Something I was looking up for UD2 fanfic ideas was the idea of spirit animals (or animal/spirit guides, totems, power animals, whichever term you prefer)... and while researching I came across some interesting animal symbolism, particularly with some of the animals the characters face. Since the mountain has some rich Native American history it is possible that the animals that show up are actually omens for the characters:
Squirrel: the squirrel from Chapter One is first encountered by Sam on the way to the lodge, and is encountered again at the shooting range where Chris can choose to shoot or spare the creature. Interesting, squirrels can be interpreted to be symbols of karma, as they bury acorns which grow into trees which ultimately supply them with food, "reap what you sow" basically. They can also be associated social interaction, encouraging people to be tactful and considerate in their relationships. These can apply to Chris, and the outcome of his treatment of Ashley. If he chooses himself over her in the saw-trap scene he is directly contradicting this omen of being respectful of others, and so he ultimately receives karma when he is later locked outside and killed by the Wendigo. On the other hand, respecting Ashley by sparing her will result in her sparing him, which is an example of good karma.
Crow: also encountered in Chapter One, the crow attacks and injures Sam if Chris killed the squirrel. Crows are often seen as symbols of death, but are also associated with prophecy, sacred law and destiny. This explains why this particular bird is responsible for the attack - the natural order has been arbitrarily tampered with and so it is exacting justice on nature's behalf.
Raccoon: Chris encounters raccoons in a humorous scene where they jump out of a bathroom cabinet. While this scene may appear superficial or pointless, the particular use of the raccoon in this scene instead of another type of rodent is curious and perhaps points to something deeper and darker. Raccoons are known for their deceit, resourcefulness, light-heartedness and trickster nature... all of which can be used to describe Josh. Raccoons are often interpreted as a signal for people to become aware of their various personas or masks due to the creatures' "masked" faces, and Josh uses a mask to conceal his alter ego the Psycho. Is it possible that the raccoons serve to foreshadow Josh's true nature? The fact that Chris gets scared twice by raccoons (the second time its identity is better seen due to it running outside into the brighter setting) may correlate with him being psychologically tormented twice by the Psycho before finally discovering that their abuser is really his best friend after the second "prank".
Elk: Matt and Emily are faced with a herd of Elk in Chapter 7 on the way to the fire tower. Like Chris, Matt has the option to leave the creatures alone or kill them. If he harms them he can potentially meet his doom by being driven off a cliff. The Elk is associated with strength, stamina, pride, survival and nobility, traits which closely compliment Matt's persona. It is possible that this animal is his spirit animal (that is, the animal manifestation of his soul), and so harming his own spirit animal results in destructive karmatic energy for him. A life for a life, so to speak. Alternatively, Elks also symbolise the need to be patient, courageous and aware of competitiveness. These relate to remaining calm being the safest choice when engaging with the Elk herd, and may also allude to his rivalry with Emily ex-boyfriend Mike.
Any thoughts on this???
in Game Discussion
There's a few things I'm confused about concerning the Wendigos. I understand that there are many more Wendigos than just Hannah/Makkapitew who were once miners. I'm not sure of the exact number but that doesn't really bother me.
1. Excluding Hannah/Makkapitew, are all of the Wendigos locked up in the sanatorium?
2. When Mike explores the Sanatorium how many does he release and/or kill?
3. How exactly do those Wendigos make their way into the basement of the lodge, is that because it is connected to the sanatorium?
4. Hannah/Makkapitew kills two Wendigos in the lodge before getting killed in the explosion. But what about the two or three Wendigos in the basement, or the surviving ones (if any) from the sanatorium? Doesn't that mean that most of the Wendigos are still alive, and possibly freed thanks to Mike?
5. I know for certain that Hannah/Makkapitew at least killed Emily and Josh (and Ashley in the lodge) because of the butterfly tattoo clearly visible on its right bicep during these particular kills (and Sam too but it's not as obvious, you have to be really quick to catch a glimpse of the tattoo before it zooms in to her face as she's impaled), but what about the Wendigo in Chapter 10 with Matt and/or Jess in the mines, or in Chapters 9 with Chris (as well as his potential deaths in Chapter 8) and/or Ashley with the trapdoor, or Mike in Chapter 10 inside the lodge? I can't make out a tattoo on the killing Wendigo's arm in these instances... can someone please get some screenshots showing the tattoo in these instances if possible?
