Until Dawn EP9: The Pants Were Dead

By Shamus
on Nov 25, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

Warning: This episode is where the game gets to be really gruesome. And no, I don’t mean Chris’ haircut. I mean people die in really nasty ways. Proceed at your own risk.


Link (YouTube)

For reference: The “Pants were dead” gag is a reference to this vintage video.

I’m glad someone else is playing, because this is the part where I would put the controller down because I’m not having a good time. I’d intend to come back later, but I probably wouldn’t. Watching Josh get buzz-sawed in half while he begs for his life is just a little too unpleasant for me in terms of human suffering. I know everyone has a different tolerance for this sort of thing and react differently when they see something they don’t like, but this seems to be about my limit.

The buzz saw scene was really frustrating. I can’t tell what the options were, gameplay-wise. My first instinct was, “Ah! An electric saw. Let’s figure out how to cut the power!” But the game railroads you into saying you plan to save only one person. And saying that line sets the saw in motion. The game never cut you loose from quicktime mode to look for other solutions, which is what I really wanted to do.

I’m actually dealing with a one-two punch of unpleasantness and unbelief. Regardless of what justifications are offered later, we see a man slowly moseying away from Mike while supposedly dragging a heavy, belligerent, physically-fit person. Meanwhile, Mike is sprinting through obstacles like an Olympian. And yet despite his speed, his shortcuts, and his not-carrying-a-difficult-teenager, Mike is constantly outpaced by the killer. That makes it really hard for me to believe in this world. At the same time, Josh’s apparent death makes me not want to believe in this world. The writer is asking me to grant them tons of leeway so I can continue to be immersed in a story I’m not enjoying that hasn’t given me a single character I can really root for.

By this point in the story a horror movie has usually established a villain. The townsfolk have told some stories about the beast that’s been spotted on the edge of the swamp in October. Or the old woman told a story about what happened in this old manor a hundred years ago. Or the bookish old guy has revealed the town’s secret history of witch-burning. Whatever. By this point we have some kind of frame of reference for what kind of story we’re seeing and what the stakes are. Maybe we know the killer’s goals and we’re working to stop them, or we know the protagonists goals and how they plan to to save themselves. But here we are 3 hours into Until Dawn and the writer still hasn’t bothered to tell us what kind of story this is. They’re asking a lot, and not giving me any reason to go along with it.

So yeah. As of right now, this game isn’t working for me at all.

We’ll see if things turn around and it’s able to win me back in the next couple of episodes.

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  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I mean people die in really nasty ways.

    You mean polygons made by motion capturing real actors portraying fictional people?

    Unless this is a first ever snuff video game.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Come on mike,why did you throw away that shotgun?I hate this trope!A firearm that doesnt shoot is still a heavy metal object that you can use to pummel stuff.Do not throw that thing away unless it is really slowing you down.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Regardless of what justifications are offered later, we see a man slowly moseying away from Mike while supposedly dragging a heavy, belligerent, physically-fit person.

    I dont think its a man.That silhouette at 6:17 does not look human to me.More zombie like.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I was hoping both Shame and Mumblo would be here for this scene,so they can both choose.But oh well.We all knew who would die here.

    Also,thats the real death of pants moment.

  5. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    My decision not to watch this season appears to have been vindicated (I hate horror as a genre, and thought a game of it would be even worse).

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      All horror,or just gory horror?Because there are some pretty good non gory horror movies out there.Heck,even SOMA can be counted there,seeing how the most horrific things in the game come from philosophy and thinking about it,and not the monsters.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        I dropped out of Soma after the robot torture scene -let us not revisit that, except to say that it made me queasy enough by itself that I had no interest in the rest of the game.

    • Rosseloh says:

      Same here. I’ve got nothing much more to say. Apart from that I don’t fundamentally have a problem with ultra-violent scenes, if I come across them, even though I don’t like them, but I will definitely avoid them (or more often, the series of which they are a part) when I know they’re coming because I don’t like them.

      Psychological, mind-screw kinda stuff, I don’t mind as much (though if we’re talking horror in general the majority of the stuff I see is jump scares or ultra-violent, so I don’t get much exposure to it). But violence for the sake of violence? No thanks. I can’t even see the appeal, which I suppose makes me one of “those people” who says “why the hell do you watch this stuff?”.

    • Philadelphus says:

      I’ve been tentatively watching the season up till now, but I think this is the episode I stop, if this is where that clip in the end credits for this week’s set of videos came from. Will just have to pick it up again next season.

    • Mormegil says:

      Okay, so it’s not just me. I watched the first episode and noped out – I’m not squeamish, I just really don’t like most horror movies (there are some exceptions, particularly depending on how you define horror as a genre).

    • A shame as it’s a pretty good game and a even better example of (player) choices and consequences, that more games should follow.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wait,how does jess survive that fall?Its a really nasty fall,while being prone on a metal grate.Even if the elevator slowed(somehow)before hitting the bottom,her spine would still be broken in multiple places.

    I assume she survives because people said that you can save everyone,and I havent seen a way that you couldve saved her before she fell there.Or did Josh screw something during that whole chase and he couldve done it faster?

    • Lame Duck says:

      Plot armour; it’s not only used to keep you from killing annoying NPCs in Bethesda games!

    • potatoejenkins says:

      Vague story spoiler.

      Given the nature of the “kidnapper” and where they would take her, I imagine she was carried half way down, fought back and fell the rest of the way down on the elevator.

      Makes enough sense to me to not have to think about it further.

    • Syal says:

      She lost her phone when Mike scared her into the ice water. That might have been the chance to save her.

      Or maybe we had to tell Peter Stormare that we really disliked her.

    • She screamed (during the fall) but she was most likely unconscious when she hit the ground, which probably saved her. She came to again when Mike talks to her.
      Also the player did not see her fall either. She does fall once the Mike tries to get her but prior to that she is just seen laying there.

