Best Bits is a series that highlights excellent mechanics or parts of a game. Whether they are thematic, intelligent or just enjoyable, this series wants to celebrate the best bits of games.
Until Dawn is a game where you play all the roles in a teen horror movie. You get to choose how each character acts, what they say and whether they live or die. It is a game where your decisions matter and affect the direction of the story. All of which is brilliant, but isn’t the best bit.
The best bit is that during Until Dawn, there are times when the game commands you not to move. Throughout these moments you must cling to your PS4 controller praying you don’t accidentally move. You are generally told ‘DON’T MOVE’ during scenes when the character you are controlling is trying to hide. This draws you into the game like never before. Not only are you controlling that character and deciding their fate, but for these brief moments, you are that character. You wholly embody the fear and adrenaline that they are carrying. ‘DON’T MOVE’ gives you a whole new understanding of that character and who they are. Are they the kind of person who would be unable to stay still during these intense, dangerous situations or can they control themselves long enough to remain hidden? You get to see deep into their souls and discover who they truly are.
One of the fantastic things about these moments is that they are short and infrequent. This serves to intensify the experience. Unlike the rest of the game where you can take your time to consider your choices and weigh your options, from your lofty position of director atop a film set, the ‘DON’T MOVE’ sections drag you into these characters.
The result is such a unique experience. Throughout Until Dawn, you can make these almost clinical decisions about relationships and a character’s ultimate fate. However, during ‘DON’T MOVE’ all of that disappears. This is replaced with urgency and makes you feel involved on an entirely different level. It adds a whole new layer of player interaction that games have never managed before. It is far, far different from a simple quick time event (of which there are many in Until Dawn). You aren’t pressing buttons at the right time to do something. Instead, you are frozen much like a character in the films this game apes so well.
Regardless of whether you live or die as a result of a ‘DON’T MOVE’ section, you feel responsible for the outcome. Were you the one who held your breath and clung, terrified to your controller so that your favourite character didn’t meet an untimely demise? Perhaps you were the one who lost their cool and quivered for a split-second and resulted in the death of someone else? Both of these are possible scenarios, and different people will have seen different results based on these tiny moments. Other games you might put the controller down and sip your tea during a scene. In Until Dawn, you might do that once but never again. ‘DON’T MOVE’ keeps you engaged at all times and the fear of it happening when you least expect it is almost as effective as when it does happen.
Until Dawn is an exceptional game, but ‘DON’T MOVE’ makes it transcend this into something extraordinary. All of the motion capture, acting and scene setting comes together to produce some of the most riveting, terrifying moments in video games. For those brief glimpses, you aren’t someone playing a game. Instead, you are a terrified teenager desperately trying to hide and remain still long enough to survive this chilling tale. You become part of the story, possessing these characters and that is why ‘DON’T MOVE’ is the best bit of Until Dawn.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, then please share it with your pals on social media or by other means (we aren’t picky). Also, we chat a bit more about Until Dawn on episode 6 of our podcast, so don’t forget to give that a listen.