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.
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.
There's a wonderful way to balance difficulty in RPGs, and designers try to prevent it. For some reason.
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