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A step-by-step guide of how I would build a SaaS company right now - part 2
This is part 2 of 5. Part 1 LET'S DO THIS! Big thank you to everyone that upvoted and commented on the last post. I’m pumped, this is part 2 of 5 for those keeping track at home.
Start with your revenue and monetization plan (are you targeting a sector that has money and can/will pay - Part 1)
Align yourself with others in your space (cheapest way to get traction/credibility)
Work on road mapping your product to align with what complements your partnerships (cheapest distribution)
Work on building a marketing strategy that can help expose and align your brand while strengthening its recognition with your partners (will this make us both look good)
Build customer advocates along the way, tell their stories (lead with examples)
Early traction, everyone wants it, very few people know how to do it effectively. Hell I’ve seen it all, run all the experiments, all the tests and I can tell you from experience if you have the patience, slow, steady, and surgical is the way to grow. Especially in the beginning. In part one we spent a lot of time asking some basic fundamental business questions. Including, an exercise in the importance of being able to niche down. We’re going to expand on the niching down because it’s how you gain clarity and find people to align yourself with early on. The goal of this will be to understand:
How to niche down
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
How to position within that market
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
I’ve chosen to outline these in all our steps for niching down. You’re going to see these steps move from research to market evaluation to list building stopping just short of outreach. We’ll touch on this in part 3. Last week I took a call where someone told me their target market is males 25-45 that like sports. This is the most important part of your entire business. I’m serious. Let’s rock through this together so we can get you super focused and know where and how to spend your time and money. (The below was laid out in part 1 and was the layered niching exercise) LEVEL 1: We’re a helpdesk product. How to niche down The big question is “for who”? So you’ve picked the type of product you are building and a use case, the problem is there are lots of people like you out there and this doesn’t tell me much about your market, it’s too broad. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity Because this is so broad, it’s impossible to actually target a market and without being able to do that, it’s not possible to recognize opportunities, there’s just too many of them. How to position within that market Competition is good and bad, but it’s always better to be a big fish in a little pond, the best way to reduce the size of your pond is to niche down as much as possible while still understanding a large enough TAM (total addressable market). How to give yourself the biggest chance of success No wasted effort. Every idea, concept, must have a small goal attached to it. It’s too expensive to try to be everything for everyone and when you take this approach you end up failing at doing any one thing well enough for people to switch. Let’s build on this. LEVEL 2: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies. How to niche down Pick an industry or trend that is on the rise - look towards a shift or something that relates to changes people are making in their daily routine. In this case we picked eCommerce because it’s on track to hit over $7 Trillion worldwide this year and has steadily been increasing across all brands. So we have an industry with a large enough economic driver to let us start niching down. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity We now buy things online that we never would have thought to do so even just a few years ago. Amazon is selling Tiny Homes now, seriously, if you can buy it, odds are you can do it online. There are massive opportunities to bring goods and services to people through convenient online shopping. And with that increase they will all need a help desk platform to provide the best experience for their customers. Customers today don’t want to speak with people, they want answers quickly and easily. It’s all about reducing friction. How to position within that market Narrow down within the market. eCommerce is a good starting point, there are different industries, subsets, and categories. Go narrower. Start thinking about where the friction exists in the industry and for what subsets. How to give yourself the biggest chance of success In the beginning, it’s going to be an uphill battle, picking the right trending industry will give you the best chance of success. Something that is rising up to the right in popularity is way easier to sell into than a trend that is declining. Know your competitive landscape. Everyone has a competitor, whether direct, partial, or mildly related. Spend a lot of time on understanding this and knowing that your product is part of a very large landscape or landscape of potential competitors. Any one of the existing partial or mildly related competitors may be building something to more directly compete with you down the road. Practical advice Most companies stop here and hope for the best. Unfortunately, this isn’t a go to market plan or a sustainable business model. There’s an important bit worth mentioning here as it will become a theme of this entire post. Great products enhance workflows through features, the focus isn’t on the product but what the product enables people to do. Success in the software business is all about understanding existing workflows and simplifying the experience. As you do this exercise to niche down ask yourself: What does the current workflow look like? What are they currently using? How are they currently using it? Where are the gaps? What are the best practices for creating workflows? Always seek to understand how your product works in a workflow - what role it plays, how it best optimizes - this is the data play referred to in Part 1. What are the things that matter most to people in the eCommerce space? That’s a lot of questions with even more answers, when you peel everything back it becomes very clear that it’s not possible to answer all of them without going deeper. Too many people to talk to, too many industries, too much everything. Let’s take a different approach - how I got to Shopify in the next niche down. No successful new SaaS company today launches without an integration. So let’s find an eCommerce platform to integrate with. We have to look for a stable player that has an app store and is a market leader. As a starting point, my goal is to be a help desk for ecommerce companies.
I need a list of all eCommerce platforms
I need to understand which help desks they already integrate with
I need to understand what people like and don’t like about them
I need to find out which platform is going to be the best fit for my product
There are lots of sources for this and even more articles, google and read. If you’re looking for numbers though and data, use BuiltWith and run a search on the platforms after you have your list to figure out which is the most popular. Ok so we have our list of eCommerce platforms, we’ve analyzed the data, made sure they tick all the boxes and we’ve run our reports and found that Shopify powers 1.2 million stores. Let’s lock it in as our next step in niching down. LEVEL 3: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify. How to niche down It’s more than just market size. Going with a market leader is always a safe bet but it also provides the most competition. Sometimes going with a smaller platform that doesn’t get all the attention is a worthwhile research project. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity There are two sides of the opportunity and this is something that I didn’t touch on in the original niching down. Shopify and BuiltWith categorize the types of stores that are on the platform, so you can niche down to a certain type of store, for example just cosmetics or just apparel. The other side of the opportunity is putting together your list of companies currently operating in the ecosystem. How to position within that market Smart people are really good at collecting data and interpreting it. Let’s get some data.
Go to the shopify app store
Type in “Support”
Click paid on the left margin and click the “Support Category”
Use something like Simple Scraper ( a great chrome plugin, no affiliation)
Get your scrape on, this shows 87
Time to get busy - categorize them
Pick the ones most similar to your offerings
Click on them, look at their reviews - all of them on shopify Scrape them
Go to G2 and Capterra and look through all those reviews as well
Put them all in a spreadsheet, read them all, highlight those that stand out
Find the ones that are popular, others that have features people like etc.