      Elevators have brakes, it’s possible the elevator fell (with Jess in it) and the brakes kicked in. (I wonder why the devs didn’t show/animate that).

  7. Robbert Ambrose B. Stopple says:

    I do agree with Shamus that Mike’s performance during the chase feels somewhat implausible for a college student. You’d think he’s an expert survivalist or army vet. Later on there is some more stuff like this which brings me back to the discussion of gameplay/story segregation. Even in such a cinematic driven game like Until Dawn the characters still have to perform athletic acts that are by nearly superhuman. a real person surely wouldn’t be able to keep up the same pace that mike did.

    • Galad says:

      We’ve heard of people doing seemingly superhuman deeds when their life, or the life of someone close to them, is endangered, like a mother lifting off a small car to save her small child from being trapped and possibly crushed under it, but the “jump up the cliff” section with Mike seems implausible to me. To jump you need a footing to project yourself off of, and if you’re only hanging on by your toes, it seems just as likely you’d launch yourself at an angle and drop down instead.

      And wow, I would have thought the camera would not show the guts and shit and would stay at his chest level :/

  8. baseless_research says:

    oh. It’s this type of horror. Well, time to treat the let’s play like a podcast. And Not Look at the tab open in the background.

  9. Galad says:

    So is Josh really dead and gone now or are there ghosts, hallucinations, alternate realities, or anything similar involved. Spoiler me if it’s up to a medium spoiler.

    • potatoejenkins says:

      Vague hint to where the plot is leading:

      There are two plots at work here. One is very “Scream” and the other is the “Supernatural” kind.

      Two hints Josh already found that may help as well:

      The pig is dead. The owner of the lodge won a movie award.

      • Galad says:

        I am not familiar with these two plots you mentioned ( I don’t normally watch Horror series/movies ), and while I remember these clues, one of which happens in this very episode, I fail to see how this would continue the story. On the other hand, I don’t really want to get spoiled any further. What Christopher spoilered below is a good enough answer to my question.

        • The second isn’t actually horror, but just a monster-of-the-week TV show that eventually got into monster-of-the-season-figure-out-how-it-dies after about one season.

          If it became a decent video game, it’d probably be “LA Noire, but with vampires, demons, and stuff.”

          • Also known as
            Vampire: The Masquarade – Bloodlines
            (shame that game was truly not fully finished/polished, shame that Troika closed shop)

            On the bright side Paradox owns the rights to that universe now that they bought the boardgame company/license.

            And seeing as Partadox has a good relationship with Obsidian… Damn.
            Imagine a new Vampire: The Masquarade – Bloodlines (or similar) type of game made by Obsidian.

    • Christopher says:

      I’m not sure how I’m supposed to know what’s a medium spoiler. Here’s the answer to your question that still won’t reveal the entirety of the plot or anything: We’re not done with Josh at all, not by a long shot.

  10. Jokerman says:

    You’re kinda sending me nuts here Shamus :P

    I think the issue is that it’s hard to go along with the ride and “Wait and see” when you are playing it at home, and finishing it in about 9-10 hours… in say 5-6 sittings, than it is playing a few hours once a week.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Aye – and you can sort of tell something else is going on from the way Rutskarn slips into ‘infuriatingly obtuse GM’ voice to respond to each of Shamus’ criticisms! :D

    • Jokerman says:

      Bleh, i butchered that last sentence…

      “easier to go along with the ride and “Wait and see” when playing it at home, and finishing it in about 9-10 hours… in say 5-6 sittings, than it is playing a few hours once a week.”

  11. potatoejenkins says:

    Wow. I watched the video before reading the description and thought to myself: “Shamus surely seems cranky today.”

    Makes sense now. And is understandable. I for one looked away when Josh was cut in half. Again. I am not a fan of these kind of scenes and I absolutely loath the “Saw” series.

    I just hope you stick around. The explanation given by the game later might not satisfy you, but it is a good one nonetheless. What could also help is keeping in mind that this game uses and invertes not only horror movie tropes we are used to from teenage horror movies like “Scream” or “I know what you did last summer”, but horror movies in general. There are different sub-genres that come into play here.

    Having watched “the right ones” before playing/watching someone else play this game added immensly to my enjoyment of the story.

    • I AM a fan of the Saw series, and I found it boring with a side of “meh,” partially because it didn’t hit the Grindhouse gore level, but also because I skipped most of the episodes and don’t have much of a reason to care about PC-Josh.

      There’s also the “pretty sure he didn’t actually deserve that kind of death” that the Saw movies always have before someone gets killified in a painful way.

      • potatoejenkins says:

        What I really hate about the Saw series, with emphasis on “series”, is the “MOAR GOAR!!!11” approach the follow ups seemed to deem necessary. While I am not a fan, I do not have a problem with gore and gory (?) movies. What really throws me off are torture porn and movies that take themselves too seriously. Saw and its sequels – for me – were both.

        I watched the Texas Chainsaw remake and it was stupid. But in a good way? If that makes sense. I liked the original Nightmare on Elms Street and might even watch the remake.

        Gore has its place. I just prefer the psychological effect of it. What would Aliens be without face huggers and the parasite bursting through their hosts chest? Again I may look away, but I do indeed love those buggers. Not even speaking of Zombies. The Walking Dead relies a bit too much on it at times, but seeing Ricks horse being torn apart (until I looked away) had impact. It was not a bad scene by a long shot.
        Ramsey Bolton. There are no words for Ramsey Bolton.

        Maybe my initial comment should’ve been phrased a little better: I dislike this scene with Josh even more in hinsight. Because hinsight changes this scene from a scene out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre into a scene from Saw, a staging. And I see now that this is not the games, but Josh’s fault. The fault of the character.

