Until Dawn EP10: The Treachery of Peter Stormare

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Nov 30, 2016

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 58 comments

Link (YouTube)

I was originally going to title this episode Ceci n’est pas une Peter Stormare based on the joke / reference Chris made. I changed it for two reasons:

  1. I’m wary that the too-smart-by-half Google curation bot would assume the episode was in French and would begin offering it to French-speaking viewers and not suggesting it to English speakers.
  2. I was wary of a wave of pedants informing me that “Ceci n’est pas une Peter Stormare” is grammatically incorrect.

The section where Mike is wandering around alone doing adventure game stuff while carrying a light source feels really Silent Hill-ish. I’m not saying it’s as good as Silent Hill or anything. Even Silent Hill isn’t as good as Silent Hill. The “Silent Hill experience” that fans love actually only existed for a moment in the history of the series, and it feels like an accident among the mediocrity. In fact, I’m pretty sure my entire relationship with the survival horror genre is a hopeless search for something that can hit that Silent Hill 2 note again.

For me, nothing else has really come close. Sure, there have been good games in the genre. Several of them might have done just as well on the scare-o-meter. But nothing else has quite nailed that same balance of immersion, existential dread, mystery, paranoia, and character revelation / development. It’s been 16 years, and since then AAA game designers have completely forgotten what made the game work in the first place. Either they assume that “stiff, frustrating combat is the point of the game”, or they attempt to “fix” the combat by “modernizing” it.

I think to make something like Silent Hill 2, you have to start with the writing, and allow that to inform your environment and monster designs, which will then shape your gameplay. But if you’re thinking you can take some standard gameplay and re-skin it with spooky monsters and scenery, then you’re never going to get there. Sure, you’ll make something spoopy and annoying whelps will dutifully scream at the surprise blood and the roaring monsters on their livestreams, but years later your game will be forgotten and fans will still be talking about Silent Hill 2 and waiting for the lightning to strike a second time.

I guess what I’m saying is that the AAA industry as it exists now is physically incapable of supporting the kind of auteur that could make another Silent Hill 2 happen.


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58 thoughts on “Until Dawn EP10: The Treachery of Peter Stormare

  1. Henson says:

    Hey, you never know, a Peter Stormare could be a feminine object. You can never be too sure.

  2. Christopher says:

    The sad thing about Silent Hill 2 is that there’s no easy way to play it except to try and order some old copy online. I would have tried it years ago on Yahtzee’s fanboyism alone, but it’s not the kinda game that Gamestop had tons of copies of lying around, at least where I lived. And the HD remake is infamously bad, to the degree that I haven’t picked it up because I’ve been told it wouldn’t be the same experience. I guess there are probably good PS2 emulators out there and I just don’t know about them. Considering it’s been 15 years there aren’t a lot of good options.

    1. el_b says:

      theres a site called theisozone where you can pick up isos of older games, mostly stuff not on steam, without being a member. ive grabbed a bunch of no longer available games from there like ds9 the fallen and its probably the only place you can get the no one lives forever games (1 hasnt aged particularly well but 2 is amazing). dont want to link cause the post will probably get deleted. from my experience the site doesnt have virus filled ads or anything like gamecopyworld with does nocd cracks or emuparadise, a rom emulator site. the isos ive grabbed all have cracks inside too so that wasnt a problem. it has console and pc isos so if you use something like opera that has a good ad blocker you should have a ball hunting on that site :)

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Even ignoring the legal and moral problems of getting a cracked old game,there are numerous technical problems with those.Most of them simply dont work,because screw backward compatibility(which is why gog is a thing).The emulated ones usually work,but you need an emulator for those,and those have their own separate problems,mostly with tweaking the controls(unless you have an old controller laying around).

        1. el_b says:

          windows 7 have an xp virtual console and while ive had issues with a bunch of games on windows 10, im surprised at what ive managed to actually get working. enb mods are all fucked though sadly, was going to install 7 on my second hd but wussed out cause i didnt want to risk fucking up and ruining my main drive and all its data. my trackball mouse double clicks a lot on its own and they can be expensive.
          i dont see how getting a game thats no longer available anywhere can be a legal issue even though there has been talk about it. if it no longer exists for sale how can it be stolen? i tried asking round if anyone wanted copies of my old games that id made into isos but sadly everyones too busy on cod version 40000000000000000000000 and their brains may have melted lol.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Because piracy is different than theft,and under current laws as long as someone has an ownership of a game(or a movie,music,etc),getting it without compensating them is a crime,even if they arent selling it.Its silly,I agree,but thems the laws.