Document, and integrate the baseline features into a trello board on your product roadmap
Take all the bad reviews and complaints - look for gaps that you can fill
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success So take a look above, we went from a bunch of questions to being able to do a ton of market research to do product research and understand the current market offerings and where we might be able to gain some ground and offer something people might be interested in and ARE PAYING FOR. How do you stand out? You need to have a workflow that is 10x better than a current competitor in the market with a strong roadmap that lays out how you intend on optimizing this workflow. Features are built to augment the workflow and simplify the work of your clients employees, less work, more data, better understanding. Ok so we’ve narrowed it down to eCommerce and Shopify and we have a list of other products that are currently playing in the space. We’re now looking at workflow - let’s figure this bit out. LEVEL 4: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation. How to niche down Add another variable - it doesn’t have to be Shipstation, but it’s a good example as for eCommerce you’re likely shipping products places. By adding another variable, we’re shrinking our population to target. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity The biggest problem for all companies these days is combining different one off services and getting them to play nicely together. Stand alone products usually outclass all in one products as stated above because the focus is better. This is generally always going to be where you can find a gap in the market as the integrating of products is an afterthought rather than something contemplated in the very beginning. How do you decide on the technologies you want to work with? How to position within that market Don’t guess. Understand the workflow of an eCommerce company and how it relates to support. For instance, most support tickets relate to order status, tracking, and returns. These all involve the store, transaction, the service desk, and the shipping carrier. Look for ways to streamline the experience for the service rep - for instance if refunds require approval, build a system that allows for all those tickets to be queued up with an easy interface for approvals or different color tagging to allow for them to be easily sorted by type. By focusing on two technologies you can start by creating a better visual collaboration between tools to improve overall experience. How to give yourself the biggest chance of success Stack the deck in your favor. Focus on where you can drive early alignment between your product offering and the audiences of your now two products. When you reach out to both companies especially the smaller ones like a Shipstation, you can collect more information about who they are catering to, volumes etc. Most companies have a partner program - look into connecting with the lead. When the time is right you might even get a shoutout on their social or blog or you can decide to co-publish some research report together. Lots of options. Let’s double down on what being niche allows us to do:
Know our audience
Research with purpose
Personalize outreach with early feelers
Better understand a realistic TAM (total addressable market)
Understand overlap between products
Early alignment with bigger names
This whole topic is about alignment, alignment with partners, customers, and your product. We have a list of potential customers now, but we need to segment them down further. LEVEL 5: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus. How to niche down Why less than 100 skus? This means they are small enough to try a new product. It also means you can see what works and what doesn’t work on a potentially smaller store. When you’re managing a store with more than 100 skus, things get a little complicated, it’s an arbitrary number but changing internal processes and workflows when you get to that level means that your staff is coming from a place of having used a system before that could handle the volume and trying out something newer or unproven is a tall order. This process can be applied to anything, if your product does better project management look for people that run less than 20 projects at a time or projects that are less than 6 months, whatever it may be. We’re starting small. Always default to the path of least resistance. Work smarter, not harder. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity I’m sure this could be automated, but in lieu of it being automated, you should start by manually figuring this out for yourself. That list you have from BuiltWith that has urls, yeah we’re going to use that one. Put the websites in the spreadsheet you downloaded, then create a new column and add “products” to the url - so you have the website in cell A, the word “products” in cell B then in blank cell C write “=CONCATENATE(A:B)” congratulations now you have cell C that will take you straight to the product page to see how many skus they have. Update this hack doesn’t work on all shopify websites like I had hoped and after some research it seems like this is a bit of a struggle point for others as well. I’m sure someone could write a script to scrape this information. Go find an intern or hire someone to do all the lookups for you or find someone to write a script to automate the results - remember always work smart. Run this and you’ll come up with your go to target list. How to position within that market The best helpdesk for stores on Shopify using shipstation with less than 100 skus - all of a sudden this starts to sound like something someone would almost search for. That’s the point. We’re working our way down where it becomes a simple checklist if someone was searching for things. Shopify - check Shipstation - check Built for smaller stores - check How to give yourself the biggest chance of success Remember you’re not building a product for everyone yet, your goal is to dominate a niche. You can always expand from there. So we’re about half way through and we have figured out our potential partners and now we’re working on narrowing down this customer list. Before we dive in and start reaching out we need to really understand who we’re targeting and we need to start small. Let’s narrow this down even further. LEVEL 6: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue. How to niche down Why the less than $10 million in annual revenue? The only reason I would say this in the beginning is that they won’t have as much traffic and ticket volume, they make for better early clients, you can learn a lot more from their use cases and improve the product without worrying about something going wrong and a larger client really getting mad and churning. You also usually have greater access to work with their staff to improve your product. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity Unless you’re currently on the front lines, you need to find some early providers of feedback that are on the front lines. In essence, this is the starting point of a community and information play. There aren’t a lot of data points available about companies in the early stages. People always have questions and there are limited resources in the early days, even across similar companies. (Just look at reddit there are tons of repeat answers and questions.) Someone answering tickets all day is the last person that wants to provide feedback, as much as they would like their job made easier, they don’t have the time. How to position within that market “But I need a big logo to let people know that I’m real.” You don’t, not in the beginning. All you need is a few good customers that are open to lending you the feedback you need to get better. A lot of smaller brands do a good job of branding, play the long game, find brands that are growing and try to get in early - grow with them. Logo hunting has its place but you need to find product market fit before you can really make that happen. By now you have probably figured out that whenever possible you should automate things. The way you do this is through data collection. Using logic, math, and a spreadsheet you can do enough to be dangerous. Use a service to figure out what their unique traffic is, take a look at their products and assume that their cart value is around 2-4 products per order then take the conversion rates by industry - you can find these online they are openly listed. Your sheet will look something like this: Company, Traffic, Conversion Percentage, Order Value, Sales Percentage, Revenue eCommerce blended average is 2.2% - go use a spreadsheet and some formulas and bam you now have the revenue numbers. We’re not looking for exacts here, but more generally a good estimate. I’ve actually run these numbers, if the products are sold through other channels, Amazon, retail, etc, then a rough estimate would be around ~33% of the revenue will come from the ecommerce store. Factor in a range based on the size of the brand and it’s channels this should give you a rough estimate of the revenue even if they don’t publish it. How to give yourself the biggest chance of success Provide value - the most overhyped phrase but still true - the question then becomes, with something as subjective as “value” rather than just create, instead ask and create. This part is coming up, we’re almost ready to turn this on. We’ve started to move from who are partners are to who are our potential customers. This is on purpose - my stance is that your first customers are really your partners and you should work on aligning yourself with those that are the best fit for your product. You want your first clients to buy into your vision and invest the time to help shape it. Ok on to the next - LEVEL 7: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people. How to niche down So now we’re getting into the easier stuff - this is just a simple LinkedIn Search - small teams are usually before the real deep process point, they are also really good at providing feedback on tools that can actually help them out. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity If you have less than 5 people on a team, it’s a small enough number to target the entire team - multi prong approach to product awareness. For customer support they are often the least paid and they have the most stressful jobs - it’s an all around shitty position to be in, so if you can provide them joy, you’re going to make fans quick. Also, they aren’t usually sold into, they are rarely asked their opinion, etc. How to position within that market Give them a voice. The same goes for any lower level positions as well by the way. When people are getting started in their careers they are looking to hear about the jobs people have even at the lower levels but the resources just aren’t there. Even for more senior roles, it’s hard to get a beat on what the current status is of their projects, people don’t like sharing - I still don’t know why. We’re seeing communities around Sales popup SalesHacker, sales, Bravado etc. We don’t see as many for other roles, there is a wide open space in this. I don’t see any places for people to better understand customer support/success which is THE ONLY INBOUND TOUCHPOINT WITH CUSTOMERS POST SALE. How to give yourself the biggest chance of success This is part of the philosophy and psychology of understanding human dynamics. Find a persona that you can relate to immediately and build your product around fixing their problems, be obsessed with this. They get paid nothing, but they’d like less tickets, how do you reduce that ticket count, how do you bring other parts of the business that they may need to have access to more prominently in your support system so they don’t have to have multiple windows open. How do you build something to maximize their efficiency? Better yet, how do you tag someone in the CRM and flag it over to the sales system to see if they purchase more product as a result of a good interaction with support - this is how you turn a cost center into a revenue generator. This is a killer feature that I’m not aware of out of the box. This could unlock a commission structure and reward system for what is arguably becoming a dealbreaker for most companies. Which is a great segway to the next drill down - you should be starting to see how this all really blends together if done correctly. LEVEL 8: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who arelooking to automate their processes. How to niche down They have to be looking to automate their process or improve their workflow. When people find a tech stack that works, oftentimes new technology doesn’t stick around very long, we’re all creatures of habit. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity You’re only looking for people that are talking about processes or a company that has something related to the pride they take with their process - you can check out BuiltWith and see a list of products they have tried over the last 18 months. When a company is testing a bunch of different products it means they are looking for a better process. This is your sweet spot. How to position within that market You’ve seen me sprinkle “workflow” into this post. This is pretty much a preview of Part 3 and the importance of product design. Your product must improve someone’s existing workflow. If it doesn’t it’s not a viable product. There are two parts to this, does your product improve an existing workflow AND how easy can your product be inserted into that workflow? Remember, this is their business and they need to make a transition as smoothly as possible with as little disruption as possible. This goes for any product you’re selling. Change is hard. Understanding a company’s process really is everything. If people aren’t looking to automate or improve their process, there’s a good chance you should change your approach immediately and work towards more of an education campaign and double down on what it would take to let people quickly switch over from an existing platform. Focus on reducing friction. How to give yourself the biggest chance of success Looking for people that are interested, not those we need to educate early on. Data migration and implementation is one of the main reasons people don’t want to switch or entertain new products. There is always a fear of lost productivity. Everyone is looking to automate right now, but the price has to be right, and that includes not the subscription amount, but the training, the migration, the new workflows, the time to adopt, the willingness to adopt, etc. During almost any transition, the company will be paying for two systems at the same time during that handoff. This is rough, not enough companies actually address this in a meaningful way. The argument is that a pure SaaS play doesn’t exist or shouldn’t exist for an early stage company, there should always be a service and consulting component. Hold everyone’s hand, understand their problems and make them feel like you’re building a product just for them. Ok we’re almost there - LEVEL 9: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who are looking to automate their processes who are currently using Zendesk. How to niche down Let’s spearfish. Zendesk - great platform - but has its limits that only show up based on workflows. Zendesk will work great until you have a workflow that incorporates other tools - then it starts to struggle. This is true of most large legacy platforms. As legacy platforms moved up market to Enterprise for revenue reasons, they usually forget about smaller teams. Instead relying on dev house partners to do customizations. This is where industry experience really comes into play - knowing the goals of a company or team, their workflows, and where you can create a better solution for those with those workflows for things that the legacy platforms prefer to source out to their dev house partners. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity Your calls can now go from generic to focused with questions that can hone in on workflows and gaps. For example, Zendesk’s UX/UI sucks for partner integrations, we’ve seen companies like Kustomer, Gorgias, and others become more popular because of a better UX/UI that supports the whole customer experience and journey. This is a fundamental switch in approach. From one of our earlier research steps we found 87 companies that people were using for support with shopify, we have them in a spreadsheet, we then could take those and put all the competitors in builtwith to run some reports to understand market penetration (you can do this with number of reviews as well by the way if you’re lazy - don’t be lazy). Download your list - populate your CRM - you now know what people are using, how long they’ve been using them. Narrow down your list to the top 20 clients - yes only 20. Even if you have 100 clients or a thousand clients at this point, this process works for every single Sales rep you have - and I’m going on a 95% chance none of them are doing this stuff. And if you tell me they are, I know from the amount of generic ass emails I get regularly spewed out to me they aren’t doing it well and I guarantee you money is being left on the table. (Topic for another day) How to position within that market You know what software they are using, you know their tech stack, your goal is to figure out their workflow. If you don’t know, ask. You should understand the general business workflows for the industry - again industry knowledge is required. Engage them with conversation and find out. Base your questions on conversations you’ve had with other people in the space and be a source of information about how other people are doing it. The above is completely able to be put into a human measurable process, one based on quality over quantity, relationships over transactions, and geared towards long term growth. Be about the things that other platforms are not. Focus on changing the narrative from cost center to revenue generator. The helpdesk for Shopify and Shipstation customers looking to streamline their processes and free up their support teams to become revenue generators in an organic and measurable fashion. How to give yourself the biggest chance of success It’s all about workflows, data, and automation. Niche down, learn from the inside out, follow the trends and work on being able to tie back data to creating more revenue no matter what your product does and you’ll be able to start conversations with people actively looking to create more optimized workflows. Focusing on a legacy product and small businesses usually allows you to find a sweet spot, they don’t find value in all the features because they won’t use them all. But they do want the more advanced features like automation and workflow help. These are usually cost prohibitive in the platform. This is why you focus on workflow over features, you’ll never catch up with the big guys in terms of features, but there are always ways to compete on workflows, because everyone has their own independent goals around them. There aren’t standards, only best practices. Side note - there are entire companies that are hired to implement systems like Zendesk and build integrations on top of it and it’s a market leader. The same goes for any market leader. LEVEL 10ish: You can add location to the end of our narrowing down. A company physically local to you (at least this was the case prior to COVID-19) can allow for an in person visit which has been massive in building trust with early clients. Makes it easier to have a conversation as well. That’s it. Go through this process, substitute your values, keep drilling down and recognize opportunity along the way. When you do it correctly you’ll see massive improvements for your initial outreach. Emails go from: We’re a new helpdesk company. To: We’re a new helpdesk company for customers that use Shopify and Shipstation. We help agile support teams that are looking to better automate their workflows. Our integrations also allows your support team’s interactions to be directly tied into future revenue generation. ___________ I can tell you from experience I’m visiting the url for the second email even if I’m not looking to make a change. This is a good place to stop, we hit question 2 of 5 and we’re almost at the halfway point. If you have more specific questions about this part just drop them in the comments and I'll respond to them.