        The scene is not bad and while this game does not need gore, this moment is a very essential part of Josh’s character arc.

        I look away, because it’s not my thing, pig or not. But that doesn’t make it a bad scene.

        • Yeah, the later ones are little more than gorn with a side of Thanatos Gambitting, though it sort of gets (even more) implausible after Saw 4. The later ones have some serious ass-pulling in them, though, mostly the last one which has a character reappear basically out of nowhere.

    • Loonyyy says:

      It’s kind of ironic that you mention Scream as a film you know horror movie tropes from, because that film was a meta comedy about those tropes, where about halfway through a character literally explains to the audience the “rules”, AKA tropes, of slasher films. It’s just a really strange reference. The game isn’t using tropes from Scream, it’s using tropes from slasher and horror films like Scream did, and it’s not really an inversion (I know the story, the reveals do not make it an inversion), it’s standard narrative shorthand, they’re convenient. Scream is about movies, Until Dawn isn’t, it’s an actual story, and despite the gameplay contrivances and non-linear plotting elements, the story actually lacks that sort of meta narrative.

      Which is kind of better, because honestly, those jokes get old fast, running a meta joke like that undermines character drama, and at this point, knowing how an 80s slasher flick works is almost universal to a film watching or game playing audience. I think Shamus should stick around, and I don’t think he’ll be massively satisfied by any of the recontextualising later, but I do think that his perspective is interesting, particularly as someone who’s actually going in blind.

      • potatoejenkins says:

        I still see this game more as an interactive movie than a game. And the available player input turns the player kind of into the nerd helping the dumb kids survive the night – because we know the rules. But that’s just a personal view.

        You are right, of course. Thanks for the little education on Scream btw.

  12. Daniel England says:

    I totally understand where you are coming from, Shamus. The first time I watched this game (I’ve only ever seen it as an LP) I felt the same way. Ultra violence was one of the reason I had to stop watching Game of Thrones. Having watched the game through 3 times now, I can see how it would be frustrating that the writers haven’t really started establishing their world yet. Is there a monster? If so how does it work? If you take what happens in the game literally, then it seems implausible that it could be done by humans, but that could just be game designers being lazy. Then there’s this thing where the stuff with Mike and Jess is happening simultaneously with Chris and Ash, is that again just the designer being lazy or is that hinting at something else.

    So, I’m glad you’re going to be sticking with it for SW, and you’re definitely asking the right questions. And that’s all I can really say about it. I want to say to have faith in the writers, but if the game just doesn’t do it for you, I can’t really blame you. It might just not be your kind of game. Also, the writers really haven’t given you any reason to trust them, a fair bit of the early stuff was kinda weak in my opinion.

    • “the stuff with Mike and Jess is happening simultaneously with Chris and Ash, is that again just the designer being lazy or is that hinting at something else.”
      Microspoiler: Yes, the devs are letting the player “know” more than the characters in the game, just to ensure you get sit there screaming at the characters later how stupid they are acting.

  13. Warclam says:

    I was unhappy when this game was chosen for Spoiler Warning for pretty much exactly these reasons. I feel deliciously vindicated right now.

  14. Christopher says:

    I’m actually really surprised that all of you can’t stand Chris’ fauxhawk. I only have that kind of a reaction to a few haircuts. There’s one that was real big a few years ago I think where you shave the hair on the sides of your head but make the top long and then have it just lay on the top of your head, and that’s one disgusting haircut. Seeing it pop up in fictional media all the time now has been a pain. But I wasn’t aware that the fauxhawk was Spoiler Warning’s personal kryptonite.

  15. Andy_Panthro says:

    That was a little bit like a scene from a bad Saw knock-off. It’s obviously a nod to Saw, but in that series usually there’s a way to prevent a terrible thing from happening via self-sacrifice, as well as an attempt to justify why the killing is happening. It’s quite an elaborate setup to kill one guy for seemingly no reason.

    A better option might have been to have four potential outcomes: 1. You pick Ashley. 2. You pick Josh. 3. You pick neither and both die (or try to stop the saw and fail). 4. You manage to stop the saw and save both.

    • PlasmaPony says:

      Nonspoiler: there’s a reason why the choice seemed so arbitrary that is explained later.

      Spoiler: It’s all a setup by Josh, and no matter what you say and pick the saw will go to him. It’s an elaborate setup to fuck with them for what happened to his sisters

      • ehlijen says:

        Yeah, I read that in a spoiler synopsis after watching today. It sounds to me like any chance at plausibility is now gone.

        How can that be faked without a hollywood special effects team? In the few minutes he had to set it up before Chris would get there or Ash would wake up? He was moving and talking, but still somehow a fake corpse? How?

        • Duoae says:

          Without spoiling anything – your logic is very wrong here. You’re missing several steps in your conclusions… :)

        • PlasmaPony says:

          That’s pretty much exactly what he’s doing. His dad is a famous horror movie director, so he’s using that know how to set up the scenario. It was kind of hinted at when Chris talked about all the random horror movie stuff in the basement. Josh has been coming up for months in advance to set this up using horror movie special effects. While your mileage may vary, much like with most horror movies this exists in a pastiche world and you kind of have to not think too hard and enjoy the ride. It’s easier to pick it apart when you’re watching and listening to people talk instead of playing it.

          In this specific scenario, it’s a fake body filled with pig guts, and there’s a slot for him to stick his head through. He brought Ashley in, took off the clown costume, and got into position. Then he plays his part and once they leave he runs off to get into position for his next steps.

