Until Dawn EP19: The Doge of Menace

By Shamus
on Feb 1, 2017
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

According to the Wiki, Mike can’t be killed here. Watch this entire section with that in mind. Imagine a player flubbing every single quicktime event. That really would ruin the magic trick.

I wonder how common that is?

I’m willing to bet it’s extremely rare for first-time players. Like, even if you hate Mike and wish he’d die, I’m willing to bet you’ll want to do this section properly because it’s a videogame and you’re here to play a videogame.

There’s a bit in Batman: Arkham City where Penguin is going to punch Bruce Wayne in the face. The section is a bit like Until Dawn here, where it’s sort of a cutscene with dialog but there’s also a prompt you can respond to. Of course, I’ve always hit the prompts to counter Penguin’s punch and break free. I’ve often been curious what happens if you don’t touch the controller and let him blast you in the face. Does the beating go until you press counter? Do you eventually get a game over? Is there more dialog if he lands the punch?

I’ve played through that scene half a dozen times. I’ve always been curious about it. But when the moment comes I find the temptation to push the button is irresistible. I imagine it’s the same thing for would-be Mike murderers in Until Dawn. You may want him dead, but you’re not willing to “fail” to make it happen.

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202020426 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. lucky7 says:

    Penguin will beat you to death if you don’t counter him. Tested it myself a year ago.

    There’s a similar scene at the end of Arkham Origins where you will be killed if you don’t counter.

    • MichaelGC says:

      Depends on the difficulty level. If you’re playing on Easy he starts waughing that you’re OP and eventually wanders off to find a forum to complain about you on.

      No, but seriously, he’s punched me 31 times so far and is showing no signs of overing my game any time soon. I’ll just leave him whaling on me whilst I watch the episode and provide an update if there’s any change.

      • MichaelGC says:

        Well, it’s been like twenty minutes by this stage and he’s showing no signs of slowing down, so I’m going to go ahead and put me out of my misery, I reckon.

        “I think he’s broken my bloody hand,” says Penguin. Yeah, not bloody surprising, really.

    • Tizzy says:

      And even though Mike cannot die, there are non-lethal consequences to messing up here. Some of them would even be easy to miss.

      I thought this game handled failure in an interesting way. Everyone can die, but every player gets to see the movie (game) to the last scene, whatever else happens. That and the fact that you can’t go to a previously saved game really gives the game a sense of forward momentum. Cinematic, I guess.

      • Thomas says:

        That is one of the big things David Cage has championed for this style of game. The genre shift helped though, you can end a horror story with any level of misery, but a mystery story requires answers and if you do badly enough at Heavy Rain the ending can begin to feel like a non-standard game over.

        (Heavy Rain is also set-up to basically invite second time players to see the mistakes Shamus is talking about, which is doubly bad because 2 out of 4 characters have heavy plot armour)

        • Tizzy says:

          I see. Until Dawn is the only game of this type that I’ve played, but even then I got the sense that one of the really inspired decisions was the choice of the horror genre and to make it adhere to genre conventions.

          It makes splitting the party, jumping from character to character, and anyone can die feel natural in this context. And even a TPK makes for a complete story, no outcome feels invalid.

      • Zak McKracken says:

        Just guessing: Could Mike have killed the two Wendigoag with the barrel and the shotgun? That would seem like an important consequence…

        I would indeed not let him die here, notwithstanding not having a lot of sympathies for him, especially what with just storming off without something like a plan, or, you know, reading the stranger’s notebook first.

  2. Ivellius says:

    The plural of “wendigo” is something like “wendigoag.” Shamus was correct in that it is a weird linguistic plural.

  3. Abnaxis says:

    So, is there any consequence to failing the QTEs? My guess was that sequence in the end, with the exploding barrels, will have more wendigoag charging Mike.

    Does the dog actually die if you mess up too much? Did it die in Josh’s sequence? It just kind of disappeared…

    • Ledel says:

      It’s a very special kind of Dog.

    • Tizzy says:

      The consequences are limited to: (1) fate of the dog (2) situation that Mike is in when we next cut back to him. But however dire his situation, he is never in danger of dying even then. He can only die at dawn, but he can die in two different ways if I’m not mistaken.

    • Benjamin Hilton says:

      Most of Mike’s QTE’s do have effects, they just effect other people such as earlier in the game where Jess would be dead if you took to long getting to her. I’m actually ok with this because Mike is sort of the game’s safety valve for the end. If you fuck up at the end and get the character you’re playing killed then Mike will sacrifice himself so that whoever’s left can escape, or if everyone else is dead Mike will sacrifice himself just to take the Wendigo’s down too so there is some sort of narrative closure. This also makes Mike more likeable on subsequent playthroughs since you now know that he is willing to die to save his friends.

  4. Tizzy says:

    “Wendigos are endangered.”

