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The psychological torture of this PlayStation Plus game needs to be studied

The psychological torture of this PlayStation Plus game needs to be studied

PlayStation Plus boasts one of the best horror games of all time

I finished Until Dawn for the first time this year, and I don’t think I’ve fully recovered from the trauma yet.

As far as PlayStation exclusives go, I’d consider Until Dawn to be one of the best. It’s entertaining, long enough to last a weekend but short enough to replay without feeling overwhelmed, and the most important factor for any horror game, it’s relentlessly tense and spooky. It's also available on PlayStation Plus right now.

Check out the trailer for the upcoming PS5 and PC remake of Until Dawn below.

The story follows a group of teenagers on a weekend getaway to their friend’s family estate up in the mountains. The only way up and down is via a cable car, and the mountain itself has history etched all over it, the majority of which isn’t good in the slightest.

It’s also an important location for the group, as the last time they visited, two of their friends died in a horrible accident, though none of them were there to see what exactly happened and who, or what, was responsible.

So the game is about solving the mystery of the mountain, as well as surviving until dawn arrives, leading into a survival horror experience like nothing I’d experienced before playing.

Until Dawn is unique in the sense that it plays on your very own fears, and devotes itself to learning what gets you spooked and using it to its advantage. This is done through clever survey questions, and while you can somewhat guess how the game will utilise your fear of spiders or creepy clowns, you never truly know what horrors it’ll have in store for you on your first playthrough.

However another way the game scares you is through your own choices. Until Dawn is structured as an intricate web of cause and effect, with even the most minor decisions having big implications on the main story. You can never really tell what impact your chosen dialogue or split-second decision will mean for you a few chapters ahead, and sometimes it means absolutely nothing, not that it tells you that.

Until Dawn-
Sony Computer Entertainment

Without giving too much away, there are scenes when a character is running through a series of quick-time events. You have seconds at most to ensure your character avoids obstacles, and are often given the choice of what looks to be a safe path forward, or a slightly quicker but more treacherous one. These are entirely situational, and sometimes taking the path of least resistance is actually the worst thing you can do, whereas other times it makes slightly more sense.

That’s where the horror of Until Dawn truly lies, not in the occasional jump scare or thrilling chase sequence, but the way it tests your decision making process and forces you to live with the consequences of it. The wrong move can result in any of the eight characters dying, and once they’re dead, they’re gone for good, no rewinds or resurrections.

It makes matters worse when you actually start to like some of the characters, as many give off that horror film protagonist energy where you want more than anything to see them make it out alive. This makes it all the more chilling when you see your favourite die a gruesome death, knowing that you’re solely responsible for their fate.

My initial playthrough took around five to six hours, and it was honestly one of the most psychologically distressing experiences of my life. I lost one character right at the end of my playthrough, literally during the final quick-time event of the game and I was thinking about it for days afterwards.

I couldn’t predict a thing about Until Dawn’s story, like when I didn’t realise the significance of a flare gun and which character should hold on to it. There were even times when I was positively sure I was making the right call only for the game to throw a curveball at me two chapters after.

Until Dawn-
Sony Computer Entertainment

It was a stroke of genius to design a horror game that made your own poor decision making skills the main antagonist, especially when the stakes are so high. Even if you get all of the characters out safely, you can still technically lose the game and not solve the mystery. I can almost guarantee that you will never second-guess yourself more than playing Until Dawn, and the amount of gaslighting from the game itself, my confused brain and my scheming friend going “uh oh” after every decision I made was unforgettable.

Until Dawn is one of the most thrilling horror experiences I’ve ever played, and I wholeheartedly recommend playing it if you’ve got the time. It’s available as part of PlayStatin Plus’ Extra game catalogue, and I’d suggest playing it before the remake later this year, as it sounds like there are going to be a few changes to the story.

Featured Image Credit: Sony/Sony Computer Entertainment

Topics: Playstation Plus, PlayStation, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Sony