          • Gruhunchously says:

            Looking back at the scene though, it’s pretty obvious that they’re cheating their asses off with Josh. There are several shots where you can clearly see that his neck is attached to his body, and not poking out of the wall behind him. I can absolutely accept that it could have fooled Chris and even Ashley, especially given the stress of the situation, but the audience is given too much opportunity to scrutinize. It’s a shame, too, because I think they could have actually had Josh in his fake position and gotten away with it with more deceptive camera shots. Say, having the close up scenes shown from Ashley’s side, so Josh would be partially obscured by her body.

            • Sleeping Dragon says:

              Putting aside the quality of the special effects (on the one hand we could say that Josh has access to the highest quality stuff, on the other he set it up and needs to run all of it solo, with non-cooperative audience-participants) I’m going to add in my two cents as to why I think it’s okay for the game to “cheat” like this. First cent, I’m going to use the justification of the characters being a sort of “player agents” in the game and so their perception being how the player perceives things (with minor exceptions for stuff like the “predator vision” and background scares), if the game was about a player being a disembodied ghost hovering around, getting a good look at the situation and possibly affecting the characters (sorta like in The Novelist, ignoring the difference in genres) then I’d be okay with calling it out on cheating here. Second cent, considering this game styles itself very much as an interactive movie I think it’s also fair that it dips into movie conventions, meaning that the strings holding up the monster aren’t showing until the Mystery Inc. kids actually say they are there. Third cent, it would feel unfair if the theme of the game was figuring out the mystery, but it’s not. It’s about the player first experiencing this interactive movie, primarily of the slasher flick variety with all its tropes, and then to gather data on the choices and consequences in subsequent playthroughs and “direct” the movie to the result they want.

              As someone who didn’t actually play the game I’m also going to take other commenters’ word that there are actually two plots going on (one of which is supposedly actually supernatural?) and so the cheating is not quite as extensive as it would seem if every single thing was just Josh’s set up.

            • Jokerman says:

              I dunno… every time i see this again it looks “fake” from Josh’s acting performance to the fact his head doesn’t really look that attached, i remember actually giving credit to them for not cheating on a second playthrough.

              • MichaelGC says:

                Aye, if you know what’s going on it does look like what’s going on is going on… Subtle!

              • I think you got it. It’s supposed to look fake if you look close. Remember the devs could have modeled the objects so it would look seamless. The devs are basically leaving tiny breadcrumbs for the player but the characters do not see these (just like they don’t find the totems).

                The devs are trying to play to both the “Hah. I knew it all along” crowd, the “What the ?” crowd, the “Hah they got me” crowd, and the “I promise, I did know it all a long. really…” crowd. And I think they do a fairly good job at that.

                I also find it amusing when people say that it “looks fake”, considering it’s a computer game, the entire thing is not real in the first place. So if something looks fake the devs either majorly fucked up (considering the production quality, not likely), or the devs made it look “off” on purpose.

            • Cannongerbil says:

              That’s because the neck IS attached to the body. The only part of Josh that is actually him and not a marionette in that scene is his face. Everything from the neck down is a dummy.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Guys,could you please not post such specific spoilers any more before the reveal?The spoiler tags arent perfect,and if someone uses the search function(which is a high chance when there are this many comments),the searched word will still be highlighted.And in cases where you put the names of characters from the game,chances are someone may see them.Especially in a game like this,where we have two people who have the same name as two of the casters.Furthermore,many people use the rss feed,and the spoiler tags are shown just as a strike through text there,making unwanted spoilers popping up even more of a chance.

            Now for me,its not a problem,I already know everything I want about the game.But if someone who has no clue,for example Shamus,stumbles upon it,they can be treated to an unwanted spoilers.And the same goes for the second main villain of the game,which Ive also seen discussed like this before the reveal.

      • Merlin says:

        Ok, enter speculation mode, with this spoiler in mind.

        Edit: I can’t seem to operate spoiler tags tonight, so I’m redacting this.

  16. Andy_Panthro says:

    Also, I’m glad it’s not just me that was thinking about Alone in the Dark while watching this. A new AitD that was a bit like Until Dawn but with more focus on puzzles/lovecraftian horror rather than quicktime events/teenagers would be brilliant.

    Oh and Rutskarn, I’m pretty sure there isn’t a puzzle where you kill a ghost using soap, but it’s been a long time since I played them and I only really remember the first one. There were lots of strange puzzle solutions though, as some ghosts/creatures could only be killed in very specific ways.

  17. Christopher says:

    “This is where I started to like Mike, cause he’s suddently the big hero man and not thinking with his dick”

    Yep. I appreciate that they spend hours showing the ugly sides of the characters(most of them, none worse than regular people) and then their good side shows up when they get heroic. It’s also why I just have a worse opinion of some characters because their chance to die comes earlier in the story than the rest. In the let’s play I watched last year, they fucked up and Jessica died brutally here(I forget how, but she was not in good shape). I never got to see what she does later. This cutscene still looks pretty bad for her, but I think she’s still in it.

    Presumably that’s why Mike just runs after the silhouette instead of following her down into the mine. In the bad version, she would have been obviously dead, and there wouldn’t have been any point to him following after her. I guess this is one of the limits of their system. It makes more sense for him to try and help his girlfriend, but he’s got to have another stage in the place he’s following the silhouette too. They didn’t make a whole separate one.

    • ehlijen says:

      Then he doesn’t really come off as heroic, to me. In this scene, he ignores the possibly still alive Jess and rushes to get revenge. Even if she was dead for certain, heroism could just as much be to run back to the others and warn them. But instead, he rushes after an unknown figure even after his gun proves useless…because the story needs him to? Is that what you’re saying?
      Maybe not his dick, but he’s clearly thinking with testosterone, not his brain.

      To be fair, sometimes these conflicts happen. I’ve had a few instances in my hobby writing efforts where I needed characters to do an important thing and they wouldn’t. When that happens, you’ll have to either change the plot (to not need that important thing anymore) or the character (so they will do the thing). If you don’t do either, you end up with this scene here.
      Heroism turned into ridiculous bloodthirst, undermining what I assume was meant to be the point of the scene (Mike having redeeming qualities). By abandoning Jess this quickly and easily, I’m left with the impression that the chase was never about saving her so much as getting the bad guy; there was no visible changeover from one to the other at any point.