    Well of course they are, Rutskarn: that’s the problem with living in a post-scarcity economy. Not enough cannibals, just ones who do it recreationally.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Considering that they are malevolent creatures,Id think that wendigi are more easily created from those who eat people for fun than from those who do it out of necessity.

      • ? says:

        I think that desperation fueled by cold and genuine risk of life is central part of wendigo myth. It’s a fairy tale that says “no matter how dire things get in the mountains, do not eat other people or you will find fate worse than death”. It exists to prevent justifications of cannibalism due to survival, because once you compromise and accept that in extreme circumstances cannibalism is not taboo, arseholes would have very loose definition of extreme danger. And long term survival of a group depends on cooperation and not living in constant fear that your buddy decides that missing lunch once is unacceptable and murders you. I don’t think “recreational cannibals” would be scared off by prospect of turning into bloodthirsty monster. It’s not a morality tale for them.

        • evileeyore says:

          “I don’t think “recreational cannibals” would be scared off by prospect of turning into bloodthirsty monster.”

          Well, that and those sorts of degenerates become ghouls, not wendigo.

  5. Cinebeast says:

    “I feel like Mike would’ve been played by Freddie Prince Jr. ten years ago.”

    “Ugh, can we kill him just for that comment?”

    I know Rutskarn’s just joking, but for the record, Freddie Prince Jr. is actually kind of a saint. Like, a really, really cool guy. He was in some shit movies earlier in his career, but nowadays he does fantastic work voice acting for Bioware and Disney, and he streams games too. He’s a total bro.

  6. MichaelGC says:

    I’m fairly sure everything said about the B-Wing was incorrect apart from like the pauses between the words.

    • silver Harloe says:

      They said it looked like a cross, and that is accurate.

    • Henson says:

      And it is a bomber craft.

      • MichaelGC says:

        It’s a fighter.

        • John says:

          It’s a deathtrap, second only to the Y-Wing for its ability to get pilots killed. Seriously, that thing is slow, an easy kill for even the most minimally competent Imperial pilot.

          • MichaelGC says:

            FIGHTERRRRRR! It does mention the word ‘bomber’ – twice, versus eighteen for ‘fighter,’ one of which is in the title (“A/SF-01 B-wing starfighter”), and several more times when describing its inception and original purpose:

            The B-wing fighter was originally designed by Joe Johnston and Bill George for Return of the Jedi. The craft derives its name from the fact that the crew labeled the two new Rebel Alliance starfighter models in Return of the Jedi as “A fighter” and “B fighter.”

            So, whilst I can allow it may perhaps have been used to bomb something on occasion, just calling it a ‘bomber’ is as correct as calling the Hoth things “snowATATcabletrippers.” Not technically incorrect, but missing the main point by several parsecs. Thus, fight me and/or bomb me IRL. FIGHTERRRRR!

  7. Jokerman says:

    I did a playthrough of Heavy Rain just failing everything, since that game has a lot of plot armor early on, just going through the game being the worst at everything and getting your ass kicked every other scene was pretty funny.

    The part where Mike is chasing after Jess is hilarious if you fail them all, he just acts like the clumsiest dumbass possible, just banging his head and tripping over every damn thing.

    Here is a video of some of the fails, including the one i mentioned.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfUVoXW-SMU

  8. Wraith says:

    It does ruin the magic if you fail the QTEs in the Asylum revisit.

    You get pounced by a Wendigo and it cuts to black and then to the next segment. Mike shows up again unscathed somehow at the end of Sam’s next big segment. This happens the first QTE you fail once the danger is apparent, and Mike is teleported to the entrance of the Asylum no matter where you failed it in the original scene.

    Yeah…don’t fuck it up.

  9. Gunther says:

    The dog dying is a far worse punishment for the player than just having Mike die, IHMO.

  10. DTor214 says:

    Oh my gosh, yes! On, like, my fifth playthrough of Mass Effect 2, I got everyone killed, just to see what it would be like, and it was so hard to resist the urge to “win” at the game. So hard! I tried to do the same thing for The Banner Saga, and I just couldn’t do it.

    • Vermander says:

      I’ve had this dilemma before in Bioware games. There’s usually at least one companion character who I don’t like or don’t want to deal with, but deliberately letting them get killed seems too sadistic, callous, or negligent for the type of character I’m playing. Sometimes even ignoring them or kicking them out of the party feels wrong. I keep thinking “why would Shephard discard a useful ally out of spite?” or “why is my normally friendly, compassionate, and outgoing Inquisitor being so rude and dismissive to this dreary but well meaning ghost kid?”

      • Christopher says:

        I liked that you could just show people the door in Inquisition. Sera is the first Bioware party member I didn’t even pick up because I hated her intro.

        Picked her up on my second playthrough though. She’s better in conversation.

