A while back, a friend and I attempted what we called a Maximum Chaos playthrough of the game Until Dawn. Until Dawn is basically an interactive horror movie, presented cinematically but offering its players the chance to steer the story in different directions based on character interactions, decisions, and quick time events in action scenes. The Maximum Chaos run involves picking the most risky choices, starting as many fights between characters as possible, and not hitting any of the QTEs, leading to the most exciting, dramatic, and gory story possible. Given Until Dawn’s “anyone can die” premise, this leads to some interesting and brutal action. But, as we learned along the way, it also reveals that certain characters are quite literally indestructible no matter what your button-pressing and narrative choices inflict on them, and some are far too easy to damage, which leaves the game with some unfortunate implications.
Spoilers for the game, character deaths and possible endings beyond this point!
Yet, even before I left, I got to experience a portion of one of the most popular games of the year and, in my opinion, the most innovative of the year. Until Dawn, the newest game from Supermassive Games, quickly gained popularity in online Let’s Player circles and in the general gaming populace based on the hype it had created at various gaming conferences. The game focuses on a group of friends coming back to commemorate the memory of two of their other friends who unfortunately died a year earlier, only to be put in danger themselves and having to survive until dawn to be rescued from death. Add on top of this quick time events that feel immersive for once (rather than just annoying) and a deft use of motion controls that can get you killed if you’re too jittery, and you have a game that single-handedly breathed new life into the survival horror genre and partially filled the hole in gamers’ hearts where Silent Hills would have gone. But, as always, what really made the game a success for me was the characters, and today’s fic looks at these characters in a way that tries to resolve the unfortunate conclusion of this otherwise fantastic game.