      • Christopher says:

        That’s not very charitable of you. He only screams her name the whole time. There isn’t ridicilous bloodthirst in his chase of either Jess or the silhouette. I’ll agree that he seems a little dumber and less heroic for climbing up after the silhouette rather than down the shaft, but it’s not character murder either. He still does an entire chase scene after a dangerous unknown threat to save his girlfriend, and he does it John McClane style. Although I’m disappointed there isn’t an alternate path for him where he goes down to the mines(the correct choice), you also don’t get that kind of branching paths from a single massive budget AAA RPG outside of what, The Witcher 2?

        I guess if there’s a change I would make, it’s for some kind of structure to collapse and bar the elevator entrance after the elevator falls. That would make it clear he can’t just get down there.

        • potatoejenkins says:

          Is it made clear he is chasing the figure?

          I got the impression he is running back to get help. But maybe only because that’s what I would do, not being able to help her beyond some first aid and not being able to get her back up – heavily injured or not. Not even counting in the possibility of not getting back up and out of the depths of the mine by myself either.

          Honest question, btw. I don’t remember.

          • Christopher says:

            Yes, he looks up when snow falls down and sees a whole in the roof as well as a silhouette, aims at the figure(you can shoot, though I don’t know what that does) and then climbs up after. Finally, he’s following the silhouette out of the mine and out into a vista at the end. The idea being that Mike thinks the silhouette was the kidnapper and threw/dropped Jessica through the roof.

            • potatoejenkins says:

              Watched the scene from another playthrough again to confirm a few things for myself:

              Shooting does not change anything immediately but does indeed change at least some dialogue. (I actually know what it does, but that would explain the plot of the whole game.)

              Furthermore: Player choice really changes how one can interpret the scene. Rutskarn was singing over it, but taking the shot at the figure is again entirely up to the player. A blood-thirsty/revengeful Mike takes both shots. This Mike didn’t, this Mike hesitated.

              Mike does not know where he is, Jess might or might not be dead. There is a figure (more or less) leading him out of the mines and to a strange facility with electricity (you can see the figure walking up to it), maybe even people. It’s risky, it’s not smart, but there could be help. If this was not a horror movie, would it be so far fetched to go there? Again I can only speak for myself, but given the choice between running around in a night-time snowstrom in my undies and following the figure (whom I’ve chosen not to shoot, because I’m not sure about the nature of their involvement) to a facility with electricity I would probably choose the latter.

              How the character are played and which choices are made effect their stats, btw. It would be interesting to see how much Mike has changed due to the crews input.

        • ehlijen says:

          Yes, he clearly doesn’t want to not save her. But when the moment comes where he has to decide between following her (down) and following the stranger (up), there is no hesitation in his choice to go up. No visible change in goal or thought, no real moment of agonising over his decision. No ‘you killed her’ scream to let us know whether he believes she’s dead now and he can’t save her anymore.

          He goes from following both of them to following only the stranger just like that. And no choice is given to the player here, either, but that’s different issue.

          And didn’t this game sell itself on branching being its thing? To me this seems an obvious misstep. This, above many other things, should actually have been a choice (or more believably handwaved away; as I suggested, just have Mike yell ‘You killed her!’), AAA or not.

          • Actually this does reflect Mike’s character somewhat, he can be very singleminded at times (as you saw) and shortsighted (you’ll see later) and interestingly enough a slight coward at certain times (you’ll see later).

            Also bear in mind that it was Mike that decides to chase after the shadow/person he saw, not the player.

            From start to finish the player only makes a few meta choices, the characters are still their own characters independent of the player.

  18. Dr Deadman says:

    Yeah, when I first saw an LP of this game, the saw scene really killed my buzz.

    *standing ovation. the audiance is jumping up and down on their seats. someone lobs a molotov at the rafters. the theatre descends into orgy of fire&blood. at the centre of it all, a solitary figure bows with a flourish, murmurs quite prayer to god. at the gates of heaven, a deluge gathers*

  19. Mike says:

    To be honest Shamus, I 100% agree with you. The story of this is game is not only incredibly cookie-cutter and tropey, it’s also somewhat incoherent and lacks any real stakes because all the characters are intentionally unsympathetic.
    When I first watched an LP of this I was only really sticking around for Peter Stormare’s fantastic performance, and I was really hoping they’d take that in a more interesting direction than they actually do. There was something really cool about the sense he was talking to you out of the game, and I hoped that would develop into the true game/story.

    • “There was something really cool about the sense he was talking to you out of the game, and I hoped that would develop into the true game/story.”
      There is one, look for my comment (or others) near the end of the game, or at least after a certain reveal (if it occurs, depends on if Josh finds the clue or not). There “is” more to that story, but the game is not telling that story.

  20. ehlijen says:

    Yeah, I’d have dropped this game here as well. Partly because of the gore (which needs to be really creepy to put me off, usually), partly because I don’t care for the ‘sadistic experiment psycho’ trope that I just find utterly artificial and immersion breaking but also because the game is now deliberately going out of its way to make the player do things I wouldn’t want to do:

    Here are characters! Get invested in them!
    Now one is in danger! Hurry, save her!
    Now stop trying to save the poor girl and chase after some shadowy figure even though the girl still needs all the saving (as far as you know)!

