20 Minutes Till Dawn is a new hit about survival

20 Minutes Till Dawn is a new hit about survival in the forest. review

played on personal computer

After the resounding success of Vampire Survivors, the appearance of their “clones” was a matter of time. A project called 20 Minutes Till Dawn appeared in Steam Early Access last year, and this summer its release version was released, which, judging by the many reviews on PC and mobile platforms, became a hit among fans of this entertainment. Although unlikely to achieve the same level of popularity and popularity as Vampire Survivors, the game is quite capable of captivating for several evenings.

It’s not quiet in the forest

Without further ado, we are offered to choose a character and his weapon. More precisely, at first there is no choice – only one girl is unlocked, and only an ordinary pistol is allowed to take her. Then we decide how long we want to survive – in one mode the race takes twenty minutes, in the other half as long. Well, then we find ourselves in a spooky gloomy forest where monsters are approaching from all sides. According to the developers, the local bestiary is inspired by the works of Lovecraft, but don’t expect outstanding monster designs.

    At the end of the race, what is happening on the screen usually looks like this

At the end of the race, what is happening on the screen usually looks like this

The task is simple: on a huge endless map you have to stay alive as long as possible. There are many monsters and each one leaves an experience point after its death. To get points you have to get very close to them, which is not always possible. That’s why you run in circles, try to eliminate entire groups of enemies at once and – most importantly – avoid trees. They are sometimes more dangerous than any monster here – at first I tried to hide behind them from hordes of enemies, but quickly realized that this only leads to unnecessary injuries.

New levels are awarded for experience points and thus passive bonuses. There are always five upgrades to choose from, which are fundamentally different from each other: with one you increase reloading speed, with the other you increase damage, with the third the character begins to move faster, and with the fourth it is better to dodge attacks. Such upgrades seem to be very useful, but next to them there are always other no less interesting “passives”. For example, every second shot is accompanied by a lightning strike on a random monster. Or spears will appear around the character, periodically flying towards enemies. Or a shooting assistant flies alongside the heroine – it’s hard not to draw a parallel to “The Binding of Isaac”.

    And the spears, the dragon, and the rest of the wizards choose their targets themselves

And the spears, the dragon, and the rest of the wizards choose their targets themselves

There are enough such bonuses that each race becomes unique, and if you choose one of the “passives”, they can provide an improvement next time. A scythe flying around the heroine begins to deal additional damage and curse enemies. After increasing a weapon’s damage, it is possible to fire two projectiles at once instead of one, and so on. Sometimes you have to decide whether to take something completely new – or whether it’s better to take an upgrade of an existing ability. For example, you can get an egg that will hatch into a fire-breathing dragon after three minutes. It offers many benefits, but if you’ve already spent more than five minutes in the woods, is it too late to mess with it?

In one pass you shoot very quickly and almost do not have time to reload. In another case, there will be a large number of special effects on the screen and enemies will start dying without your intervention. At the same time, it is not possible to say exactly which strategy is ideal. One of the best upgrades seems to be a scythe that flies around the heroine and discourages enemies from getting close to her. But if you can increase your running speed and outrun dangers, even without that ability, you can still effectively shoot down priority targets. In any case, there are no frankly useless improvements in the game – even a magnet that attracts experience points can make the passage easier, as it allows you to level up much faster.

    Pressing the spacebar lets you activate auto-aim, but it didn't seem like the most reliable way to defeat enemies

Pressing the spacebar lets you activate auto-aim, but it didn’t seem like the most reliable way to defeat enemies

squad of loners

These upgrades are pretty standard mechanics for games like this, but 20 Minutes Till Dawn has other tricks up its sleeve. The first consists of more than ten characters, which differ in health value and associated “passives”. For someone, every third shot detonates targets, someone can turn into a deer. One summons the souls of dead enemies, the other creates a black hole when reloading that sucks in monsters. This doesn’t change the gameplay much – you’re mainly looking at the number of “lives” and not at these bonuses, but you can’t call the skills completely useless either.

