From Dusk Till Dawn incorporates some innovations into the survival horror genre and, in general, gets a good many things right in presenting a more traditional idea of horror. Unfortunately, sloppy gameplay negates the gains made in development. Designer Hubert Chardot, creator of Alone in the Dark, infuses the somewhat stale genre with a new approach, by stripping the game to its bare essentials, not by adding elements that get in the way.
The action is simple -- find weapons, then hunt down monsters and blow them away. No frilly, wacky puzzles to solve, no need to combine obscure items, find specially marked crests, or play piano keys in a special order. The only requirement is to have good aim and be quick on the trigger.
The one-person-against-all formula of survival horror games has always eschewed the basic tenet of horror -- to heighten suspense, there must be a group of people slowly being whittled down by lurking monsters or maniacs. From Dusk Till Dawn incorporates the feature nicely, letting you discover characters during the adventure that won't always hang around or survive, but do add an innovative element of support as you fight the undead.
Another horror feature employed is the idea of defending a specific locale from monsters instead of continuously trudging into the unknown. Movies like Night of the Living Dead and From Dusk Till Dawn use the technique to advantage, as does the game with extended sequences requiring you to beat back the ghoulish minions to survive. It's a simple enough idea, but definitely serves to add tension.
Despite these innovations, as well as a couple of mini-games you'll want to revisit repeatedly during the course of your nightmarish adventure, gameplay simply doesn't support the structure. No matter how creative or interesting the design may be, if a game doesn't play well, it creates a type of horror in its own right.
Controls are absolutely brutal, and in a genre not known for innovative control schemes, this aspect of From Dawn Till Dusk stands out miserably. In a game where action is the focus, control is an area needing special attention since twitch gaming requires twitch response. Unfortunately, your character seems to float more than move, and is sluggish, unresponsive, and imprecise at the moments his skills are needed the most.
Gameplay is also unbalanced and unpolished. Reloading saves often results in a crash to the desktop with no warning, or your character might turn a corner and get stuck in a wall. The impurities require you to save constantly, since the next bug you encounter may be electronic and negate the last hour of play by killing the game, not the character.
A final nail in the coffin, so to speak, is the game's deplorable graphics, even on high-end systems. Models are horrible, and animation shifts and stutters to a great degree. While up to 15 characters can share the screen at one time (the probable cause for the lack of detail), the resultant blocky mess is atrocious. The sound, especially the dialogue, frequently makes almost no sense whatsoever, and is almost unintentionally humorous due to its awfulness, though the silly catchphrases your character repeats ad-nauseam aren't funny at all.
From Dusk Till Dawn could have been a contender, but clever ideas in game design don't matter when execution fails. The game is unstable, sloppy, and hard to control, which is a shame, since done right, it might have been a shot in the arm to a slowly dying genre.
Graphics: The locales are diverse and offer plenty to look at, but the characters and animation are uniformly bad.
Sound: The awful and often unintentionally funny voice acting doesn't inspire the kind of horror the designers might have intended. The score is average, occasionally helping to deliver some ambient chills.
Enjoyment: The good ideas are negated by sloppy and bad gameplay, which is too bad since more attention to controls and graphics could have put the game over the top.
Replay Value: A few dedicated gamers may complete the adventure despite the awful controls, but no one will want to play twice.
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