Do you enjoy horror movies? Do any of the following tickle your fancy?
- A deranged killer prowling around in the basement of a long-abandoned hotel
- Scary little dolls with no eyes
- Clown masks
- Frightened young women, who have not quite completed bathtime
- Scary and very sudden full-screen horror face
- Ghostly woman floating dreamily through corridors
- Grinning psychopath leaping out of shadows wielding sharp but anachronistic implement
- Horrible 'one of us has to die, but who is it going to be?' moral choices
- Things that go bump in the night
- Annoying teenagers whose variously unhelpful hysteria or overly rational skepticism is a sure death-sentence.
All these and more feature in Until Dawn, a horror game for PlayStation 4, coming out next year. Featuring the distinctive acting talent of Hayden Panettiere (Heroes, Nashville) and some super-neato facial capture, it's a game that aims to fill your underpants with poo. Case in point; when I encountered 'scary and very sudden full-screen horror face', during a hands-on demo yesterday for example, the game's aim came all-too close to realization.
Previously a dumb PlayStation 3 Move game, played in first-person, it's now a third-person schlock-horror adventure, that will be familiar to anyone who enjoys teen horror flicks.
Interactivity is achieved through exploration, investigation, dialog choices, puzzles and the odd Quicktime Event. The game shifts quickly between performed scenes and playtime, and moves along at a clip. There are scarier games, in terms of atmosphere, for sure, but few that throw quite as many frights at the player with so much glee.
Also interesting, you play as eight different people stuck in a scary mansion, and your choices have an effect on the game to such an extent that you dictate who lives and who dies. A butterfly logo thingie appears in the screen (it's the Butterfly Effect, geddit?) when you have one of those 'the game will remember this choice' moments, even though its significance may not become clear for some time.
Given the complexity of choice-trees in games, it will be interesting to see how this plays out from a narrative viewpoint, especially as you are controlling (at least to begin with) eight people.
Anyway, playing a mid-game level of Until Dawn, I found it pretty scary at times, though mostly in very conventional ways, which is no bad thing. If I find myself shitting my pants at corny horror tricks, what chance would I have with something totally out there?