How to try (and fail) surviving ‘Until Dawn’

By Austin Miller, @AMiller_DE

Butterflies are usually pretty little bugs decorating little girls’ rooms.

However, “Until Dawn” makes butterflies the most terrifying insect in the animal kingdom. Not literal butterflies, but rather the butterfly effect.

The story takes place one year after two sisters mysteriously vanish during a vacation in the Canadian wilderness.


“Until Dawn” is based on making decisions. Saying one thing instead of another can alter the relationships between the eight playable characters. Investigating a noise in the forest instead of following footprints can lead players down an unfortunate road to death.

Each choice leads to a different endgame. Developer Supermassive Games claims there are hundreds of possible endings, some having all the characters survive.

Six characters met their maker by the end of my playthrough, so I can offer no advice in saving all of them and do not want to spoil anything. But that is what makes “Until Dawn” so great.

Players cannot just exit and restart if their favorite character dies. That is it — they are gone. And you feel for everyone that dies. Hopefully you save more people than I did.

There is an overall story arc, but how players get there is completely up to them. You choose your own adventure whether you like it or not.

“Until Dawn” looks like a clichéd and generic horror game on the surface: A bunch of teenagers go to a cabin in the woods, where some lunatic runs around in a clown mask and jump scares litter gameplay, but the butterfly effect system creates a nuanced game.


Calling them cutscenes feels cheap because the game is more than just a game. It is some kind of hybrid of a movie and a game starring Hayden Panettiere, Peter Stormare and Romi Malek — all legitimate actors with captivating performances. 

As bad as the horror genre has been on film, this is the best horror game and may be the best horror film in the last couple years. Think of it as the “Cabin in the Woods” of video games.

Other games have tried doing choice-based narratives, but “Until Dawn” does it the best. The Walking Dead series by Telltale is loved by many for its similar style and has a better story, but everyone who plays it will experience 97 percent of the same things — there is no variety.

Players of “Until Dawn” will actually experience different versions of the same game and this type of interactivity is the future of the video games. The game is designed for gamers to play it more than once so they can try experiencing the many twists and turns.

Clocking in at less than nine hours to complete, players do not have to stay up until dawn every night [pun intended] to complete it. Even after finishing the game once, I cannot wait to play the game again. Hopefully more characters can survive the ride with me. 

Stars: 4 out of 5

Austin Miller can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AMiller_DE