    I’ve never been much into formula horror, even Cabin in the Woods didn’t work for me. I could barely even enjoy Evil Dead 2. So all that referencing and ‘subversion’ is lost on me. And most subversions I’ve seen turned out to just be more formula stories that revelled in the formula, so I don’t have a lot of trust left to give this story but that’s on me and other stories, not this one, I’ll admit that. (The only subversion of horror I’ve ever seen that worked was Tucker and Dale vs Evil, and that was because it genuinely worked to be a comedy first and a horror subversion second).

    But back on point, I’m with Shamus. I can’t see how this thing will ever end plausibly and right now the game is asking too much indulgence in railroading for me to be charitable anymore. If it was me playing, I’d drop the game and move to something less aggravating. As a SW…I don’t know if I’ll keep watching. I guess I’ll see.

    • Locke says:

      I can sympathize with Mike in the chase scene scenario. Jess was already cut up bad and might not pull through without immediate medical attention, and then she fell 20+ feet down an elevator shaft. She is super dead. I’d be more focused on revenge. Or, more charitably, protecting the rest of my friends. But more honestly, revenge.

      • ehlijen says:

        Then the game should have made more clear that Mike think’s she’s dead. I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to think that (the game didn’t seem shy on being clear about the other deaths), and thus had no idea if Mike thought she was dead. If he did, yes, his actions make sense. But with any doubt, chasing the retreating bad guy when his gf might still be alive is not a heroic move, though possibly still brave.

  21. baseless_research says:

    I have to admit, I don’t think this game was worth the buzz.

  22. aunshi says:

    Woah woah woah. Hold up.

    Mike had a lighter this whole time? Why’d you have to look for matches in the cabin?

  23. Daimbert says:

    So, from the various reading around:

    1) The game is set in Canada.

    2) There are supernatural as well as mundane threats.

    3) You’ve already found Wolverine.

    4) An incredibly strong creature grabs someone without suffering any harm.

    5) Something seems to be able to climb better than expected.

    6) Something moves improbably quickly.

    I think I know who the killer is. It’s Alpha Flight!

  24. Leocruta says:

    I found the saw scene hilarious. I found the voice acting of the killer to be a little… sub-par. So when he said “Please, please please, everyone calm down”. a grin found its way onto my face. Then Josh’s expression coupled with his scream started me laughing. Then I laughed harder when I realized he wasn’t actually being cut up yet. The camera showing the intestines flopping around did nothing to dampen my mirth. I found the entire thing absurd. Thinking back, reminds me a little of army of darkness’s humour.

    I would like to know what happens if you don’t pull the lever though. Is the default track Ashley’s, or does it change based on who you say you’ll save? It also irritates me that the killer said “Choose who you will save” but moving the lever to a picture chooses who dies.

    • Duoae says:

      Okay so to reply to your comment:

      All choices choose Josh. I got confused when playing this segment because i chose to save Josh but then the lever choice I chose ‘Ashley’ because I thought I was directing the blade to Ashley and it killed Josh. I interpreted that as the second choice was also who you were deciding to save and I made a mistake. Obviously, that was incorrect.

      • Leocruta says:

        A fake choice? How intriguing. I assume the reason for that is because Josh is behind everything. A little revenge for his sisters, perhaps? Though really, it seems the majority of choices in this game are fake.

        • PlasmaPony says:

          Most of the early choices are cosmetic, affecting some scenes of dialogue but not much else. Some of the later choices have more impact, including character deaths.

        • “A little revenge for his sisters, perhaps?”

          Well, he also wanted Chris and Ashley to get closer, Remember the dialog choice Josh did when Sam and Josh was talking while going down to the basement? That something bad would need to happen before Chris and Ashley would take the next step?

          Josh does not want to hurt any of his friends, just do the ultimate prank. It’s not made clear enough but this gang of friends most likely did a lot of pranks on each other over the years.

  25. Locke says:

    Generally speaking I find the characters likable enough that I don’t want anyone dead (I was kind of sad when Jess bit it). My reaction to the saw scene is pretty much the same as yours, though. My very first instinct is to try and Captain Kirk my way out of it. I mean, you can see the power source, all you have to do is find some way of effecting it from a distance. And the trap is physically incapable of killing both victims, so it’s not like trying and failing to save everyone can result in more people dying than would otherwise.

  26. Rayen says:

    I understand i am absolutely the wrong person for this kind of game. The first episode death scene with the sisters i wasn’t fond of. But if the game is going make a habit of scenes like the sawing a person in half, im gonna have to take a miss on the rest of this season.

  27. Grimwear says:

    This is no way relates to the episode though my quick takeaway is: I’m glad to see things picking up even if it is pure grad ridiculousness.

    My real reason is wondering if Shamus will do a quick post about what his nominations are for the Steam Autumn Sale. I’m interested to see what his/Chris/Mumbles/Josh/Rustkarn/Jin choices are. As well as that of all the lovely folks in the comments.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Urghh. I know I should either ignore it or take it all in good fun but I’m already feeling frustrated with the “Steam awards”. The only one I have any hope for is the “Test of Time” award, the rest… I just know that it’s going to end up being a triple A popularity contest with stuff like Fallout 4 getting the reward for “the twist” and other such nonsense.

      Again, I realise this is absolutely not worth getting an ulcer over but these kinds of things just have a way of driving me up the wall for some reason.

      • Leocruta says:

        The steam awards are a popularity contest. The majority of people are going to vote for a game they’ve played, so obviously triple A games are going to dominate.

        What really irritates me though is that many of the games I want to nominate aren’t on steam, or are in a lesser form. BG 2 is the “enhanced edition”, KoDP is the mobile version, Persona 3, the only game to make me feel sad, isn’t even on steam.

        Then there are the games I would like to nominate for an award, but don’t really fit any of the categories. What am supposed to nominate VtM:B or the Legacy of Kain for?

        So yeah, “Test of time” is the only award I’m mostly satisfied with.

