Until Dawn EP13: Fax Checker

By Shamus
on Jan 11, 2017
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

47 comments

It’s been a month, but we’re finally getting back to Until Dawn…


Link (YouTube)

This falling tower is pretty confusing. I complain about it in tomorrow’s episode, but I have a feeling we’ll have bigger things to discuss at that point, so let’s talk about the tower now…

Let’s ignore the fact that a human can’t just chop through that sort of steel cable. Let’s also overlook that cutting one cableIt might be more than one. It only shows one, and I can’t tell if the sound effects are suggesting a second cut cable, or if that sound is just the first cable whipping around. The sounds are very close together. shouldn’t automatically bring the entire thing down right away. Let’s also ignore that the fall ought to be lethal for anyone at the top of the tower. Let’s also hand-wave that Emily was somehow able to hold on with her cold fingers despite the shoulder-destroying forces that would occur with such a fast descent and abrupt stop.

No, that’s all movie logic and we can ignore that stuff. My problem here is that I have no idea what happened. The tower fell over, driving the top into the snowy ground. This ought to end with Matt and Emily pounded into the snow with a few tons of flaming debris on top of them. But instead the tower is somehow underground now? Was there an open chasm beside the tower that the camera never showed us? Is the story suggesting that the top of the tower “punched through” the ground to an underground cavern, and did so without pulverizing the cabin? What position is this stuff in? Above ground it looks like the cabin should be upside-down, but from the perspective of Matt and Emily it’s perfectly sideways.

This entire scene is a geographic mess and I have no idea what we’re supposed to THINK happened.

And of course once again our killer is an invisible omniscient invincible master of chaos theory.

“Okay, I’ll cut this cable, which I know for 100% certain will cause the tower to flip over right away. Then the tower will fall over in this exact direction to deposit the teens into the caves. I’ll teleport down there and begin dragging Matt away, and if he makes any effort to attack me I’ll let him go and turn invisible.”

Sure, there might be multiple people working together, but the second guy (or is it third? Or fifth?) still had to know to climb down into the caves to capture Matt.

The guy attacking these teens had better be Dr. StrangeStephen, not Hugo..

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From the Archives:

  1. Grimwear says:

    Having never played the game, the only reason I can conceive for the herd of deer section would be at the beginning when you can choose between crowds or planes being scarier. Are the deer still there if you chose planes being scarier? When making the choices the crowds one always seemed odd to me since I have no idea how the game is supposed to integrate large groups into an experience that focuses on being isolated and alone.

  2. Daniel England says:

    I always like to build a mental map of my surroundings, both in game ans irl. To that end, they really should have shown the chasm that was sitting next to the tower, just have Matt or Emily point to it or something… Totally agree with how random and confusing it felt.

    • Christopher says:

      I’m into this development. On the playthrough I watched, Mike died here.

      The tower fell over, driving the top into the snowy ground. This ought to end with Matt and Emily pounded into the snow with a few tons of flaming debris on top of them. But instead the tower is somehow underground now? Was there an open chasm beside the tower that the camera never showed us?

      When the tower starts collapsing around 13 minutes in and Emily is lying on the glass, you first see the chasm from the inside and then see several items from the tower break through the glass and plummet into it. I wasn’t personally very confused by that. We’ve already been down in the mines with Mike, and now this is another entrance. Neither is the tower sideways. You can see the ladder they used to get up still be perfectly vertical, around 13:45. Matt even climbs up it(or down it, rather) again. The tower leans more sideways before it dips into the mines, but it does tip completely over.

      Having said that, props to Emily for being able to hang on as the tower collapses into the chasm with a bang and then turn around and switch her position so she’s standing on the railing she was hanging from.

      I wonder how much of this breaking tower actually does make sense in the gameworld. I felt like I got a pretty good idea of it, but it might be a Street Fighter supers without the dynamic camera angles kind of situation. Some of it makes sense, but some of it just looks like it does.

  3. Ninety-Three says:

    I’m surprised that your post didn’t complain about this aspect of the tower scene Shamus: Where the hell did that fire come from?

    I had to rewatch the scene, because the first time it seemed like the tower just spontaneously combusted. Much like the cave the tower ends up in, they do a really bad job of showing you what’s going on. Apparently the tower falling over caused a spark because that’s how movie logic says electrical systems work, which caused the floor, currently sitting at an icy -10 degrees, to ignite, and then the flames then rapidly spread across the floor because Dr. Strange covered it in gasoline

  4. Jokerman says:

    Just…. imagine climbing that ladder, for that long, in that weather with no gloves. I say impossible….

