 totems to be found in Until Dawn – 6 totems out of each category (death, danger, loss, guidance and fortune)
- Some decisions are timed
Lens #47: The lens of Punishment
Until Dawn uses a strict auto-save system – whenever a decision is made, game is saved to prevent players from reloading the game state before the decision was made. If the character dies, we cannot bring them back to life. The only way to undo our previous choices or mistakes is to restart the game and continue with a new, fresh start.3
Lens #87: The lens of Character Traits
Until Dawn story is mostly about character development and how certain events influence our relations and our personality. Each of 8 characters in game are different personalities with unique their views and beliefs. Every decision in game is influenced by the character we are currently playing. Although, throughout the game, our choices shape the reality and affect our relations and cause character development. Player can also view the personality of each character and his or her relationships with others within in-game menu.4
Articles and references:
- Boeing, G. (2016) “Visual Analysis of Nonlinear Dynamical Systems: Chaos, Fractals, Self-Similarity and the Limits of Prediction” (On butterfly effect)
- Klepek, Patrick (22 September 2015), “How Until Dawn Ended Up with nearly 10000 page script” Kotaku
- Bell, Larryn (30 August 2015) “Until Dawn Walkthrough and Guide” Prima Games
- Takahashi, Dean (26 August 2015) “10 tips for surviving the night in Until Dawn”