rionaleonhart: harry potter: extremely poorly-drawn dumbledore fleeing and yelling NOOOOOOOOO. (NOOOOOOOOO)
Riona ([personal profile] rionaleonhart) wrote2017-06-20 10:00 am

The Biggest Douchebag On Douchebag Mountain.

I have been thinking way too much about the deaths in Until Dawn.

If you're terrible at QTEs but make all the right decisions in Until Dawn, one character will survive and escape: Ashley, who can only be killed by a bad decision. I wonder whether that was a deliberate choice, giving players who struggle with QTEs a character they'll find easier to keep alive. If you're great at QTEs but make consistently terrible decisions, one character will survive and escape: Sam, who can only be killed by failing a Don't Move segment (and who actually becomes easier to keep alive if you make bad decisions).

I was first introduced to Until Dawn by the Scary Games Squad's Let's Play, and they theorised that maybe the best way to play was to try to keep the characters 'in-character': make your decisions based on the traits you know the characters have. In some respects, this is a strategy that'll serve you well: playing Mike as brave will help him save Jessica, playing Chris as protective will keep Ashley from locking him out. But Ashley is inquisitive; keeping her in character when she hears the voice from the trapdoor isn't going to go well for her!

I'm really curious now: in an 'in-character' run, assuming that all survival-critical QTEs are passed, who survives and who doesn't? For characterisation purposes I'm considering in-game behaviour, menu screen stats and the little floaty words that pop up around characters on their introductory screens (e.g. Sam is described as 'diligent', 'considerate' and 'adventurous').

- Sam survives; as mentioned previously, she can only die by QTE. More crucially, though, Sam is considerate, so she won't blow up the lodge too early; she'll take a moment to think and go 'hang on, this will kill everyone else.'
- Mike therefore survives; he can only die if Sam fails a specific QTE (in which case he'll sacrifice his life to save her), if she does nothing rather than distracting the wendigo approaching him (her high bravery stat means she'll save him), or if she blows up the lodge with him still inside. It never really occurred to me before, but Mike's survival hinges entirely on Sam.
- Inquisitive Ashley goes for the trapdoor and dies.
- As mentioned, Chris, being protective, would shoot himself rather than Ashley, so Ashley won't lock him out later on. If Ashley leaves Chris behind before opening the trapdoor, Chris will die, but I don't think Ashley would leave him; I think she'd insist, correctly, that it's better to stick together. Chris survives.
- Matt... hmm. I feel it's probably not good for Matt. He obviously cares a lot about Emily, so he'd try to save her. And, in an in-character run, I don't think Emily would give him the flare gun; she's the sort of person who likes to stay in control of a situation. So Matt's screwed.
- Jess survives. Mike's bravery means he reaches her in time. If Matt dies, Jess is the one making decisions in the mines later on, and I don't think she'd try to run; she's presumably aware that she's far too messed up to get far. Even if Matt survives, I think he's got enough awareness to go, 'Hmm, probably not a great idea to run with Jess in this condition,' and enough kindness not to abandon her.
- If Emily keeps the flare gun, there's a chance she won't get bitten, in which case her survival is assured. If she does get bitten, would it be more in-character for Mike to shoot her or let her go? I don't think he'd be able to bring himself to do it. So many of his actions are driven by the desire to get the others out alive; I don't think he'd kill Emily before he was sure she was a danger to them. So Emily lives.
- Both Mike and Sam have relatively low curiosity stats and high bravery, so they go straight for the wendigo's lair rather than looking around thoroughly. They don't find Hannah's diary. Josh is killed. Whoops. It might be better than the alternative, at least.

Survivors: Sam, Mike, Chris, Jess, Emily.
Losses: Ashley, Matt, Josh.

Not a flawless strategy, but it could be worse! As I mentioned, the Scary Games Squad thought that 'play it in-character' might be the best strategy, and their only loss was one of the characters on the 'losses' list here: Matt. Their 'don't split up' rule overrode Ashley's curiosity when she heard the voice, and no gamer in the world would look at Mike and Sam's curiosity stats and go 'hmm, I suppose that means I'd better not explore.'

(EDIT: Hang on, I've just had a proper look at Matt's stat page, and his bravery's pretty low. Maybe he'd jump to safety when Emily is dangling? In that case, he'd survive. Low bravery might also lead him to abandon Jess and get her killed, but his charitability is high (and so is his relationship with Jess - it's equal to his relationship with Emily, surprisingly!), so I don't think he would; there's a difference between 'Emily needs help, but it'd clearly be incredibly difficult to get down there and help her, so I might as well jump to somewhere safe and look at the problem from a different angle' and 'hey, maybe I can get away from the monster by feeding Jess to it'.)