      • Grimwear says:

        I do agree the majority of the awards are stupid and pointless. As Leocruta states the games I’d vote for don’t fit any of the “look at how hilarious and funny this is” categories. There’s no room for X-com, any Total War game, or even just strong rpgs or narrative experiences. Their only chance is the “5 more minutes” category but if it goes to anything it’ll be Civ. Heck even “Test of Time” I refused to even consider any game that isn’t at least 10 years old. I’m willing to bet Skyrim is going to win even though it came out in 2011 which isn’t close to long enough to stand any amount of time. I personally voted for Half Life 2 but I’ll be honest my pickings from steam were pretty slim.

        All that being said I would still enjoy seeing Shamus’ selections just because the categories are so dumb we can see some games that maybe would not make any lists otherwise and it would as always be an interesting read.

    • Loonyyy says:

      What I want to know about those awards is who the hell designed that UI?

      Have they stopped teaching GUI design in software? I keep seeing really poor interfaces, and Valve is one of the kings of the heap there. Just terrible design that should be revised, it shouldn’t make it past testing. You go to the awards page, does it use a dropdown? No. Can you search? No. Can you nominate from your library? No. You have to go to the store page for the game in question (So you have to make your call seperately), either from your library or searching the store, and nominate their, using Steam’s notoriously slow browser.

      Honestly, I’d love to see Shamus tackle it just because I feel like he’d rip into that too.

  28. Cinebeast says:

    I’ve never considered myself a horror fan, but reading the disinterest of Shamus (and several commenters), I’m starting to think I might be after all. When I got to this part, I started to get really invested in things.

    So, huh. You learn something new about yourself every day.

    • Ivellius says:

      If it makes you feel better, I didn’t consider myself a horror fan until this year I realized I was watching a horror movie every day in October for the third consecutive year. I guess I am one now.

      (To be fair, I didn’t care much for horror movies when I did it that first year.)

      Having seen a few Let’s Plays up to just a bit after this point, yeah, this was where things started to feel really serious.

  29. Destrustor says:

    So speaking of which, Rutskarn; Are there any plans to bring back Auntie Paladin at any point in the future?

  30. Alex says:

    I was thinking before watching that the saw kill might only happen because you choose someone, and then seeing the actual apparatus further convinced me that that might be the case. If you don’t set the saw onto either track, does it derail, or does it kill somebody anyway?

    Apart from that, yeah, I’m with Shamus here. The game just went from “buy if it catches my attention while on sale” to “not a chance.”

    • King Marth says:

      The correct way to set up your deathtraps is to have a center track which half-cuts each hostage in half, thus leaving a worst-case decision between feeling personally responsible for one death and witnessing two deaths.

      Tokyo Ghoul did this, though in a far more up-front case where a superhuman grabbed two hostages and asked a third which should die so that the other would live, and refusing to play along would get both killed. The hostages in question were a couple of course, both asking to die to save the other. When the person being asked shut down in shock, quite understandably, both got squished.

    • Actually the track seems like a fairly standard track which means just like a railroad the splitter divert whatever is traveling.

      Which means it defaults to either left or right (there is no middle as that would derail the train or whatever is on the rails).

      Note! Been a while since I looked at rail splitters, but modern ones I seem to recall are designed such that if they are not all left or all right then the train will just travel on the current (main) line. It’s like there is a extra cut in the rail wedge.

  31. Neko says:

    I thought that forcing the choice on you like that was annoying too. I’m also curious what would happen if you refused to make any choice at all – if the lever is in the ‘middle’ position, is there a valid path for the cart to move down, or will it get stuck?

    Alternative solutions aside, I suppose it could be seen as ‘simulating’ the panicky teenager thought process. We’re not really making this choice and ignoring the possibility of opening the door, Chris is.

    • “if the lever is in the ‘middle’ position”

      Rails have no middle position (unless we’re talking three tracks).
      They are only ever left or right, and usually one of them is the main track.

      “We’re not really making this choice and ignoring the possibility of opening the door, Chris is.”

      Very true, most of the choices in the game are made by the characters, only now and again the player is given the chance to choice a choice A or choice B that the character might make (a glimpse into their mind if you will).

  32. Phrozenflame500 says:

    Even when I first went through without knowing how the rest of the game goes, some of these complaints are super unrelatable to me. Although maybe that might just be because the gore/suffering didn’t bother me as much, and the “what is the nature of the horror in this horror game” meta-question kept me fairly steadily interested.

    Hopefully the way the game justifies a lot of Shamus’s complaints satisfies him.

  33. John Law says:

    It’s oddly satisfying to read Shamus’ comments knowing what happens and knowing that for once, virtually every inconsistency he brings up will be addressed within the game without needing to resort to (too much) headcanon. For once.

    I feel like the Jigsaw sequence would still be a deal-breaker to a lot of people, especially those going for a no-kill run. In fact, the knowledge that such a run is possible is going to lower some of the impact, because once people know it’s possible to save everyone, a sequence that seemingly ends in death no matter what is going to raise eyebrows. From there it’s on to the boards with “how do I save Josh/Ashley?” and best case scenario they’re told to suck it up and keep going (which is an implicit spoiler on it’s own), worse case scenario they get told the “solution” outright and spoil a massive chunk of the game.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Yeah,thats why even telling someone that a death free run is possible is kind of spoilerific.

    • Jokerman says:

      The way seemingly random choices seem to effect whether some die… after a few more deaths i just put this one down to a fuck up i thought i must have made earlier on in the game.

    • Gruhunchously says:

      That’s not to say that this game doesn’t have quite a few fridge logic problems or inconsistencies that might irritate a nitpicker of Shamus’ caliber. But your right in that almost all of his current criticisms get resolved pretty definitively by the end. I just wonder if he’ll have broken his contract with the author by the time the chain of revelations begin.