Jon-Chan and the Summit of Mount Dewnali: Face-off with the Ferocious Facebook Fiends
Hey Moonhorse, Sango, and Moonherd. Its ya boy ZeroCharismaBard back at it again with the continued Saga . I've been meaning to write and upload these stories in rapid succession, but my life kind of started to continue being busy again and it may finally yield some desired results. Thus, I will try harder to upload more of these weird tales and provide everyone with an enjoyable experience before I depart for military service(....any day now) Now strap in my fellow Gentlesirs and M'ladies, because Jon-Chan and his expedition face off with the Ferocious Facebook Fiends! The Majestic gates of Basementia shut with a loud thump, the following silence and howling winds punctuated the now encased refuge. There was a daunting, heavy presence that cast itself upon the party, everyone's legs twitched and shook, but none were able or willing to move further. Joey and the Child-Soldier stood behind Jonathan's massive frame, taking in the view of the harsh and wintery mountainside. Well, as much as they can with Jonathan's in their way. Staring off into the distance, Jonathan digs into his backpack and fetched a white trimmed, black trilby and dons his headpiece fit for a gentleman of his stature. "Uh, what the hell is that?" Joey queried? "Is that...is that a fucking trilby". "Gosh, no its a Fedora, fit for astute gentlemen such as Frank Sinatra and myself." Jonathan responded pridefully, adjusting the trilby. "Uh, no thats not a Fedora, that a sodding trilby." Joey informed "Trilbies have that bowl shaped that your hat does and very short brims and all that-" "Is this seriously the first conversation we are to have before we go off finding MOM?" the soldier interrupted "Oh oh, when we encounter Chad and his horde, shall we bore them to death with our knowledge of fucking hats!". "Okay we get it-uh...we never really got your name haven't we?" asked Joey. "His name is MilfHunter69" scolded Jonathan "Though I doubt such a silly name is a real one" The young-warrior slowly shook his head disapproving of Jonathans barbs and was about to correct him before being interrupted by Jon-Chan. "So, where was MOM again? I was too entranced by the wonderful M'lady within the council chambers." "Ah, excellent question" exclaimed Joey as he begins to dig through his scroll pack. Joey pulls a large, withered and rolled-up map from his open scroll pack and carefully unfurls it, gesturing for Jon-Chan to hold the right side, which Jon ignores initially, only to eventually yield to Joey's angry scowl". "So, we are here at the Gates of Basementia and Dewtonia is right here" He says after moving his finger in a straight line from their standing location to their goal. "So, by reading the map and its scale, I guesstimate that the journey to Dewtonia and Dewnali will be over a thousand miles long, so....I'm guessing two months of travel?" Both Jonathan and the child-soldiers eyes go wide. "Ah geez, thats sure a long way" says Jonathan. "Yeah, Jon-Chans right, most of us haven't even walked more than two or three miles a day. " mentioned the soldier "and you think that we can travel a thousand miles in two months?" "Perhaps, but we should have roughly a whole year's time before Basementia runs out of tendies." Joey assured "We definitely have some wiggle room in case we come across a snag or two." Satisfied with his answer, Joey put the scroll back into its original pouch and triumphantly stuck his hands into his cargo short pockets. "Besides, we have a lot of landmarks and sights to see along the way! We might even visit the lost cities of Dewtonia and Shapirograd along the way and recover our past!" "If they haven't been looted" said the Soldier Joey's face morphed into an expression of worry "Let's hope the rumors of their demise, was exaggerated" He uttered, trembling at the thought of nothing being left of their homelands. "OK, we know where to go and how to get there" muttered an eager Jonathan"Well, Lets get this over with". The young warrior then spits on the ground "For once I agree with the CWC-born, lets go!". Jonathan motions for his warriors to follow and instantaneously they awkwardly shuffle behind him, their bags and katana's in tow. In their first day of travel, the neckbeardian expedition marched vigorously in a tight formation, struggling to descend down Basementia's slippery slopes and treacherous mountainside. "Out of all the places one could have use for a shitload of stairs or even some kind of elevator, not one person not even MOM thought to put some outside. What a bitch" thought Jonathan. "When we finally get to her and bring her home, the first thing I'll make m'lady do is install an escalator. Should have done her job right the first time". Dusk settled as the party completed their descent from Basementia's mountainside and into the forest below. The Expeditionary force was more worn out than a wookies shaving razor. Several dozen members of the force just threw their kit into a pile, Jonathan along with them. The few who were in shape, such as the Joey and child soldier, were either busy righting into a scroll detailing their nine hour trek down a one mile mountain or were maintaining a vigilant perimeter around the 'camp' respectively. "One down....One thousand and thirteen miles to go" exclaimed Joey, as he stretched his arms and finally set his gear down. "It is wise that we only rest for five minutes, standing up or kneeling on the ground if we have to. After all, we can't get too comfortable." Jonathan was more exasperated than a neckbeard not having his dick pic responded to by his M'lady. "Ah what the hell Joey, we can rest longer than that, can't we!? Its the middle of the night!" Joey looked up from arranging his backpack and said "Jon-Chan, we just got started, we have quite a bit of daylight before we should set up camp. I bet you and everyone here can keep moving for a little while". An epiphany flashed through Jonathons mind, giving him further ammo to escalate the discussion into an argument. He then starts to produce weight, but fake laughter. "Um excuse me Joey, who made you in charge of this mission? Did everyone forget that all of a sudden that I am CWC-born or what?" In a calm and rational manner, Joey replied saying "Um, excuse me Jon-Chan, did everyone forget that I am a member of the Dewrito Council, hmm? Needless to say that someone with my experience and leadership capabilities should be in charge of directing our forces and managing our supplies." Jonathan wore a look of fury and stared Joey down. "What, did everyone forget all of a sudden that I am a Council member or what?" Joey said, revealing a sly smirk. The once worn warriors, rest with their backs against one another, have noticed their two senior members engaging in a heated battle of the egos. Some members looked with horror, hoping actual combat wouldn't play out whilst others grabbed snackies from their rucksacks and bags. The child soldier, coming back from a hasty patrol, groaned audibly at the two grown manchildren having a co-op pissy fit. "Jeez, I'm 16 and I'm acting more mature than you two. I bet MOM left cause she knew you tools would be having a beta as fuck dick measuring contest. " The two man-children, have turned towards their new opponent and hurled a barrage of insults toward their adolescent comrade. "You stupid cuck!" "Shortstop looking ass!" "Beta-Male Bitch!" The teen trooper was looking visibly upset until he heard a snapping of twigs, causing him to look around frantically while Jonathan and Joey continued their verbal assault. "Did ya'll just hear that? asked the frantic soldier. "Oh typical child-like excuse or did this lil baby finally learn his place and will shut up when adults are speaking" Jonathan shouted, screaming at the kid like a mad floridaman high off crack cocaine and alligator piss. The crackling of branches and the rustling of the surrounding tree tops was heard around the glade housing the Neckbeardians watching the argument unfold. The warriors drew their weapon's and gathered into smaller, tight diamond formations. It was only then, that