Beware of traps

This is a horror game, written by Hollywood horror film veterans. They like to be puppeteers. They put a lot of jump scares in the game. They also like messing with your mind by laying traps for you. If something looks like a trap, then you might just want to avoid it.

Remember who the enemies are

Samantha and Josh in Until Dawn.

Above: Samantha and Josh in Until Dawn.

Image Credit: Sony

You have to be aware of the enemies and what they’re likely to do. And it pays to remember that the environment can be your enemy. When you run into a wolf, it makes sense not to attack it, but to try to make a friend out of it. If you have been killing off animals like crazy, this is probably not going to be an option. You have to remember there are real threats and real killers out there, and you don’t need to make more enemies than necessary.

Read what the faces tell you

A frightened character in Until Dawn. Will you save her?

Above: A frightened character in Until Dawn. Will you save her?

Image Credit: Sony

You should also pay attention to the facial expressions of characters. If a character looks like they’re hiding something, that’s no accident. You can get just as much feedback on a person by watching how they behave, rather than listening to what they say.

At the same time, be wary of false choices. Often, you are forced to make a choice without perfect information. You have to do it on a timer, in a split second. Don’t forget there can be a third choice: doing nothing.

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Don’t make assumptions

Emily in Until Dawn.

Above: Emily in Until Dawn.

Image Credit: Sony

It’s pretty hard to figure out the mysteries of the game before the revelations tell you what is going on toward the end. But if you’ve been listening to everything I’ve said so far, you’ll be well served to pay attention to everything, focus on the details, and don’t assume that small things are unimportant. In fact, as the Butterfly Effect theory suggests, small things are very important and they are among the best clues to what is happening.

Don’t panic

These two are at least sticking together in Until Dawn.

Above: These two are at least sticking together in Until Dawn.

Image Credit: Sony

When the chips are down, you may have a choice between saving somebody else or saving yourself. If you are patient, stay cool, and don’t panic, you may find that you can fare better. You may be able to save yourself quickly. But if you play the game so that others have a better chance of survival, that could maximize the number of survivors. And if you have made a poor choice, you may still have a chance to recover. If you make a series of good choices after a blunder, you may very well wind up in a better position.

Play it again

Who will your survivors be? Here's Mike and Sam in Until Dawn.

Above: Who will your survivors be? Here’s Mike and Sam in Until Dawn.

Image Credit: Sony

If you’re ready to play again, you should check out the individual episodes, which are playable as self-contained missions after you’ve finished. You should play those missions to see how you could have saved a character who died. Once you’ve done that, you can go back to the beginning and start a new story. When you start a new story, you won’t be able to play those episodes again. This form of trial-and-error will save you time. Better to replay an episode for an hour than to replay the whole game for 10 hours in order to find out how to make one critical decision.

What are your own tips? Please offer them in the comments. But please try to avoid major spoilers. Oh, and the game has a lot of gruesome scenes and typical horror film gore. I wouldn’t recommend you play it with young kids. Some scenes are terrific and fun, but the next may be filled with swearing, sexual innuendo, or horror movie gore.

In the end, don’t worry if your attrition rate is high at first. It’s exceedingly hard to save a few of the characters. It basically takes multiple playthroughs because they die so randomly. On my first run through, I was able to save only three of the characters, and I felt pretty good about that. I did, however, feel like I had been cheated by the storytellers who stole two characters away from me. On my second try, I was only able to save five of the eight characters, and I didn’t really see a clear path to saving them. Each choice you make is supposed to be informed, but there are some random ones in there to throw the player off, Reznick said.

It’s not an easy game, but it’s definitely replayable.