            1. el_b says:

              its worst for games like no one lives forever where known one even knows or cares who owns it, so they wont ok it being sold on gog. theyre too lazy to check if they have the rights to it and they wont let someone else update it for modern consoles and sell it even if they get a cut.

  3. Jokerman says:

    You said this feels like Silent hill 2…. and mike hasn’t even put on the green jacket yet.

  4. SlothfulCobra says:

    See, this is the true horror of Saw. Saw is the epitome of the type of horror that revolves around incredibly artificial thought experiments designed to force you to choose to do something horrible, and that sort of thought experiment can generate thoughts that can bleed into other things. If it weren’t for the fact that this is horror and the game gave you a prompt, nobody in their right mind would’ve thought to cut their fingers off.

    Why would you? The only other human around isn’t anywhere near you, and you specifically came here to stalk him anyways. It’s probably still going to be a while before you actively encounter him anyways.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Its not just the fact that its a horror,but that you are constantly being shown that creepy camera coming closer and closer.Couple with the danger music,the feeling is that something bad is approaching.So even if you didnt know this was a horror game,or the tropes of a horror,you would think mike is in danger.

    2. MrGuy says:

      I wonder if a simple fix would be to NOT have the Amputate Fingers prompt the first time. Have the prompts be “Open Trap” and “Yell For Help”. Either way, you fail the first 2 tries as the growling gets louder. Then your last choice (the only real one) is Open Trap or Amputate Fingers.

  5. MichaelG says:

    “Sure, you'll make something spoopy”… Is that a combination of scary and poopy? Because I’m sure the game industry is up to that…

    1. ehlijen says:

      It’s a term that’s been going around the internet for a while. To my knowledge, it’s a combination of spooky and spoof. I trust I don’t need to explain why k+f=p?

    2. Shamus says:

      Like ehlijen said, the term is new-ish as words go. I learned it from my kids. As I understand it, “spoopy” is used to describe things (especially Halloween decorations) that are cute-spooky rather than terror-spooky. Stuff like smiling ghosts and dancing skeletons are spoopy.

      1. Nathan says:

        According to Know Your Meme, it apparently originated from an image of a misspelled Halloween sign which then led to a meme circulating using ‘spoopy’ in labeling comically ‘spooky’ images and videos such as a ‘ghost recording’ that’s blatantly obviously a guy in a sheet prancing past the camera.

        1. Wolle says:

          As a non-native English speaker, I find “spoopy” to be a perfectly cromulent word.

      2. MichaelG says:

        Thanks. I pity anyone who has to learn English as a second language. Of course, I feel like I’m having to do that when I watch YouTube videos…

      3. King Marth says:

        Interesting, I presumed it was intended to be a reference to pants-ruining fear. Hard to unsee.

      4. batti says:

        basically David S. Pumpkins

        1. Aerik says:

          What’s David Pumpkins? Is that, like, from something? Like a local commercial?

    3. nemryn says:

      Spoopy is when you look at a thing and go “Yep, that’s a scary thing all right”, but it doesn’t actually scare you.

  6. ehlijen says:

    Who are you? What do you want?

    I want to go watch Babylon 5 again…

    But back on topic: I’m sure that latern will keep Mike warm. As long as there is a faint red glow effect on you from some kind of flame or fire, you’re warm, right?

    1. tzeneth says:

      You don’t feel warm when you shine a warm, red light on you? It warms me up right away. Unless it’s a spotlight, then it tends to make me way too hot after a bit…(I did theater when I was younger, so I have that experience. I also can’t say I have never worn a dress or makeup. The joys of comedy in theater are weird realities. Although, I can still say I have never worn high heels and am joyful for that while being sorrowful for woman who have to, even if they look good in them)

      1. ehlijen says:

        I’ve never been in a spotlight, but I have sandpapered boat hulls in a cold warehouse during winter and the work light next to me did warm me significantly, so I absolutely believe you. Heck, I’ve had a poorly designed desk lamp that you couldn’t turn off after you’d left it on for too long because the button was scalding hot!