Joey and Jon-Chan noticed the commotion. Both of the man-children, were unequipped for what would come next. Thus, they hastily prepared by grabbing the nearest, yet weakest branches they could find. A multitude of violent screeches can be heard beyond the glade and into the forest tree tops, yet the figures creating such noise were cloaked under the cover of the dusk skies. Several of the neckbeardians pulled out orange flare guns and shot their ordnance into the night. At an elevation of 150 feet, the rounds exploded into a hot white light floating via parachute, revealing the sharp edges and craven appearance of winged, haggard femoids. "Ready yourselves! Harpies approach from the night!" Shouted a legbeard wielding a might greataxe. Joey's perceptive eyes were busy investigating the new threat, when he suddenly noticed a feature on them that made the threat much more dire. "Those aren't harpies, these are much worse" The rapacious and wicked Karens swooped below in an attempt to crash into the Neckbeardian defenses. Their arrogant bobcut hairstyles were unwavering in their descent, as they screamed their battle cries of "I will report and bring you to the manager!" or "I'm gonna leave a bad yelp review when I'm through with you!" Despite the Neckbeardians being unfamiliar with this ancient threat, they still held their ground. Even if holding their ground means rattling their weapons in the air as they panic. Joey makes a swing at a Karen diving into him, only for the Karen to deftly dodge his attack, counterattacking with her manicured talons and connecting with his chain mail. While the attack was ineffective, it had startled the battle virgin joey as he retreated behind Jonathon, who was giving him a curious and satisfied smile. "I thought you were our leader, shouldn't you be out there fighting with your men?" he said with his trademark shit-eating grin. Joey shook off his fright and irritably replied with "Just keep those THINGS away from me!" Jonathan swung his stick at a Karen visible in the flares light, only to discover that his weak stick broke into piece upon hitting the fleeting Karen. "Shit, this bitch is so thick, she broke my stick". Upon hearing this the Karen flew back towards the duo with frightening speed, unleashing a maddening war screech as she flew towards them whilst a few feet above the ground. As soon as she was near the duet of men-children, there was a burst of speed and ripple of energy had flash near Jonathan and Joey. The two had covered their eyes awaiting the coming swift vengeance, only to hear and audible thump, open their eye simultaneously to find the child-soldier with his katana on his shoulder and a dead Karen beneath their feet. "Nothing personnel, kid..." quoted the young warrior. Joey was astounded by the childs actions and his eye lit up like a christmas tree "Dayum son, where did you learn that!" he exclaimed. Jonathan had a look of bewilderment, only to quickly suppress his fascination. "Eh whatever, he got lucky" he said dryly "I bet anyone can do that". The child snorted and went off to engage the enemy and assist his beards-at-arms. Jonathan looked at the corpse of the blonde-haired Karen. This creature sure didn't have an upper hand when engaging them at ground level. In that exact moment, a light bulb dimmed in his head at a newfound genius. Just as his ancestors did when they solved the dilemma of playing vidya games while pissing with the concept of the piss jar. Jonathan Easton Chandler sparked an idea that might save his life and the life of his comrades. "Aye, bitch witches" He shouted towards the dusk sky "Its dark, why are half of you wearing sunglasses. Too afraid to be seen with that mad crows feet!". Out of the six Karens attacking the Neckbeardians from above, three of them broke their attack to assault the source of the vicious mockery. Jonathan ran in between the formation of fighting, some of whom had turned their attention to him and the trio of Karens flying low towards the ground. The Legbeard with the great-axe stepped away from her formation to swing her great-axe in wide arc, the centrifugal force and sharp, heavy blade cleaved three of Karens into bloody chunks, silencing their outrage. The rest of the neckbeards followed suit, taunting the Karens into a confrontation, which their predictable, entitled egos would fall for the provocation. The child soldier and a fellow Neckbeardian armed with a spear furiously stabbed and sliced two of the approaching Karens into bloody ribbons. One Karen, who finally got the brains to realized the trap, attacked the spear-beard from above and using her mighty talons, plucked him from the earth, dropping his spear. Spear-beard was wailing in fear as the Karen said "Oh don't cry, you'll become too soft a meal for my healthy, unvaccinated angels" which further caused more terror within Spear-beard. Joey picked up the spear and jabbed at the air shouting "Let him go foul wench!" The Karen cackled at his display of bravado and replied with "Okay, I'll let him go" only to drop him from fifty plus feet in the air "Now bring me to your manager!" she hissed. Joey grew more indignant and stared ferociously at her "I...Am...The Manager" Joey then took aim and hurled the spear with the strength of Ricardo Milos. The Karen was impaled and lost all capability of flight, plummeting to the earth from whence it came from. As the Karen uttered her last breath, the last of the flares died out, leaving the glade encased in darkness. Within seconds, several glow sticks and flashlights flushed away the immediate darkness, to reveal a relatively unharmed spear-beard who had fallen atop of the child soldier. A sincere apology could heard from the absolute unit as he launched himself off of the child. While battered and having sustained minor injuries, the Neckbeardians haven't taken any casualties in their encounter. Those who weren't tending to their wounds or the wounds of their comrades, were busy assembling tents, clearing the Karen corpses, and maintaining watch all without command from Jonathan or Joey. "I guess the real leader was a warm bed and a warm fire this whole time" the child-soldier said cheerfully as he walked by the battle-fatigued bros. Jonathan immediately regained strength upon hearing the childs vexing voice, but was interrupted by Joeys tired reply. "Yeah, I'll follow a bed into battle any day or at least into a dark, snug corner to sleep". Joey sits on the ground and pulls out a rough, leather bound tome and flipped to its blank first page and quickly jotted down several sentences. "But first I ought to write down the details of the day, quite an exciting start for our journey don't you agree?". The Jonathan and the teen trooper looked at one another, recounting each others feats during the fight. "Yeah, good thinking goading those ghouls into our blades CWC-Born, not bad" complimented the soldier. "Yeah, you were okay yourself Milfhunter69" Jon-Chan muttered. "Hey wait?" Jon-Chan realized aloud "Whats your real name again?" The child-soldier looked up at Jonathon and said "Just call me Hunter for now". Hunter then proceeds to walk towards his rucksack and unfurl his sleeping bag. Joey had been too engulfed into recording his annals to notice their short conversation. However, he did notice Hunter unpack his sleeping equipment. "Well" He said stretching his arms outwards. "We have a big day ahead of us tommorrow, a whole shit load of walking. Get some rest Jon-Chan, you earned it...I think we all did." He then proceeded to prop up his backpack against a tree, lying his head onto it and fell into a deep slumber. The other neckbeardian soldiers had already organized their own watch schedules, with Spear-beard and Axe-beard taking the first watch at the fire. Jonathan found himself cursing, as he realized the only thing that he brought for bedding was his bodypillow. Not wanting to dirty her, he lied in the dew tipped grass, with her above his fat stomach. While, his neck started to ache with the lack of pillow and other gadgets of civilizations, his fatigue forced him to power through the pain and quickly fall into a deep sleep.
