Until Dawn Is Much Shorter When You're Bad At Quick Time Events

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.


    My first playthrough with a mate we saved everyone except Mike, at which point my mate said "fuck that, we've got to go back and save him. No way is Mike dying!"

    Thank goodness for chapter select :-)

      Killing Mike is difficult! I'm impressed!

        Ha ha, potential spoiler below:

        We didn't think that Sam should stay still to escape Hannah's notice for the third time in a row. I had visions that after everyone except Mike had slipped out the door, Sam and Mike would make a run for it together. Nope. Sam just skipped past Mike and burnt him to a crisp on the way out. I think we were justifiably disgruntled over that!

        By the way, Sam is super easy to get killed if you are shaking with adrenaline!

          I just put the controller down next to me for those bits, with a finger poised above the buttons just in case the game tried to catch me out doing it :P

            I was scared to do that because I thought I wouldn't be quick enough with putting the controller down and the game would interpret it as moving :-P

            Wow I never thought of that. I had to do my best to hold still with 2 mates cracking jokes next to me.

      The same thing happened with me, it was just towards the end of the game where its the big showdown/escape against the wendigos, and we jumped the gun and ran out before saving mike

      I immediately pressed PS and exited the game before any kind of saving could kick in tho, so i could give it another crack lol. no chapter select for me.

    so basically you can't lose this game? what's the point?

      On the contrary, it's more punishing because you can't ever replay segments. If you fuck up and someone dies, they're dead for good. It's permadeath, only as part of a narrative.

        Yeah, you need to either PS-button-close-application very quickly or wait until the end of the game to go back through chapter select.

        EDIT: or the ever cheeky 'upload-local-save-to-PS+-for-emergency-use'

        Last edited 15/10/15 3:56 pm

      Depends how you define "lose" - how many people do you need to keep alive to consider it a "win"?

    It's actually surprised me how many speedrunning strategies involve purposely losing events or dying.

    Last edited 15/10/15 3:45 pm

    Didn't realise you can get Jess's top off in the cabin. I must have been a lousy boyfriend as I never got that far before.

      Surprisingly the game actually implies that's the 'wrong' action. Instead of "Jess resisted Mike's advances" in the butterfly effect, you get "Jess was a pushover!"

      You just have to give her confidence (schmooze her) so she 'overcomes her insecurities'. There's a surprising number of things you need to do to get the full monty (underwear).

        That was my problem. Played the game with my wife. Didn't want to appear too invested in getting a teenage girl out of her clothes.

    Is this a good game to play with a group of people? I've been seriously considering it but I'm not 100% sure.

      Absolutely fantastic with friends. You can pass around the controller or do like I did: I controlled movement and quicktime events, while my friend called out quicktime choices. The untimed choices we discussed before deciding. Excellent fun was had.

      Just note that you might need to schedule at least 2 sessions because even playing quickly, the game goes for about 8-9 hours (unless you end up killing everyone!)

      (it's also less scary to play with friends!)

        @hayleywilliams as well

        Lol, OK yeah that seems great. I have a group of 4 or 5 friends that get together for games nights for a few hours every couple of weeks. We do video games and card games with pizza etc. We've recently gone through the Last of Us and Shadow of the Colossus which was great fun and are looking at doing this or Alien Isolation next for some scares (We have a screamer who we like to make play the intense bits *evil laugh*) this sounds like a great idea.

          While Alien Isolation is an incredible game, Until Dawn is definitely much better for the social aspect.
          Oh and if you're after some quick, pass the controller kind of horror, check out Monstrum as well. It's short, individually contained games where everything is procedurally generated (including the monster that's stalking you)

            Cool thanks, I'll have to start persuading the group haha.

      I actually had someone tell me that they played it with 4 people, and each person was assigned 2 characters each.
      They get the controller when it's controlling their assigned character, and each person had the task of keeping their two characters alive. I really really want to play it like this now actually.

        that doesn't seem too hard to program in either, have 1-4 controllers plugged in and assign characters to each controller before playing, would be interesting to have that in the base game

    You can hit all those QTE's as Mike and still not save Jessica. I chose the other option when I shouldve jumped and even though I hit every QTE Jessica still got her jaw ripped off.

    Last edited 15/10/15 4:48 pm

      Yeah you also have to take all the shortcuts. It's rough. Letting him fail the QTEs is hilarious though.

    Would be funnier if the game ending was completely the opposite and everyone survived by fluke chances if you missed EVERY quicktime... or breaks the fourth wall and pans out to a movie set and a director insults all the actors for messing up all the stunts.

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