Horror often relies on what the camera and therefore the audience does not immediately see to increase suspense and set up scenes like jump scares. Video game creators accomplish this not just through near-constant darkness but also through the limited perspective of the “camera.” In games like “Until Dawn,” in which action scenes are interspersed with dialogue options and relationship-building, the player does not control the angle of the camera. This allows the camera to focus on a character’s facial expressions or point out a detail in the scene, moving the story forward while keeping the player more engaged than a cutscene would. For instance, when Ashley, Josh, and Chris use the spirit board to communicate with what they believe is the spirit of Josh’s sister, we get several close-ups of Ashley’s face as we choose her dialogue and then of Josh and Chris as they react to whatever she says. In this case, the visible tension between the characters is what builds suspense, as the player knows that every choice they make will affect the story.
This character-focused perspective also hides information. When we discover that Josh was playing a prank on his friends, the audience has to wonder how he set up aspects of the prank, like the spirit board. Upon review, we can’t quite see how the pointer flies off the table or what Josh’s hands were doing. The obfuscation of reality heightens tension in the scene and leaves us as confused and scared as Ashley and Chris.