Until Dawn is one of the shorter games released this year, with its ‘hours until dawn’ episode structure limiting the amount of time you can actually put into each playthrough. The game spans around ten hours of in-game time, with the average playthrough usually matching this quite closely in real time. For completionists, the game can be upwards of twelve hours — but it turns out that Until Dawn can also be speedrun — in the worst way possible.
If you have yet to play Until Dawn, be careful of spoilers going forward — but if you have, here’s a look at what your playthrough might have been like if you’re terrible at the game’s mechanics. One of the most talked-about elements of Until Dawn is the fact that everyone can die. Most of these potential deaths are clustered in the last two chapters of the game, but some of them can actually happen far earlier, cutting out potential scenes in the last chapter. Jess, the wendigo’s potential first victim, is one of the hardest characters to save, requiring good decision-making and quick reflexes. Of course, if you don’t care too much about saving her, watching Mike fumble his way through this scene full of failed quick time events can be downright hilarious.
Worst. Jock. Ever. Miss too many of these quick time events in the chase scene, and Mike will lose his girlfriend to the jealous wendigo in a really gruesome way.
This, of course, means that you get to skip the scene of Jess waking up in the mine a couple of chapters later. If you manage to kill Matt off as well (it’s really not hard at all, especially if you’re bad at QTEs) then you’ll skip yet another scene that has him and Jess escaping the wendigo right near the end of the game. That’s a half hour already shaved off our playthrough. Killing Matt off via the angry herd of deer also has the added advantage of skipping a bunch of dialogue and interactions between him and Emily.
Emily is another character who has an extensive mine exploration scene, followed by a tense wendigo chase which has the potential to be very, very fatal. Getting rid of Emily at this stage streamlines the rest of the game to a huge degree. You never get her reunion scene with the rest of the characters, her heartfelt moment with Mike and her less heartfelt moment with Mike and Mike’s revolver. In fact, no one even mentions Emily again. You’d almost think they were happy to have her gone.
It’s not only character deaths that shave hours off the game. If you’ve played or watched Until Dawn already, you may have discerned that Sam and Mike — as the game’s obvious Main Characters — are protected by some pretty strong plot armour. That doesn’t mean they’re entirely immune to punishment from missed QTEs, however. Some scenes can be simply cut short if you miss too many prompts, like this one in the mines. Succumbing to the wendigo at this point cuts out an extended exploration scene — and means that it’s up to Sam to come and rescue Mike a few scenes later.
How much time does this all chop off the game? One playthrough on YouTube (listed as ‘Failed, Odd and No Choices‘) clocks in at just over five hours. That’s nearly half the time of a regular playthrough. While it’s an odd way to speedrun a game, it’s evidently very possible to do — as long as you’re not afraid to kill a few teens.