[Sony Computer Entertainment Europe]
Most will have watched Brett Dalton being put through the emotional wringer as Grant Ward on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but you may not yet know that there’s a way you could be the one controlling every move he makes.
Until Dawn, a video game created for the PS4 by developer Supermassive Games, co-stars Brett as Mike Munroe, one of several characters whose every decision rests in your hands as the game progresses. The story is one that will be familiar to anyone who has picked up a teen slasher film – eight friends gather together at an inexplicably isolated ski lodge to commemorate the one year anniversary of their friends’ disappearance. Soon they find that their way off the mountain is no longer accessible as tensions mount, accusations are thrown and the group splinters. Needless to say, this is when everything goes to hell, as a madman stars terrorizing the group. However, as the group finds more and more clues regarding their dangerous situation, they quickly start to realize that nothing is quite as it seems.
Alongside Brett Dalton, in the role of Mike, the horror game also features well known actors Hayden Panettierre (Nashville) and Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) along with a slate of very talented up and coming young stars.
Utilising cutting edge technology for motion capture, both of facial expressions and body movement, every scene was filmed multiple times in order to provide seamless gameplay footage. The “Butterfly Effect” principle that rules the game, with player choices altering the fate of each character, also necessitated the shooting of multiple different story arcs in order to account for every eventuality. The decisions you make are far reaching, as the game doesn’t allow you to go back and replay sections until completion. This is a bold move in an age where we’re used to getting an instant do-over, but is also unique in enabling a replay where you author an entirely different story. Although the running time of the game is clocked at around 10 hours, the principal of cause and effect enables multiple replays in order to save (or sacrifice, depending on your mood) an entirely different group on your next attempt.
The game, originally intended for the PS3, was delayed in order to allow its move to the PS4 platform. This led to reshoots, with Brett filming the game over several weekends towards the latter half of the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Until Dawn was released to critical praise in August, performing considerably better than expected. This is almost certainly due to both the attention to detail of the gaming environment, ratcheting up the anxiety and scares as the game progresses, and the way in which the characters are truly brought to life by their actors. Starting off as little more than horror clichés, within an hour of gameplay you find yourself fighting to keep every character alive, no matter how impossible a task that may seem.
Brett’s character, Mike, starts off as little more than the frat-boy jock you’ve seen a million times in horror movies. He’s the one with the cheerleader girlfriend, and he’s more interested in getting laid than getting involved in a serious conversation. In a neat twist though, Mike’s girlfriend is one of the earliest characters to go missing, and his subsequent mission to find her makes him one of the most compelling characters in the game, thus showcasing Brett’s range as an actor. Ultimately, Mike’s point of view is one that you spend a lot of time in as the game progresses, and he’s not above gettin his hands (as well as the rest of him) dirty in his mission to find his missing friends. Playing Until Dawn gives you the sense that maybe, just like Mike, we all have the potential to become the hero of the story.
Until Dawn is out now for Playstation 4