Until Dawn is a damn near perfect game, which just breathes horror on every level. The game puts you in control of a group of teens and terrifies you while doing so. This is a must have if you own a PlayStation 4.
Until Dawn is everything that Quantic Dream games have tried to be – unsuccessfully – for the past decade. It emulates horror movies while demonstrating a clear understanding of what makes those movies work, its focus on consequence is nervewracking and intricate, and its story is silly but strongly delivered. It’s the best David Cage game not made by David Cage, and it’s the best interactive horror flick you’ll play.
Until Dawn is a game that on the outside looks like a generic horror game based on simple A or B choices and cheap scares, but it’s much more than that and I’m betting if you take a chance with Until Dawn you’ll be just as surprised as I was with the quality of the game. The narrative is gripping, the graphics gorgeous and the weight of your choices will always be present while playing the game. Until Dawn is the next step forward in the genre of cinematic choice based storytelling.
While Until Dawn lacks complex gameplay, it counters with compelling characters, astounding visuals, and a thought provoking storyline. A masterful fusion of art forms, Until Dawn is a refreshingly self-aware experience that no thriller fan should pass up.
The title is rated mature, and it has some of the typical tropes of Hollywood slasher films, like excessive gore, horrifying scenes, foul language, and suggestive sexual innuendo and scenes. But if you can get past that stereotype and your usual reaction to Hollywood horror, you’ll find that Until Dawn is one of the most original and polished games in the interactive horror genre. The game really lives up to its promise and vision, and that’s a rarity in an age of hype.
Thanks to some good twists, a few fake-outs, and limitless jump scares, Until Dawn would make a solid horror film. As a piece of interactive fiction, however, it's a remarkable experience that horror fans shouldn't miss.
The tedious beginning and unskippable reviews of previous chapters are annoying, even if they do have a purpose. Some of the scenes do seem unnecessary, and only show a few new things about the setting and characters. It’s not bad exactly, but could have benefitted from a little bit of re-thinking. Once you’ve finished the game, however, you can play single episodes to change the choices you made. So you don’t need to play through the first few episodes again if you don’t want to, and honestly, by the time you’re finished you won’t even remember the beginning being slow. With choices that have real consequences, Until Dawn is definitely a game to pick up. Especially since you can look back at what your choices did and try for a different outcome the next time you play.
Until Dawn is a fun ride, and one I was sad to see end. There’s really no other experience like it out there, merging narrative adventure with horror charm and a brilliant photorealistic aesthetic. The story begs for the player to comb back over, both to find every shred of info and to find a way to save everyone by dawn. Short documentaries are included as well, a personal favorite of mine for unlockable features, which let you delve into the making of the game through every stage of development. While it isn’t perfect, it serves to be something fresh, interesting, and memorable, certain to be fun whether you’re enjoying it with friends or sitting home alone, with the blinds shut and headphones on, pale-white knuckles wrapped on your controller, just hoping that the next corner won’t spell doom for your favorite character.
Until Dawn is an incredible game for horror fans, and I have nothing negative to say about it. Supermassive Games didn’t disappoint. Until Dawn captured the slasher flick perfectly: typical story, typical teens. Jason, Ghostface, and the fishhook killer from I Know What You Did Last Summer would be proud. However, I cannot stress enough; people not into the horror genre probably won’t enjoy Until Dawn nearly as much. If horror tropes or jump scares are not your thing, be warned before you venture in to Until Dawn. But for those of you itching for a good horror game (even if you’re not into adventure games), take up the challenge and try and keep those teens breathing.
Until Dawn is quite possibly one of my favorite entries in the cinematic story telling genre, if not my favorite. It hits on all the right notes, has interesting variation outcomes from the butterfly effects, it looks great, and it’s the closest we’ve come to being in a horror flick. Sometimes funny, sometimes cheesy, sometimes downright scary and tense as hell, Until Dawn is one wild ride, and while not everyone will think it’s worth the entry price, I couldn’t be happier with the end results. I had such a blast with it, I started it over immediately to complete again, a rare thing these days. They aimed to go for an interactive horror movie experience and they absolutely nailed it.
What’s really important is how it works as a whole and it’s here that Until Dawn exceeds expectations. It feels like a bit of a throwback in terms of story, but the fact that you can make choices that play against the character archetypes makes for a much more compelling game.
I’m going to say it outright, Until Dawn is the best horror adventure since Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. For the longest time, developers such as Quantic Dream have tried to make this style of game work only to end up getting stuck halfway between a film and a game. With Until Dawn, Supermassive has laid the foundation for how it can be done while producing an enjoyable and highly polished horror experience. It’s an adventure game brought to life by a compelling cast of characters and a narrative that expertly plays with genre tropes to upturn expectations. It’s certainly not original in all its ideas, but it does deliver one of the most meaningful choice systems to date. What once looked to be a disaster has turned out to be one of this year’s biggest surprises. Expect great scares and to have a tonne of fun!
Supermassive Games’ Until Dawn is quite simply one of the best horror games I’ve played. It’s a uniquely terrifying adventure in what is one of the most cliched sub-genres around. The choice and consequence system crafts an experience that begs to be replayed and the writing is engaging and rather impressive. Horror fans will certainly find many things to love about Until Dawn, and it’s very possible that others will too. While we’ll most likely never really know what the game was and what it was like on PlayStation 3, I’m incredibly thankful for what we have now.