6. Amidst the flames at the end of the game, there's a fiery Wendigo face and a deafening screech, indicating that the spirit of the Wendigo has been released. While Makkapitew does move on from host to host, do the ordinary Wendigos do the same and possess the next cannibalistic person they come across?
in Game Discussion
"Slinking through cold winter nights in the forest, hiding in caves and shadows dwells a fearsome spirit. Algonquin folklore describes this malevolent creature as a human eater, with an essence powerful enough to possess and transform human beings into one of them…into a Wendigo, should a person resort to cannibalism. The Wendigo are the evil antagonists of the interactive drama survival horror game Until Dawn. The game follows a group of eight teenagers spending the night in a ski lodge during a snowstorm exactly one year after the mysterious disappearances of their friends Hannah and Beth. Shortly after their arrival, the teens are stalked by a masked psychopath who puts them through a series of sadistic tests and games.The youths, however, soon realize that a greater threat is upon them: The Wendigo. Sam, Mike, Emily, Matt, Josh, Chris, Ashley, and Jessica just have to survive until dawn, when help can arrive.
Until Dawn seems to defy many classic horror tropes when it is not giving the genre homage. The women in the game are given agency, intelligence, wit, and personality, giving them all the opportunity to survive with a companion or not. The final action in the game which determines if the survivors ultimately live or die is in the hands of a woman. However, for the characters of Mike, Chris, and Josh, classic tropes define their masculinities and influence every choice they make in the game. The wrong choices could get themselves or their friends killed. Mike represents hegemonic masculinity: assertive, conventionally attractive, physically strong, and aggressive. Chris represents a more adolescent masculinity with a dire coital imperative. Josh represents the most emotional masculinity, is the most weak in the game and, interestingly, is the only playable character (aside from his sisters Hannah and Beth) that can not be saved regardless of any action taken by the player. Until Dawn rewards and punishes these characters based on their performed masculinities, and perpetuates classic horror tropes that reflect traditional gender norms for its males..."
FULL LINK: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1oDiqELZnzz6zDTIaYbaeDYibMFTa-GNn_oUJib8aofM/edit?usp=sharing
in Game Discussion
I have some speculations relating to the prank.
One of these is the motivation of the involved persons. Jess makes it clear that she plotted the prank in order to humiliate Hannah and to stop her from hitting on Emily's (her bestie at the time) boyfriend. Emily most likely agreed to it to eliminate the competition for Mike's affection. Mike probably went along with it to please Emily, and possibly because he loved the attention Hannah was giving him, since he is after all "nobody's man" and a bit of a womaniser.
The other two involved characters, Matt and Ashley, don't seem to have a personal reason to prank Hannah. Their involvement has always felt a bit out-of-character to me since Matt is a very easy-going, loyal guy and Ashley is not a straight-out bitch. However I have a bit of a hunch as to why these two end up involved in the prank:
Matt - it's interesting to note how high his relationship with Jessica is, tying for the highest one he has. This indicates that they are at least close friends, or could even suggest that he had a bit of a crush on her. Whether seeing Jess as a good friend or something more, Matt could have taken part in her plan in order to impress her, since he is evidently a loyal guy both to his friends and his significant others.
Ashley - the only person in the group that she's particularly close with is Chris. He's the only one she truly fits in with, while with everyone else she's awkward. It's possible that she only went to the lodge in the first place to be with Chris, and to support his friendship with Josh. So after Chris got drunk with Josh, Ashley most likely felt very out-of-place and uncomfortable amongst all those acquaintances who were all pretty close with each other. Therefore she may have participated in the prank simply because of peer pressure, whether she was talked into it or she made an effort to fit in with the others without any encouragement from anyone else.
Some speculate that Chris took part in the prank by getting drunk with Josh in order to stop him from intervening in the prank. It seems unlikely that he would do this to his best friend, and also why would the group plan to keep Josh out of it but not Beth? Surely you'd plan to distract BOTH siblings instead of just one and forgetting about the other one, especially since Beth is more likely to stop the prank because she's arguably closer with her twin sister than Josh is. I think Chris was just trying to have a good time with his best mate and was not even aware of the prank.
These are all just my thoughts, they're not necessarily true but that's just how I interpret the whole incident. Any thoughts?
in Game Discussion
Um so... I've heard that if Matt fails the QTE with Jessica and she manages to hit him with the shovel their relationship will decrease. Is this true? Just wondering because she was pretty apologetic (since she didn't realise it was him until afterwards) and Matt didn't really seem offended by it.