        This is the mindset difference between players who basically view their characters as avatars vs characters to roleplay I guess.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Most unknown animal should be approached from below.This way,you dont scare them(much),particularly if you crouch,because animals dont like things that are higher than them.Which is also why cats arch their backs,or get to their hind legs when they feel they are in danger.Also,you should not go for petting the animal before they smell you,and allow you to actually pet them.Which is another reason why you should approach them from below,where their nose usually is.

    But this dog wasnt unknown,you befriended it earlier.So mike is fine here.

    As for cats,they can be even moodier.Allowing you to pet their belly for a bit,then biting/scratching you once they decide they had enough.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wouldnt wendigoi be more like klingons than romulans?

  13. Grimwear says:

    So since Chris brought up Orange Julius I figured I’d share an anecdote. So growing up as a child the first time I ever heard of a Julius was when Orange Julius opened up in a mall near my house. That being the case for some reason I always just assumed that all the drinks were named Orange Julius rather than orange being a flavour of Julius. For over a decade I’d always order a strawberry Orange Julius and it wasn’t until this year that a worker finally asked for clarification if I wanted a strawberry-orange Julius or just a strawberry Julius. Goodness knows how many times I thought I was ordering strawberry and ended up with strawberry-orange. What’s worse is that I’d never noticed a difference.

  14. doran says:

    Shamus, could you please turn on automatic captioning for this video like the other ones?

    I have a hearing disability, and it makes it much easier when listening to the group’s comments.

  15. Christopher says:

    I think Until Dawn is a better “modern point and click adventure with choices and QTEs instead of combining items” than any of the others I’ve seen, mostly because the choices aren’t annoying. It’s enough to just be told that “If you kill this character instead of his character in Walking Dead, the other one will die in their place one episode later because branching is hard”. That’s unbearably annoying for me, and Life is Strange was just as bad. Make all the choices you want, you’re gonna time travel your way out of them in an episode anyway.

    Until Dawn is neat because there isn’t that much direct choice. You just perform well at a QTE, or you kept a flare gun around without firing it, and that’s the way you keep characters alive. No promises that the Rachni Queen or saving the council will come up again. It does branching by not having any choices that require branching, and rarely shows except for the part where Jess falls down the shaft and Mike thinks she’s dead no matter what.

    It’s a neat way of doing it, and it works best with an ensemble cast so the game just keeps going if you die.

    • MichaelGC says:

      It’s too far from a point and click for that description to be apposite. It’s more like “an FMV adventure except good and with no FMV,” or “a modern Dragon’s Lair, except good.” Instead of “point and click” you may as well say “third person cover-based shooter with choices and quicktime events instead of cover and most of the shooting.”

      • Christopher says:

        I mostly view them as a variant of PC point & click Adventure games because that’s where Telltale came from. I heard about them doing new sequels to old properties like Sam and Max, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park and Secret of Monkey Island in a pretty old-fashioned style, and then they started with the Walking Dead kind of games. And maybe that’s the wrong impression, I think maybe Jurassic Park already had pretty much the same gameplay as the Walking Dead.

        Wikipedia calls Until Dawn “Interactive drama, survival horror, adventure”. Walking Dead is “Graphic adventure, interactive drama”. Jurassic park is “Graphic Adventure”. Sam & Max Save the World is “Graphic Aventure”. Sam & Max Hit the Road is “Graphic Adventure”. Life is Strange is “Graphic Adventure”. Secret of Monkey Island 2 is “Graphic Adventure”. Heavy Rain is “Interactive drama, action-adventure”. Oxenfree is “Graphic Adventure”. Batman: The Telltale Series is “Graphic Adventure”.

        I couldn’t tell you where the lines are drawn, exactly. It’s like trying to define an RPG. But I think these kinds of games came from PC point & click adventure games rather than shooters or Dragon’s Lair.

        • MichaelGC says:

          Aye, these things are often a bit tricky, but I don’t think this is an especially difficult one – for once! Sam & Max and Monkey Island are oldschool point-&-clicks, and everything else you’ve listed isn’t. I was being silly with the shooter example, of course, but I do think that Until Dawn is much closer to being a descendant of Dragon’s Lair (done well, I should stress!) than to anything pointy and/or clicky.

    • Yep! I love how everyone can die and everyone can live. Right now I can’t think of any other games that do that.

      I’m curious as to how the design choices was made. I’m guessing they decided that stuff like the flare gun or not hurting animals etc. Overall they do not change the story. But if you fuck up those tiny things you did/did not do will give you an extra chance to survive (a perfect 20 bonus roll if you use RPG methodology).

  16. Merlin says:

    Chris, I just want to say that I appreciate not being the only one to make a Patrick Ewing crack in the middle of that Star Wars silliness.

  17. Aspeon says:

    If a dog eats another dog, does it become a wendoggo?

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