In the end, Until Dawn succeeds because it’s incredibly smart, well-made and believable horror fiction, despite some moments of absurdity. It’s not dumb, nor is it forgettable, and its top notch, incredibly lifelike presentation doesn’t hurt, either. Don’t skip on this one unless you absolutely cannot handle scary movies, because we’re talking about a game that has catapulted itself into Game of the Year contention.
While there are flaws here and there, Until Dawn is a very well put together experience, mixing great graphics and complex storytelling in a super-tight package. If you fit its very specific target, meaning that you enjoy the specific kind of horror it reproduces, and you don’t mind old-style adventure-like gameplay and quicktime events galore, you’ll find it a really exceptional and fairly unique game, that will scare the hell out of you in all the right ways.
The simplest way of describing Until Dawn without in any way spoiling it, is to say that if you like Quantic Dream’s games and think the idea of that style mixed with an “I Know What You Did Last Summer” or “Scream” style narrative would be good, you’re probably going to really dig it. It’s a hugely cinematic experience that boils down to asking you to move, pick things up, and complete QTE events, but its player choice is so dramatic that you’ll really want to play through it multiple times to see what happens should you choose differently. While some of the characters are stereotypical, the voice work more than makes up for it, and it’s a beautifully directed piece of visual design. It won’t win many awards, but it’s destined to be a cult hit, and deservedly so.
I didn't expect to have so much fun with Until Dawn, and the depth with which my choices mattered and affected the final outcome encouraged repeat playthroughs. The visuals can be wonky at times, but in the end Until Dawn succeeds in being a thoughtful use of familiar mechanics, a great achievement in player-driven narrative, and a horror game you shouldn't miss.
Until Dawn is a pleasant surprise, and something that fans of interactive stories will really appreciate. As a schlocky horror it's a success, but its fiction actually goes beyond simple slasher – even if it remains intentionally silly throughout. The sometimes sloppy controls will irritate, while the performance capture could have been better, but neither of these issues are nightmarish enough to pull you out of the popcorn flick plot, which is buoyed by the impressive, if not gigantically impactful, butterfly effect. A ridiculous romp is what was promised, then, and this one will keep occupied all night long.
Looking back at the history of horror games that I’ve loved over the years, most have existed in a world of what one might call “flawed brilliance.” Until Dawn, for me, very much finds itself in that kind of category. While it has some awkward controls, rough patches here and there, and doesn’t make full use of the ideas it’s brought to the table, it does all of those things while legitimately trying to inject something fresh and different into the genre in which it belongs. I think there’s going to be a lot of people for whom Until Dawn doesn’t click—especially those who require more “game” from their games. For those fans of horror who can still focus on the light in any unfortunate moments of darkness, then this is one gorey getaway trip I’d recommend you take.
With its immersive world, branching narrative, and lifelike character work, Until Dawn will have players on the edge of their seats while pounding them with jump scares and a bone-chilling soundtrack. Having previously worked on ports and smaller titles for Sony, Supermassive Games have shown that they can play with the big boys and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Even when its mechanics serve too many masters and compromise a bit of tension, even when narrative shifts feel erratic, and even though I might roll my eyes at the umpteenth jump scare, Until Dawn is still a fun experience. Frequently, it’s a great one. And when the acting, tension, atmosphere, and gameplay come together in harmony, it positively sings. Whether you’re looking for slasher thrills, psychological horror, or the latest cinematic adventure with a flair for film conventions, Until Dawn has you covered. But its most interesting experiment is with choices and their meaningful, permanent, grisly consequences. It’s not the first game to have such bravado, but it’s among the best.
After 30 minutes I expected Until Dawn to be a silly horror game that was mostly terrible but got pulled through thanks to the sheer idiocy of everything going on. That isn't really the game it turned out to be, with what's on offer being a lot better than I gave the developers credit for. In terms of gameplay mechanics it's incredibly simple, but that works in the its favour, leaving you to become fully engrossed in the thrilling and malleable storyline. If you fancy a gory treat that hits plenty of high notes, Until Dawn is highly recommended.
Misfire? We say no. It'll only not be enjoyed by any who have sworn off QTEs or Heavy Rain-like titles as non-games unworthy of their time. Yes, Until Dawn feels like an interactive movie or horror series, but it's a very enjoyable watch - and play - while it lasts.
Until Dawn is a thrilling experience. For horror fans, this will be one of the best horror experiences that gaming has seen in years. It’s a perfect balance of story telling and gameplay and doesn’t drag on at all. I constantly found myself wanting to go back to find out what happened next which is rare in gaming narrative. Those looking for constant action may be disappointed, but I’d advise anybody who wants a unique and new experience to give it a go.
Ultimately, Until Dawn is a clever romp through horror movie tropes that is good for those who want fun interactive narratives. It’s cheesy, and there’s perhaps less to do with it once you’re done than I’d like, but it lacks the rough edges of many other narrative-first games.
Until Dawn kept me intrigued from start to finish. I came for the campy teen horror movie feel and left extremely impressed with how well rounded and influential an experience Supermassive Games delivered. This is a game that you'll be talking to your friends and colleagues about for years to come as you'll find no two experiences are alike no matter how hard you try.
Terrifying night in the snowy mountains is a surprisingly exciting adventure. The interactive video structure works great, grabs your attention and keeps your eyes peeled to the screen, even if horror is not your favourite genre.
Until Dawn takes inspiration from some of the genre’s best, and puts control over the lives of eight people directly into the hands of the player. So if you enjoy a good horror movie, and get can your head around the idea of playing yet another QTE-heavy game, you’re going to enjoy the hell out of Until Dawn.
Until Dawn is a hugely enjoyable piece of entertainment. I’m hesitant to call it a game, because while it clearly is one it straddles other forms of entertainment simultaneously. Its claims of a massively branching and divergent narrative are hugely overstated, but while playing, the potential for such is palpable. It’s a decent and sometimes very clever horror story with enough self-awareness to avoid the pitfalls of the genre.
By the time the credits rolled on Until Dawn, it was clear that Supermassive Games set out with a specific goal in mind. They wanted to deliver a horror tale that blends elements within the genre and gives players agency in the decisions made by the characters. There are no standout mechanic or deep gameplay systems, just simple choice, exploration, and some basic puzzling, all bolstered by branching paths. In essence, Supermassive wanted to see if players, when faced with seemingly innocuous choices, could keep these characters alive until dawn.
It took me around ten hours to complete my first playthrough and I’ve already replayed several segments of the game since then including the ending, which can vary depending on the choices you make. Not every character is guaranteed to live, not every character is guaranteed to die, and certain characters have many opportunities throughout the story to do both. I think anyone looking for a solid horror game are going to be pleasantly surprised by Until Dawn. I actually found it even more enjoyable playing with an audience, especially one that’s more scared of horror games than me. Until Dawn delivers on multiple fronts and it's a welcome addition to any PS4 owner’s library.