Plus, I ship them. Just so much chemistry between them in the mines, and look at how high their relationship levels with each other are (equal with or SLIGHTLY lower than that which they share with their actual partners).
Personally, I think Matt could do better, Emily treats him like a slave and she's most likely just dating him as a rebound from being dumped by Mike. Yes, she can say that she's loyal to Matt at the end of the game, but that's only if Matt made all the "right" decisions, which involves acquiescing to her every demand unconditionally. One-sided much?
Plus, if she was truly loyal to Matt, why would she sneak off to be with Mike? There is no evidence to suggest that they were being particularly intimate or sexual together, but the fact remains that she deliberately lied to Matt about going to see Mike, which in itself suggests trust issues which are destructive in a relationship. Considering that she went to those lengths to deceive him and snuck around behind his back to see her ex, whether with amorous intention or not, I don't blame Matt for being pissed about it if he finds out. If I were in that situation I'd be damn suspicious too, and I'd be hurt that they didn't trust me enough to be honest about it. If there's nothing immoral going on, there should be nothing to hide or lie about. Unless of course Emily didn't trust Matt not to overreact about it if she was honest about wanting to catch up with Mike, in which case their relationship is built on weak premises and they shouldn't be together if they can't at least trust one another.
And Mike is not a long-term commitment type of guy. With Jess's latent insecurities she seems like the type who wants a guy who she can depend on to be here for her no matter what happens. Plus that infamous recycled line Mike uses on a reluctant Jess which he previously said to Hannah as part of the prank. Did I mention honesty is his lowest trait? Jess is most likely just a brief fancy which he will disregard once he becomes bored with her and finds someone fresh, much like he did with Emily.
Yes he did try and rescue her when the Wendigo caught her, but if she survived he doesn't bother to check whether she's still alive when the elevator falls. He just spends the rest of the game assuming she's dead without definitive proof that she is. You could argue that he didn't want to risk hurting himself by going down the infrastructure to get to her and confirm her status as dead or alive, but considering how much climbing and other strenuous/dangerous stunts he pulls off later in the game, there's no reason why he'd think it wasn't safe enough to investigate the fallen elevator, especially if she truly meant that much to him. Plus, if he was that concerned about personal safety, surely he could've found a connecting tunnel which lead to where the collapsed elevator was. Furthermore, most of their relationship is depicted on-screen as being sexual in nature, and even in the more tender moments the player can orchestrate this is after allusions to the possibility of sex (and don't forget Mike's dishonesty streak). Mike's just doing whatever it takes to get into her pants.
The thing I like about Matt and Jess is that there's a pure, mutual aura about them. They both show concern for each other when they reunite in the mines, Matt is protective and supportive of her (the degree of which is arguably influenced by the player's actions) and Jess becomes a lot less narky when alone with him (this may also be due to shock and a genuine survival need to cooperate with him), she becomes openly vulnerable and humble in personality. Their relationship is not built on superficial factors like sexual tension or rebounds from breakups, theirs is one of mutual trust and concern. A potential romantic relationship between them would have much deeper and stronger roots, as they are evidently already really close friends beforehand. The emotional connection between them as shown in the mine surpasses almost any other relationship shown in the game, and I personally think that they deserve one another.
in Game Discussion
Ashley seems to get a bad rap. As she's, admittedly, my favourite character, I'd like to refute a few common critcisms of her.
She's a shy, anxious girl, not a Buffy clone like Sam. Of course she's going to lose her composure at times.
She lets Chris die out of spite
As you well know, she only does this after he tries to shoot her to save his own skin, which is unforgivable.
I also think that a lot of people misread her in this scene. When Chris comes running to the door, she has a thousand-yard stare as she flashes back to Chris firing at her, suggesting that she has PTSD. She still sounds genuinely stunned when Mike asks her what happened.
Remember, the trophy is called "Ashley Snaps" (implying that she's psychologically broken), not "Ashley Takes Revenge".
She tries to make Mike kill Emily
Wrong. Ashley notices the bite and freaks out about the possibilty of Emily turning into a wendigo.
Now let's look at the other characters. Mike is the one to say "you gotta go", Chris backs him up, and Ashley only agrees with them. Mike then picks up the gun and shoots Em with no prompting from the others.
Ashley isn't exactly innocent in this situation, but she isn't the main wrongdoer.
tl;dr: Ashley is a realistically imperfect person, not the cold-hearted witch that many see in her. She's a sweet girl, but ill-equipped for stress.
in Game Discussion