        But that lamp Mike is holding does not look sufficient to warm him, even if his 3d model has a faint red glow effect on his textures. That was my point/joke.

        And agreed and the non sequitur aside. Heels look nice, but no one should wear them. It’s not worth the danger.

    2. el_b says:

      if cryostasis has taught me anything about survival, its that as long as you have bare skin next to a light source you wont freeze to death.

    3. Grudgeal says:

      I can’t look at those questions being asked, ever again, without considering Babylon 5. I would also say it’s made me a pain to ask those questions to, but I don’t think anyone ever has.

  7. Christopher says:

    Really good episode. The banter was on point from everyone involved, and because there wasn’t any dialogue in the game this time it was easy to listen to and follow along with. Shamus feeling Mike exudes stupidity tops my list. He’s COOL, man! He exudes confidence.

    The game is also kicking off now in earnest, with the teen conflicts(to separate characters) largely behind us. It’s fun to watch almost an entire episode of walking around a scary place exploring and then almost chop your own fingers off. That’s tense.

    Sorry to be that guy, but I got the Final Fantasy X series in the “From the Archives” segment and you might want to take another look at it.

    1. Mike Gruhunchously says:

      Mike is indeed as dumb as a box of rocks. This is a quality that he maintains throughout the game. It’s kind of endearing, at least when he’s not getting himself and/or others killed due to his idiocy.

      EDIT: It’s so endearing that I accidentally just named myself after him…

      1. Mike MichaelGC says:

        We should all do this; it’s adorable! Although it doesn’t quite work in my case. Just makes me look really indecisive.

    2. Shamus says:

      Fixing that typo is on my to-do list. I update the list once in a while when I have new crap to add. I’ll fix it then.

  8. ehlijen says:

    On the safe being old and rusty…isn’t the wooden plank just as old?

    What I’d have done is have Mike find the machete first, use that to pry open the safe and have a piece snap off. That way at the stupid trap machine, the player would already be worried that the blade won’t do the trick.

  9. Zeke says:

    Uhh…this has been misfiled under Random.

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So the bear trap.How much force does one exert?Would it actually cut your fingers clean off if you were in a situation like that?I know it would at least crush your bones,so those fingers would be downright useless now(not to mention a huge source of pain),but would it do more?

    Also,wouldnt he be able to open it with just his hands?Using the trapped hand to pull on one side while using his other hand to push the opposite side.Arent these designed to be openable just by your own hands?Seeing how their use is to trap dumb animals,and not people who are supposed to know how to open them.

    1. TheDecoy says:

      No idea to the first part, but it could always be a modified trap, seeing as it’s designed to slow down intruders and therefore made harder to reset.

    2. baseless_research says:

      I very much doubt you’ll want to move an inch of the trapped fingers, never mind put pressure on something with them.

    3. Gunther says:

      Pretty much impossible to discuss it without spoilers, but considering what the trap is designed to catch, it makes sense in retrospect that the guy who made it would make it difficult to remove (it’s not going to hurt the target after all, just hopefully hold it still long enough to flamethrower it). I also like that the severed human hand as bait seems on a first playthrough to be generic “horror game” creepiness, but actually makes sense.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Oh yeah,I havent thought of that.But shouldnt it then sever his fingers completely?It most definitely should have enough force for that.

        1. ? says:

          I don’t know if bear traps are sharpened like that, I think they are meant to immobilise the animal so it either starves or can be shot easily (and it’s fur can be collected undamaged). The teeth are there to better grab the target, not to inflict wounds (it wouldn’t do much to a bear anyway)

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            If it exerts enough force,it doesnt have to be particularly sharp in order to cut your fingers off.

    4. evileeyore says:

      “Arent these designed to be openable just by your own hands?”

      No, they are not. If you look to either side you can see the springs*. These must be depressed simultaneously to release the jaws. Normally this is done by standing on them, one foot on each spring. In this case if he had a buddy, they could push down on one while he pushed the other, but in this case… well, you can see why he’s basically stuck.