  5. Ivellius says:

    I love how you guys timed the intros in this episode. Also, I’ve missed this.

  6. Grudgeal says:

    …Why do the deer have antlers in winter? Deer antlers are seasonal, the male deer grow them in spring to impress the fine lady deer and shed them in fall when they’re no longer needed to look cool (deer, in general, not being very fond of wasteful mating displays and pregnancies during winter).

    If you want an indication of things being ‘weird’, beyond, you know, a whole pack of them showing up to challenge the hominids to an impromptu staring contest at cliffside, that’s one right there.

    • Gunther says:

      They aren’t deer, they’re elk. The teens call them “deer”, but they look like and act (by travelling in large groups of all males) like elk. Which makes sense as the game is set at a ski lodge in Canada.

      It’s actually kind of a cool detail that they get the name wrong – would you really expect a bunch of American teens to be able to tell deer and elk apart at a glance?

    • Tizzy says:

      For what it’s worth, peak mating season for deers is November around these parts. Sure, deer and not elk, and southern US and not Alberta.

  7. Grudgeal says:

    …Also, bad video games Josh? Nocturne (or “Lucifer’s Call” as we call it) was, and possibly still is, the best SMT game in my book. Yeah, the third-person camera wasn’t as good as the later games did it and the graphics look a bit blocky by today’s standards, but the setting and the atmosphere of a doomed world was top-notch and the choices you made could lead down to some really fascinating endings.

  8. Rivlien says:

    I’d play the Hugo Strange survival horror game.

  9. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    As somebody who’s beat the entire game… I actually have questions about this section too. Not Shamus’ questions, those aren’t really questionable. I’m talking about:
    Who actually cut the wires? It’s out of character for “the Psycho” and he’s way out of position anyway. If it was a critter (I won’t say the type for spoilers’ sake), this would be the ONLY time in the game they use a weapon. While there is a trap late in the game suggesting the things have human intelligence, that one could be explained away as some kind of predator instinct. This would be completely different. Thoughts on what happened here, other players of the game?

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    My horror knowledge is a bit sparse,so can someone answer this question(very slight spoiler):

    Is there any other horror story that mixes supernatural danger with unrelated mundane human danger?Or is until dawn the only one that does this?

    • Merlin says:

      It feels like a pretty common trope, though not one with examples that come readily to mind. (Which feels part and parcel of tropes, but that’s another story.) In the non-horror space, Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire basically does this, with a ton of political villainy going on in the foreground and a zombie apocalypse in the background. Final Fantasy Tactics is similar – apparently The War of the Roses is good inspiration for that.

      The best TVTropes page I can find is Scooby-Doo Hoax, which has a couple examples of people just pretending to be monsters, and whoops it turns out there are also monsters. I mean, it’s not really that groundbreaking from a narrative structure perspective, right? What appears to be one problem is actually many – or at least, what appears to be one antagonist is actually multiple operatives, not all of whom are necessarily pursuing the same goals.

    • MichaelGC says:

      It’s not horror as such, but I’m just watching Joseph Anderson’s giant video about the Uncharted games, and apparently the second one does something which sounds along very similar lines: i.e. you have fakeout supernatural elements (somewhat pointlessly) mixed in with genuine supernatural elements. As he says in the vid, there’s even a Scooby Doo mask-rip scene! :D

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    On the subject of quick time events,has anyone tried to press x to not die?

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I wouldve definitely been able to climb that tower with the axe.But thats because unlike this hipster I wear proper pants with a belt.So I would just loosen the belt one notch,and pull the axe through it.There,instant improvised holster.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ive spotted an interesting quirk.When someone actually dies,the game shows it to you,in glorious detail.When they want to fake you out,they just fall and you dont see where.Even though both she and the other one should be dead because of these falls,Im pretty sure they are not.

    There is one exception to this,of course,but we shall talk about that later.

    • guy says:

      I’ve found this to be sort of a general media rule; if you don’t actually see someone dying they very probably aren’t dead, except if it’s third-person limited or first-person and the narrator finds out secondhand, in which case they might still not be dead.