Another “chip” is the ability to choose weapons, and it is interesting that there is no connection to the protagonist here. Any character can wield any weapon, be it a pistol, flamethrower, crossbow, etc. And depending on the choice of weapons, the playstyle can vary significantly. With a shotgun you have to get close, otherwise the bullets will fly past the targets due to dispersion. A crossbow requires you to hold down the fire button to charge the arrows, but they will pierce multiple enemies at once. As you gain new levels in the forest, you can achieve the so-called “evolution”, which allows you to get a unique weapon upgrade. In the case of a crossbow, for example, this is a significant speedup of loading – you start shooting it like a regular pistol, only it hurts more.

    Although each character looks different in the menu, they all look pretty much the same in the forest.

Although each character looks different in the menu, they all look pretty much the same in the forest.

Over time, you’ll find that some “passives” that seem weak on one weapon type become very strong on another. Take a crossbow, for example – there is only one arrow in its “clip”. And there’s an upgrade that lets the heroine deal bonus damage to all nearby enemies when she fires the last projectile from the magazine. Perfect synergy! Or use the ability that gives the character a chance to set enemies on fire with one shot. Good results are obtained even with a regular pistol, but if such a bonus is combined with a flamethrower in hand, the monsters will burn even faster.

The points you collect in the races unlock new heroines and weapons – the longer you survive, the more of them you get. But that’s not the only way to spend them. In the menu there is a section with runes – these are passive skill trees that, unlike the accumulated improvements, never disappear and remain with each character forever. There are many valuable skills that don’t make the gameplay much easier, but they will definitely help you last longer in the forest. With a rune, you will knock enemies back with every reload, completely changing the approach to battles and allowing you to invest less in speed. On the other hand, the enemies killed will begin to drop “life”, however, for one point of health it is necessary to eliminate up to a thousand and a half opponents. You can’t take many runes with you, so choose the ones that best suit your playstyle.

    Only one out of three passives in each row can be active

Only one out of three passives in each row can be active

Despite the fact that there are many characters, weapons and runes, the content of 20 Minutes Till Dawn is still not enough. There are only three maps, and you don’t get access to the last two until you’ve perfectly completed the first one. There aren’t enough types of enemies – you fight the same ghosts for several minutes before they are replaced by other ghosts, just a little scarier. All races follow the same scenario: you always know what opponents will appear in the next few minutes, and the mini-bosses don’t change. And that applies to each of the three cards.

However, the game is still terribly addictive. Although surviving for twenty minutes gets a little tiring towards the end of the race, and everything is mixed up in a heap in the eyes (even the sight is sometimes difficult to see on the screen), after another death you want to buy Choose new ones items in the menu and try again. This formula has worked since the days of Alien Shooter – give the player a powerful weapon, make him stronger every minute, send hordes of enemies his way – and he’s guaranteed to “stick” to the monitor.

    I'm always happy to see this sign

This sign is always nice to look at.


Although 20 Minutes Till Dawn just left Early Access, the developer won’t stop releasing updates. Ahead of us are new characters, additional improvements, maps and much more. The gameplay itself is wonderful here, you just have to add content – I think that after a few months the game will change and deserve even greater praise. But even in its current form it’s good – while trying out all the weapons and all possible combinations, you won’t notice how several tens of hours pass during the game.


  • exciting gameplay;
  • various types of weapons;
  • many unique passive improvements that change gameplay;
  • The presence of pumping in the main menu somewhat simplifies the gameplay for those who are not good at playing such entertainment


  • not enough cards and enemy types;
  • Towards the end of the run, when there are hundreds of enemies on the screen, the character becomes difficult to follow and aim.


The simplest but recognizable style. The black, gray and white palette with the occasional splash of red looks pretty.


The music isn’t the most memorable, but in games like this you still spend time listening to something of your own.

single player game

Non-stop shooting at monsters with a variety of weapons – the game doesn’t try to be more than it really is.

Estimated travel time

A run takes 10 or 20 minutes, but it definitely won’t be possible to do it on the first try. And even if you “pass” the game once, you’ll keep coming back to it until you get bored.

collective game

Not provided.

general impression

A good action game in the spirit of Vampire Survivors, where one barrel differs from the other with unique weapons and a variety of upgrades. Too bad there isn’t enough content, but that can be fixed.

Score: 8.0/10

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About the author

Alan Foster

Alan Foster covers computers and games and all the news in the gaming industry.

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