    • Steve C says:

      I think your comment just gave me enough info to figure out the big twist. If what I think ends up being correct, I’m going to really really hate this game because what I just came up with is so stupid it makes me angry. Big possible spoiler from someone who doesn’t know anything about the game: We better not have just cut a pig in half.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        In this spoiler, I will tell you whether or not you are right: We just cut a pig-filled prop in half.

        • Steve C says:

          Fucking bullshit… I’m so very glad I did not buy this game. I still expect to enjoy the Spoiler Warning season. Grumpy curmudgeon Shamus is my stand in.

          • The “twist” is advertised quite early on, various clues are dotted around. The game is designed such that some will realize it early while others later. Believe it or not but this twist is part of a sideplot, yeah imagine that. They could have designed the game without this and still had a pretty good horror game.

  34. Pyrrhic Gades says:

    OK, I think I figured out the villain’s motive. He’s trying to scare everyone away from the lodge so that he can make money from property.

  35. Steve C says:

    I’m liking this Spoiler Warning season. Interestingly, while I’m enjoying others playing it, I would not like playing this game myself. All the gameplay feels very rail-roady. I didn’t like ‘Life is Strange’ either.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Aye, the game seems like not my sort of thing in multiple ways, but the season itself has been loads of fun so far! :D

    • tzeneth says:

      It’s essentially a visual choose your own adventure novel with quick-time events and some investigation that CAN make a difference in the outcomes to some characters. Yes, that is the very definition of “railroady.” Although it doesn’t have the easy, thumb back to decisions or the “let’s look for the hidden pages that are technically impossible to get to” that some real choose your own adventure books have.

  36. Steve C says:

    It looked as though Ashley had a little bit of a clipping issue when she got down from the board. It appeared to me that she tagged her spine against the still moving sawblade. Which would have been a great ‘oopsie’ if that’s what actually happened in the narrative.

  37. Deadpool says:

    There is a clever bit of misdirection on this episode. If I remember I will point it out later…

  38. MichaelGC says:

    Are we finding enough of the totems? ‘Cos I was watching another LP, with only a mild feeling of guilt & betrayal, and comparatively they seemed to be finding totems everywhere. One on top of another.

  39. Zak McKracken says:

    Wait, where is the rest of the cast? Chris goes out alone with a flashlight without even checking where the others are. At least Sam must still be in the building.

    Of course this is a horror movie trope but by this time, Chris should be properly frightened to go out alone, and if he wasn’t he should try and warn them, maybe?

    And then he just stands there like an idiot and doesn’t even attempt to stop the saw thing… we used to have a model train thing as kids and I worked out at some point that you can derail trains by setting the switch exactly half-way. That would have been the least he could try, apart from of course trying to get in there and give the thing a good push.
    It’s almost as if he knew he was in a video game with only binary choices

  40. Loonyyy says:

    I dunno, the violence makes me a little uncomfortable, but moreso the fact that the jumpscares are the purest sort of jumpscares, and they’re often paired with violence. Character does something stupid. Loud noise happens and something flies into frame or we get a jumpcut. Even thought I expected it, I still jump, but I’m not scared, I’m angry because I knew it was coming and they just exploited my physiology for a cheap “scare” that does not actually scare me, and actually weakens my connection to the story.

    I think the story has a bit of a problem where most of these characters are unlikeable dicks. It’s kind of that slasher movie thing where you’re sort of rooting for the killer, except this is a mystery and it’s meant to be effective horror and they’ve gone to incredible efforts to realise these characters, I’m not meant to be hoping they die in entertaining ways. The opening is just really ugly, cretinous stuff, and it did have a tragic causal relationship to the deaths of their friends. No, it’s not their fault, they didn’t kill their friends, but they did something ugly and creepy and acted like monsters, and that did cause their deaths. They never had to do what they did, and they really should be torn up about the awful unintended consequences of their misdeeds and maybe try to be less terrible people, but they’re still terrible. It feels like the closest thing the story has to a hero at times is Mike, and I think Mike is stupid, a thug, and honestly, I wish that his character would die. The story seems to think I can learn to like Mike, but they are wrong. Mike’s actions bordered on sexual assault, he’s just not a decent human being. In places they deliberately place him over a number of other survivors. He’s like Miranda. That Jessica is also awful, and forms a good part of his motivation, does not make him more likeable. All they needed to do was strip away the macho veneer, or show that he’s really pulled his head in to make a compelling and complex character, but that he’s so righteous about being a monster makes him a bad person, and one dimensional. If anything, I sympathise with Josh, but some of the writing is really all over the place, with a good dose of what’s obviously some much older adult’s idea of what young people are like on top, and as much as I like Rami Malek, sometimes Josh is a sympathetic character, and at others he’s “crazy”, but movie crazy, not mentally ill.

    I still kind of like the game. I just don’t like the Saw twist on it. Unlikeable people being mangled by machines just presses none of the right buttons for me. A lot of these characters feel like a character sheet, like a lot of effort went into their design and stereotyped backstories, and they have little depth beyond that, nothing subverts the stereotypes, and they don’t show a lot of depth.

  41. Alex McKenzie says:

    I know we’ve heard the Dolphin Lover voice before on Spoiler Warning, but I can’t place where. . . Anyone remember?

  42. Phantos says:

    As upsetting as I’m starting to find violence in media, I think what bugged me more was that it was an uncreative way for that scene to have played out.

    I figured the saw would stop JUST BEFORE it would hurt or kill anyone. And then they’d all have to have that awkward moment where Game Chris had to own up to why he chose one over the other. That’d be more interesting to me, for the game and the killer to toy around with their prey like that than just actually buzz-sawing them. It might also ramp up the tension even more.

    I get that it’s playing pretty close to shlocky, dumb horror movies, specifically to the rhythms and patterns of how those play out. But that part did feel like a wasted opportunity.

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