      • MichaelGC says:

        Then there’s the comic book addendum to that rule where even if you watch someone pounded into their constituent atoms and then see the universe those atoms form part of collapse into a singularity, they’re probably not dead.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The whole chasm thing,I think the mine scene was there to establish that this whole area is full of underground caves.So I can kind of,sort of see why the tower collapsing would end up with them being underground.

  15. Tizzy says:

    that flare gun thing was so confusing, especially with the totem that tells you to hand the gun to him. I was NOT impressed when I handed it just to see him fire it up in the air: “Gee thanks, I guess. If this is what I meant for you to do with the flare gun, I could have done it myself, you know…”

    • Shoeboxjeddy says:

      Apparently, you need to decide things a certain way (argue) with Emily, then Matt is unconvinced by the “call for help” strategy and instead keeps the flare for himself. Doing THAT is very helpful. Unfortunately, the “shoot it off right now for no reason” path is WAY easier and more likely to get.

  16. guy says:

    Admittedly, my first thought with the flare gun actually was firing it off immediately, since firing them into the air to signal for help is the actual intended purpose of flare guns. But the cabin does seem fairly isolated and it’s snowing, so I guess it wouldn’t be likely anyone would see it.

  17. Steve C says:

    It’s a print job that lasted in stasis for a year. At the top of a frozen tower. With no power. Print jobs are powered by undead zombie magic. Sadly I’m not being sarcastic. That is believable. They could have lampshaded it though.

    • Groboclown says:

      I was thinking the same thing. But it looks like the fax had already printed (a color fax, too!), but it hadn’t finished coming through the rollers. Some printers can detect when coming online whether there’s paper somewhere in the system and will try to move it out.

      Yeah, for that to work, the power had to shut off at just the right moment.

  18. Zak McKracken says:

    So, Matt…

    I still don’t get why everyone hates him so. All his stupid actions (in this playthrough) are player-mandated. When he’s not undernplayer control, he’s completely okay, maybe a bit quiet. Emily on the other hand is the best person ever to make me get really unfriendly, and she does it all the time, player-controlled or not, and she’s waaay more selfish than smart.

    Also, who or what is dragging Matt? I could not see anything. The video looked as if he was sliding backwards on his back while trying to get rid of a bunch of insects crawling over his chest… that looked plain wrong. This confuses me more than the tower thing.

    • Shamus says:

      Rather than thinking “all of his dumb actions are player-mandated” think of it like, “So many of his offered choices are stupid.”

      Mike can choose:
      1) Risky but fast.
      2) Safe but slow.

      Both of those options can look attractive to a reasonable person.

      Matt can choose:
      1) Do very stupid thing.
      2) Do reasonable thing.

      It makes it feel like you’re fighting against his true nature. The fact that you’re offered a choice to say, “I’ll rescue you, but first you have to agree to this relationship bullshit” suggests that this is something that he thought was a viable course of action. (Although I guess it depends on how you interpret the player’s input. It’s a strange meta-thing.)

      • Zak McKracken says:

        The way I interpreted that bit was similar to the quicktime event with the deer. It’s a temptation to resitst. You have an axe, and there are deer. Of course you shouldn’t use it, but you could. Same with Emily. She’s hanging there and doing what she does best, which is insulting people, and that action choice was to me just a gentle reminder of how much I dislike her.

        Really, the main thing I don’t like about Matt is that he allows Emily to dominate him. He’s missing some bold courses of action, like telling her to shut up already. So, yeah, he’s weak, but weakness is not something to hate someone for. What I hate people for is when they use their strength against others, not for being weak because that’s a punishment already.

        Whether Matt is weak and stupid or weak and smart despite Emily seems mostly up to the player. He’s easily bullied, and that may be something I have some empathy for …

  19. Hey Shamus, take a look at the tower wire cutting scene again. It could have been the stream audio quality for you that obscured it but listen carefully: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjDoKo8iW8A&t=743

    I hear two more wire cutting/snapping sounds after the first. So by my count that is 3 wires.

    • MichaelGC says:

      I was speculating above that the first cut may have been inadvertent, but that sounds fairly purposeful to me. Which is perhaps a little odd.

      Although … both Emily and Matt do feel a bit ‘tacked on’ at times. I do wonder if it was originally just the six. It would explain why there are a few oddities in approach during the scenes featuring them. This just a slight hunch, though; I don’t feel adamant about it at all – and actually if I’m right, one could argue that they’ve really been integrated into the story rather well.

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