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Until Dawn

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Until Dawn is an interactive drama survival horror adventure game developed by Supermassive Games and Sony Interactive Entertainment. It was originally going to be a PlayStation 3 game that would feature Move support, but an announcement in August 2014 then stated that it would be a PlayStation 4 exclusive. It was officially released worldwide on August 25, 2015. [1] It also uses a modified and upgraded Killzone: Shadow Fall engine. [2]

Gameplay

Until Dawn is designed to be played multiple times, as players cannot see all content with a single playthrough. Each playthrough will last about nine hours in length and the game mechanics utilize an in-game system called the "Butterfly Effect" in which any choice of action by the player may cause unforeseen consequences later on. For example, locating a weapon in an earlier chapter may allow the player to pick it up down the line when a chase scene leads back to the same room. Throughout the game, players will make difficult decisions during ethical or moral dilemmas, such as sacrificing one character to save another. The Butterfly Effect system blurs the line between right and wrong decisions, and it is possible for players to keep all eight characters alive as well as having all eight of them die, allowing for many different paths and scenarios as well as offering several different endings for each character. Until Dawn has a strict auto-save system to prevent players from reloading a previous save file to an earlier point in the game if they regret an in-game decision they have made. The only way to change the player's choice is to restart the game from the beginning or continue to the end and start a new game. The developer has stated that Until Dawn has "hundreds of endings" but that should not be taken literally. Different endings have different variations depending on the combination of characters alive at the end of the game.

The gameplay is focused on exploration, quick-time events and discovering clues as well as making decisions. There is an in-game system that will keep track of all the clues and secrets players have discovered in total, even if there are multiple playthroughs; these clues will allow the player to piece together the mysteries of Blackwood. In terms of the gameplay mechanics and theme, Until Dawn has been noted to be similar to Heavy Rain.

Plot

On 2 February 2014, seven friends: Sam (Hayden Panettiere), Mike (Brett Dalton), Chris (Noah Fleiss), Ashley (Galadriel Stineman), Emily (Nichole Bloom), Jessica (Meaghan Martin), and Matt (Jordan Fisher) are celebrating their annual winter getaway at the Blackwood Pines lodge, owned by their mutual friends, Josh Washington (Rami Malek) and his twin sisters, Hannah and Beth (Ella Lentini), located near Blackwood Mountain in Alberta, Canada. Mike, Ashley, Emily, Jessica, and Matt play a prank on Hannah because Hannah made a move on Mike who is in a relationship with Emily at that time, and they all (especially Jessica) want to "teach her a lesson". Hannah is successfully pranked into opening her shirt to make out with Mike, and then flees into the forest in humiliation under the snowstorm. As Beth follows her into the forest and discovers her, the two are hunted by a creature that corners them to a cliff, where they fall to their deaths. The chapter is followed by a therapy session with Dr. Hill (Peter Stormare), who poses a question to his patient; these sessions will come up in following chapters and will affect what contents of the game will be shown. His patient is concealed with the first-person view.

A year later, the bodies of Beth and Hannah still haven't been recovered, and the seven are invited by Josh to attend another getaway at the Blackwood Pines as a reconciliation and a way to put the past to rest. At this time Jessica and Mike are in a relationship, as are Matt and Emily. As they arrive, Emily and Jessica get into a fight, and Jessica decides to leave the lodge with Mike to stay at the guest cabin, while Emily and Matt decide to go back to retrieve Emily's bag which was left in the cable car station. Jessica is taken by an unknown creature after she and Mike arrive at the guest cabin, and depending on his choices Mike either finds Jessica dead or badly injured before the mine elevator collapses and takes her into the mines. Mike continues through the area, following a stranger who was lurking in the shadows, and enters a sanatorium, where he can befriend a wolf (one of the stranger's pets) as he learns about an incident in 1952 where 30 workers were trapped in a cave-in. Meanwhile, Chris and Ashley are attacked by a figure in a mask who kidnaps Ashley and forces her and Josh into a sawblade trap, forcing Chris to choose which one to save. Regardless of Chris' decision, Ashley survives and Josh is torn apart by the saw blades. Sam is stalked through the lodge by the masked figure and is either knocked unconscious or escapes into the killer's workshop. Returning to the cabin to search for Sam, Chris and Ashley are once again attacked and strapped to chairs. The figure forces Chris to decide whether to shoot himself or Ashley, and if he chooses to shoot Ashley it will lead to Chris's demise later. This is stopped by Sam and Mike, who have returned from the sanatorium, and the two discover that the guns are loaded with blanks. The figure is revealed to be a mentally unhinged Josh, who blames his friends for causing his sisters' disappearances. Josh explains that he had used a fake body to fake his death back in the saw trap, using pig blood and intestines. While he confirms having set up the traps, he denies having a role in Jessica's presumed demise, as he never wanted to actually kill anyone. Mike does not believe him and leaves Josh tied up in a shed.

Meanwhile, having met with Chris and Ashley before, Emily suggests to Matt that they should head to a radio tower for help. However, the tower collapses into an abandoned mine when she and Matt are attacked by unidentified creatures. Matt either escapes and ventures deeper into the mines, is killed by the creature, or falls off of a cliff during an earlier encounter with a herd of deer. Emily explores the mines, finding Beth's head and Hannah's personal effects, and learns that Hannah had survived her fall. She encounters the stranger that Mike had followed, who helps her escape from the creatures. In her escape, Emily can be killed or manages to get back to the lodge. She can also be bitten by the creature in her escape. If she survives, she tells the others of the creature and her discovery of Beth's head.