      * Refer to this image for terminology.

  11. baseless_research says:

    Mike, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you, but man, talk about getting fucked by the fickle finger of fate

    1. Andy_Panthro says:

      I don’t want to point any fingers here, but I feel like Mike should hold his hands up and admit that he handled the situation pretty poorly. I mean, a waving arm in a small box? it’s got those horror movie fingerprints all over it, and he could have saved himself the bother of going mano a mano with a bear trap.

      1. tmtvl says:

        I gotta hand it to him, he wrestled himself out of an armed bear trap without passing out from the pain. I imagine it’s more than any of us could hope to bear.

  12. Darren says:

    Shattered Memories felt very writer-driven. In fact, it probably could’ve used someone with more of an eye for gameplay to come in and work over the “run from monsters” sequences that never quite worked.

    Actually, that game would be a good fit for Spoiler Warning. I don’t know if there was a PC release, but in addition to being a pretty good game it has a few things in common with Until Dawn.

    1. Cinebeast says:

      It’s a lot of people’s favorite Silent Hill (including mine) for a reason. The gameplay really needed a second pass, though.

      1. el_b says:

        that second part could apply to most of the silent hill series, even when the stories have been good theyve felt very rough to handle. its been a long time but i remember 2 having slow clunky animations and the camera in 3 was really clumsy. i think shattered memories control problems were made worse by using motion controls, which are finicky in general.

  13. MrGuy says:

    This reminds me so much of the Bear Trap scene at the start of Chapter 2 of The Walking Dead.
    I tried to cut through the chain so hard that I ran out of time to cut off his foot, so I had to leave that guy to be eaten by zombies. Loved the tension, and it still bothers me I effectively killed that guy by trying to save his foot.

  14. guy says:

    Oh man, I’ve been watching B5, and at 1:01 you get to pick whether to ask him the Shadow Question or the Vorlon Question. Which is funny, because as the creepiest person in the room he should be the one asking those questions.

    1. ? says:

      And Shamus is a Shadow agent as it turns out.

  15. McNutcase says:

    Hey now. All my jeans have hammer loops, because they’re jeans as work clothes rather than fashion statements.

    Not that the hammer loops are good for anything. If I need to tote a hammer, I’ll just buckle on my tool belt. The loop is higher and better controlled.

  16. Andy_Panthro says:

    Alone in the Dark (1992) is my Silent Hill 2. The sequels and reboots never captured the same magic of the first game (AitD2+3 weren’t too bad though, although I never completed them).

    At least with Alone in the Dark, you can buy them on GOG.com for cheap.

  17. MichaelGC says:

    A sanatorium is a building for any long-term care; an asylum is specifically for the treatment of mental health. (Although obviously that last clause becomes horrifically euphemistic in the context of actual history…)

    So, an asylum is always a sanatorium (well, I’m sure there are short-stay ones…), but a sanatorium isn’t necessarily an asylum. Learn something boring every day! :D

  18. MichaelGC says:

    Open the bear trap jaws, pal. Oof, that were a nice comfortable scene, wannit? Yeeeeaaarrrgh. :D

  19. Merlin says:

    I have to say, I love the moment where the player goes to investigate the safe, and the camera – acting as Mike’s POV – zeroes in 100% on a nondescript board on the ground. “Oooh, a stick!

  20. Zak McKracken says:

    I’m starting to think that many the totems and “clues” have any significance… at least not in-game or to the player. What am I to make of a bunch of clock-in cards which Mike takes, says “oh shit” and puts them back? How is that a clue to anything? The existence of these things seems perfectly normal in an abandoned institution, and they don’t seem to be linked to anything else in the story. And most of the totem scenes are more or less arbitrary abstracted scenes of death and murder. If the idea is to avoid them… well sure, but I’ve no clue how.

  21. Zak McKracken says:

    I’m thinking that most of the time, that stupid lantern ist not helping Mike, except if his p,an is to be noticed by anyone glancing in his general direction while approaching the building. Once inside, there are enough other light sources, it’ll makesure he can be noticed even around a corner or two, and whenever he raises the lamp, he just blinds himself…

  22. That Mike thinks Jess is dead is important later (explains why he’s so single minded later).

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