Features// Until Dawn: The Surprise Multiplayer Hit of the Year

Posted 22 Sep 2015 16:12 by
Until Dawn is a single player game. It is in the traditional sense, anyway.

The menu has no option to play with more than one controller, it hasnít got any competitive modes and itís not score-based, yet Iíve found the game even more enjoyable when played with someone else alongside me.

I was about two hours into it when I stopped and decided that I wanted to start over. Not because of the decisions I had made, but because I wanted to share the experience with my brother.

Heís not a big gamer. We used to play games growing up but as I was sinking deeper into the world of videogames he seemed to drift away. Those days of tense Pro Evolution Soccer matches fell apart as my obsession grew and we were no longer equally matched.

Itís a shame, losing someone you played so much with. It changes your path on what games you look out for and it feels like a big part of my youth died out. When I moved out of my family home that death was officially confirmed.

I no longer played games with my brother or my Dad and instead turned to online gaming to get my multiplayer fix. When I left, so did my consoles and because of that my brother completely stopped playing anything and wasnít really interested when I brought my consoles home for the weekend.

I tried several times to get things going with him but nothing hit home. Nintendo managed to drag him back in for a short period with Wii Sports but that fad died out pretty quickly and we were back to trying to make conversation rather than virtually batter each other.

These days when my brother and I meet up we usually watch a film, talk about comedy and eat far too much pizza. Last week was different though. I packed up my PS4, stuck in Until Dawn and we and we sat down to see if we could relive the years we spent sharing a bedroom.

Playing a single-player game with others in the room is not something I make a habit of. Itís usually awkward for everyone involved. Like someone watching over your shoulder as you read a book, but thinking youíre an idiot for turning the pages incorrectly and having to start the last chapter over again.

Recently, I got swept away with the hype of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Iím not the biggest Metal Gear fan so wasnít really looking out for it but as everyone lost their shit on twitter I couldnít ignore it. Remembering that I had a copy of Ground Zeroes I put it on to try and help me get over the chatter without leaving a £50 hole in my wallet.

I did so in front of one of my best mates. We lasted about five minutes. The problem with playing a game like Ground Zeroes with a friend is that you end up hating them. Every choice you make in that game can lead to failure. Every moment is important and if you mess up then you have to do it again.

Ground Zeroes is fantastic, Iím not taking anything away from that, itís just not the sort of game you want to experience in the presence of company. Itís a true single-player game and I enjoyed it a lot more once my mate had pissed off.

E3 2015
E3 2015
As the usual hurdles of a non-gamer - for want of a better phrase - picking up a pad again were over with, my brother and I started to find ourselves fully involved with Until Dawn. We were wrapped up in the spirit of it, laughing at the deaths, questioning our choices and slagging off the characters we didnít like.

Until Dawnís tone is perfect. Itís a camp slasher film channelling the likes of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. The characters in it are completely unlikable. Rich kids, living high school lives with petty drama. The sort that you wouldnít mind seeing torn to pieces by crazed killer.

Because thereís no one to root for, your choices become a little less meaningful. Thatís not a bad thing. You still have to think over your decisions in order to influence the story the way you want to, but the pressure is off. If you make a mistake, thereís no going back to a checkpoint and the game doesnít feel as though it weakens when one of its characters smashes their head open.

E3 2015
E3 2015
Itís more about being a director than a player, which when playing with a friend leaves all choices open to discussion. We werenít playing to try and reach a Ďbestí ending, but trying to mix things up to create a better story.

Take, for example, confrontation. When I play these sort of games I make personal choices. If an argument breaks out I try my best to defuse the situation so that it doesnít escalate. With Until Dawn we were more interested in mixing things up and the gameís drama improved as a result.

Although the game offers moral choices, it doesnít ask the player to make them. Instead, youíre more likely to roleplay, molding the characters the way you want to as story progresses and the satisfaction you get as your choices unfold are better than any film could possibly achieve.

After a couple of hours had gone past, weíd been through many phases. From wondering if it was worth turning off and going back to our usual Saturday night to my brother making the character walk around in circles because it was funny to finally sitting on the edge of our seats barking orders at each other.

Weíd fallen for it and it managed to achieve what many a game failed to do in the past decade. It got us gaming.

The next morning I woke up with a mixed taste of stale beer and pizza in my mouth. I checked my phone and read the text my brother had sent me. ĎI enjoyed last nightí. So did I.

So thatís why Until Dawn is the surprise multiplayer hit of the year. Itís a game thatís fun to play alone but, to get the most out of it, it demands the arguments over decisions, the laughter at the deaths and the tense moments that youíll both share as one of you is stumbling around in the dark.

Not only did it fill us with nostalgia of the horror films we grew up with, but we sat side by side with a pad in our hands laughing and joking along in front of a console. For a moment it felt like we were back in our bedroom finding the highest point we could in Tomb Raider and flinging Lara Croft to her death.

So if this game has passed you by (and youíd be forgiven for that considering the amount of games that have been released recently) may I suggest picking it up, calling an old mate and getting together to play a different type of multi-player game? Because Until Dawn is worth your time.

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