At the lodge, the stranger (Larry Fessenden) reveals himself and explains that the mountain was cursed by a First Nations tribe because people were destroying the nature in the area. The curse created creatures known as wendigos: humans who are starving to death in heavy winter storms on the mountain will eventually resort to eating human flesh, and eventually will be possessed by the evil spirits and turn into wendigos. He also explains that the wendigos hunt people from night until dawn. The wendigos are known for having hard skin, even gunshots cannot kill them. The only way to kill them is by burning them intensely, to free the evil spirits within them. Chris and the stranger attempt to free Josh in the shed, but find him gone, and the stranger is decapitated by the wendigos. Chris heads for the cabin, and is either killed by the wendigo, gets back to the lodge, or is left to die by Ashley if he tried to shoot her in the trap. If Emily is bitten by the wendigo, the group also debate on leaving her alone or to shoot her dead, fearing the wendigo bites are infectious. Either way, Mike goes to the sanatorium to find Josh, who has the key for the cable cars to get away from the lodge. Mike explores deeper into the sanatorium (and will be accompanied by Wolfie if the player befriends him on first visit) and find more clues about the miners who turned into wendigos, some of the wendigos which got loose chase Mike and he is forced to burn the sanatorium. Meanwhile, after Sam and others found out about the wendigos from The Stranger's journal, they decide to follow after Mike. Ashley and Chris can be lured to their deaths by a wendigo pretending to be Jessica in the mines from the lodge to Sanatorium. Sam and Mike can learn that Hannah was turned into a wendigo when she resorted to eating Beth's flesh to survive. Mike and Sam find Josh in the mine (who was thrown into the mines probably by Hannah), who is suffering from extreme hallucinations of his sisters. As Sam decides to go back to the lodge to warn her friends, Mike and Josh are ambushed by Hannah and if the player found enough clues about Hannah's transformation, Josh recognizes Hannah and is dragged off. If not, Josh is killed by Hannah.

Meanwhile, if Jessica and/or Matt are still alive they regroup and attempt to flee the mountain as they are being chased by the wendigo. Mike and Sam return to the cabin to meet with the other survivors, only to find that the wendigos from the sanatorium got loose, and joined by recently turned wendigo, Hannah. The survivors freeze, knowing the wendigos can only see movement. More wendigos arrive and start fighting with Hannah, as the only source of movement they can see. While the wendigos are fighting, one of the wendigos is thrown to the fireplace, breaking the gas pipe. Mike and Sam eventually decide to break a light bulb and use electricity to burn off the gas, exploding the lodge and depending on the player's actions, Sam and/or Mike and any other survivors can die before or while setting the lodge ablaze, but no matter what the lodge explodes and the wendigos are killed. The remaining survivors regroup as a helicopter locates them.

As the credits roll, those of the eight protagonists who did not survive have their death scenes replayed (with the time of their death added), followed by interviews with scenes of the police interrogation of the survivors. The police are warned by the survivors of what is within the mines. If Josh survived he's shown to now be in the process of transforming into a wendigo, if anyone else also survived then Josh is discovered by the police and he attacks them as the screen cuts to black.

Development

Until Dawn was originally announced for the PlayStation 3 and had the intent of utilizing Sony's PlayStation Move controller. Set in a first-person perspective, the PlayStation Move controlled the player's flashlight, and a torch would be used to switch between the eight playable characters.

The game first appeared at Gamescom 2012, with a trailer and gameplay footage being shown to the public. The gameplay footage focused on Mike and Jessica as they head towards a secluded cabin to have sex and be away from their friends. Soon after they arrive at the cabin, Jessica is dragged out a window by an unidentified assailant and Mike pursues her all the way to a mine shaft, only to discover her dead body on an elevator lift. The footage concluded with Mike about to be attacked by an unknown man.

With the game unreleased as 2013 came to a close, reports surfaced that Until Dawn was canceled. This was denied by developer Supermassive Games, who stated the game would be out at a later date.

Until Dawn reappeared at Gamescom 2014, where it was revealed the game was now a PlayStation 4 exclusive and took place in a third-person perspective. The DualShock 4's motion sensor replaced the PlayStation Move for controlling the player's flashlight, and the torch feature was dropped for a more traditional level approach, with the characters becoming playable in different parts of the game [3]. In addition to a new trailer, a demo was presented to the public for the first time, which focused on Ashley and Chris in their attempts to locate their missing friend Sam. This demo ended with the two in a deadly trap and Chris forced to either shoot Ashley or himself to stop the trap.

Another trailer and demo were released in December 2014. Intended to highlight the game's more action-oriented side (as opposed to the previous demo, which dealt with moral decisions), the demo placed players in the role of Sam during an encounter with the killer. Sam could either die, be knocked out, or escape by the demo's end.

A fourth trailer was released on Valentine's Day, which paid attention to the romantic relationships between the eight characters.

On May 26th, 2015, the game's release date was confirmed to be August 25th, 2015. This announcement coincided with a new trailer, which revealed the presence of Dr. Hill, a psychiatrist portrayed by Peter Stormare. It also announced a pre-order bonus which would include a bonus scene between Matt and Emily in the mountains, soon learning that they aren't alone. Multiple additions of the game were confirmed, which will include a standard edition of the game, an extended edition, and a steelbook edition.

At E3 2015, a demo was shown that followed Emily and Matt while they traveled to the radio tower in hopes of signaling for help. Depending on the choices made, Matt could be knocked off of a cliff or impaled with a fish hook, and Emily would fall off of the radio tower.

On July 13, 2015, Supermassive Games allowed certain video game reviewers to post ten minutes of footage. This footage included a video with showed the prologue of the game, where Beth Washington searched for her sister, Hannah Washington after some of the survivors played pranks on her, an updated version of the original video where Jessica and Mike head up to the cabin to have sex, only for Jessica to be captured and possibly killed by The Killer, and several other nine to ten minute segments of gameplay footage.

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