Something that struck me while I was looking up character stats for this entry: Mike's 'romantic' stat is very high, whereas Sam's is very low. Setting them up for one of my favourite het relationship dynamics, where she's just here for a friends-with-benefits thing and he's painfully in love with her. Sorry, Mike.
wolfy_writing: (Default)

[personal profile] wolfy_writing 2017-06-20 04:58 pm (UTC)(link)
Ooh, the idea of a game that rewards you for accurate characterization is really interesting! It presents a very different kind of challenge.
wolfy_writing: (Default)

[personal profile] wolfy_writing 2017-06-20 05:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Now I want there to be a game where that happens, and the better you are at picking up characterization clues, the closer you get to the ultra-happy ending. design is complicated and probably not something I could casually learn, right? (I mean I don't even play games, due to being terrible at them.)
wolfy_writing: (Default)

[personal profile] wolfy_writing 2017-06-20 05:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes, so much cooler! And like it could work on two levels - you have to work out what's the in-character choice for people, and you have to work out how to make effective use of their personality traits, like working out who would panic in a fight, who can't be trusted not to wander off, who would throw themselves into danger to save their friends, and not put them in that situation.
thenicochan: (Chris Until Dawn)

[personal profile] thenicochan 2017-06-20 05:41 pm (UTC)(link)
You’ve got solid reasoning here, but I’ll play devil’s advocate for a second:

Ashley’s very inquisitive, yes, but she’s also something of a coward. Her bravery isn’t particularly noteworthy, in the stat menu or the narrative, and her continued reluctance to look for Sam (to the point a best case scenario is her finding strength because Chris is with her and adamant they not leave their friend behind) gives credence to the idea that she might completely bypass the sound of Jessica’s screams entirely. At that point she’s pretty rattled, and probably not keen on separating from the group. I think it’s honestly just as likely she kept with the others instead of nosing around in conspicuously placed trapdoors.

Matt’s a toughie. I feel that he swings the most wildly in personality of any other character, which makes him a bit harder to pin down. I do think he’d try to save Emily too—but everyone has a breaking point. He’s the hardest for me to really imagine a most “in-character” run.

Emily being shot by Mike is certainly possible—hence the, well, possibility—but I have a really hard time seeing him actually going through with it, like you said. Forgoing the fact he has a background and established fondness (or had, whichever) for her, I don’t think he’s so far gone to the point he’d execute one of his friends just because Ashley “OhMyGawdOhMyGawdOhMaiGawwwdddd” Instigator was freaking out.

Josh is a tricky one. Part of me agrees because the two are pretty focused on survival at that point (not that survival and exploration for alternate pathways out of the caves are mutually exclusive, but…) yet the discovery that the scary-ass Wendigo is actually Hannah gives so much weight to the overall narrative…meh. Of course, barring some of the well-written wish fulfillment scenarios where Josh’s wendigo-ism can be “managed”, I’m thinking getting his head crushed would be preferable in the long run.

Something that struck me while I was looking up character stats for this entry: Mike's 'romantic' stat is very high, whereas Sam's is very low. Setting them up for one of my favourite het relationship dynamics, where she's just here for a friends-with-benefits thing and he's painfully in love with her. Sorry, Mike

I can see this. And I love it.
thenicochan: (Chris Until Dawn)

[personal profile] thenicochan 2017-06-21 01:58 pm (UTC)(link)
I've taken issue with Sam's stats before. She really is pretty funny. Very dry, with a good sense of humor. She plays off Chris's "You just got monked!" prank, even begrudgingly complimenting him. None of these things seem to reflect someone without a strong sense of humor.

For how jealous Matt can be, he can equally show signs of being staunchly uncombative. I think that's what makes him such a hard read: when faced with two options it's always at two extremes. Instigate a fight with Mike to prove you've got the bigger dick or submissively keep the peace? Choose a side between two arguing women and risk one of them getting angry or go back-and-forth between them assuring both of them they're right to submissively keep the peace? Punch an elk in the fuckin' face or not?

I assume Sam and Mike don't actually know exactly where the wendigo's lair is, so it's possible they might just stumble across the diary while looking for it.

That was my mindset. It's unfortunate, if the characters had the same camera perspective the player is given, Hannah may have very well likely found a way to escape the caves on her own.