That being said, Until Dawn might not be for you. If you can't stand the idea of a teen slasher turned into a video game - cringe worthy characters and all - or you actually want to "play" your game, it's best to look elsewhere. But if you're even slightly interested in Until Dawn, I'd give it a rent at the very least. Until Dawn is a little trashy, a little cliché, but a lot of fun.
Until Dawn is gripping through its nine-odd hour running time and never lets off the gas. It’s scary — although sometimes cheaply so — and does a great job illustrating the butterfly effect. What Supermassive has accomplished so early in their tenure is impressive and something all horror fans should experience.
Until Dawn is a game constructed by people who understand how to manipulate its players’ sense of control. It’s informed by a deep study of horror films and smart in its consideration of how to employ this understanding in an interactive medium. It only fails in its uncharacteristic acceptance of a few outmoded tropes. In some ways that enhances Until Dawn as an attempt to properly translate its genre to a new form, while keeping its spirit intact. In others, it’s a disappointingly familiar problem to find in a game with so many novel ideas.
Until Dawn is a flawed, but fun experience. Though an unfocused story means it falls short of greatness, it’s an otherwise entertaining homage to the curious traditions of horror movies which pays off your in-game decisions with occasionally shocking consequences.
There’s a well written and unchanging lore here. It’s campy, but it’s horror and was never billed as anything else. The events on the mountain are set in motion and then wrapped around each of your decisions and characters’ fates. There are certain points and choices that will cause each character to die, some in a variety of nasty and horrific ways, and something about taking the reins of a character in a horror movie is just satisfying. Instead of yelling at the screen that they made a stupid choice, you get to beat yourself up for what you did to get them killed. When the sun rises and the final survivors are tallied up, you’ll realize Until Dawn isn’t perfect, but no matter which choices you make, it’s one hell of a ride.
Until Dawn gave me plenty of scary experiences for a good couple of hours. However, it simply couldn't maintain that fear factor for the full game and the replay elements aren't as compelling as I'd hoped they would be. If you are keen for a heart-pounding horror game, you could do far worse than Until Dawn, even if it doesn't fulfill its true potential.
Until Dawn is fun and will keep you on the edge of your seat, but it is also a one-off experience. The game has its flaws but it delivers, because it doesn't try to revolutionize the industry, only to satisfy horror movie fans with silly lines, stereotypes and above all else, jump scares that will make you laugh out of nerves.
There are times when I questioned whether or not I really liked Until Dawn. Then the end came and everything worked out pretty well. There are a few big twists, some of them you will see coming from miles away, and a few that you won't. But I did mostly enjoy my time with the game. I don't necessarily know when I'm going to go back and play again, but I am interested to check out a few of the other twists. I have a hard time justifying the $60 cost to anyone but fans of this kind of game.
Until Dawn knows exactly what it is, and it doesn't pretend to be anything more. In that process it allows for some predictable plotlines, hammy acting, and lack of meaningful choices, but I'm glad that it exists, and every horror fan owes it to themselves to play it at some point -- especially at a price cut.
Until Dawn does what it is aiming to do well. It's a near-perfect adaptation of an average slashemonster film. It's a fun romp through a horror movie, and the tension of all characters being able to live and die contributes well to the overall feel. At the end of the day, though, it's not exceptional and lacks replay value. A $60 price tag is too high for the experience, especially with companies like Telltale Games and Dontnod Entertainment offering similar experiences for lower prices. Until Dawn is still enjoyable, but perhaps it needs to wait for a price drop or rental.
Until Dawn is a good game, with a number of issues which can prevent people from liking the overall experience. The game is quite similar to Beyond and Heavy Rain but with a very different plot. If you like both of these kinds of adventures and the horror movies, you'll find in Until Dawn a very good deal.
So it’s with a heavy heart that I say I wish this was cheaper, I wish this was episodic and I wish I could send you all to go and play it immediately. As it stands, the experience is tremendously enjoyable but flawed, with less choice than we’ve been promised. There is plenty of horror here and it’s schlockily, predictably brilliant but this is inherently an ultra beautiful Telltale game. It’s a terrifying ghost train at times but by the end you might just be able to see the cogs working behind the scenes and as such the toughest choice you'll face in Until Dawn is whether or not to pay full price for it.
Despite that, I recommend horror fans try out Until Dawn. I enjoyed it, even if it didn't set out to be the best horror game ever. It told a solid horror tale and once I finished, I could jump back back and try out some other versions of the story. Even just talking out the differences between my playthrough and a colleague's was satisfying and I think that's where Until Dawn will find some mileage. Honestly, I want to see more interactive horror from Supermassive. Not as a sequel to the story here or with this cast again, but a new cast in a new setting? I'd be completely down for that. So if you dig horror, try out Until Dawn. Supermassive deserves to make more.
Until Dawn may be in the same camp as other Sony exclusives like Heavy Rain and Beyond, as while it appears to offer a much broader spectrum of interactivity, it ultimately comes down to a linear storyline and quick two-choice decisions. However, the way in which it tells this storyline makes it really enjoyable to sit down and play through in a few nights as the graphics, performances, comfortable clichés and the illusion of choice work together to make a pretty great horror experience.
Until Dawn exists within a strange duality. It's a game that's generic while being unlike anything else I've ever played. It's bad in some very evident ways, and yet I want everyone I know to try it. It's not a great game, probably not even a good one, but it does things I want every narrative-based game going forward to learn from. I'm still fascinated by it, still planning more playthroughs for myself, still wanting to recommend it to friends. Until Dawn's greatest mystery may be how it manages to remain compelling in spite of such huge flaws.
As a result you end up shouting abuse at the on-screen characters’ stupidity almost as much as you would an ordinary movie. At which point you begin to wonder why don’t just… watch an ordinary movie. After all, there’s plenty of horror films we’d watch more than once, that don’t cost £50 for the pleasure. Those are two intrinsic flaws that Until Dawn can never escape from, and although the end result is far from horrible it’s still barely interactive.
Screwing up now and then gets the characters killed, and you're stuck with your failures because the game doesn't stop to force you to try again or let you flip back to an earlier save to cheat another try. That element takes Until Dawn from being what's effectively a movie with quicktime events to a dynamic middle ground of storytelling: more than a horror movie you might catch on a Friday night, but still grounded in the tropes of that experience. When Until Dawn is hitting that stride, it's at its most exciting.
Taking a story that careens between various sub genres rather than choosing a direction and committing, and marrying it to disposable characters who are at best inoffensive and at worst unlikable does not commend itself to an additional five or six hours on a second playthrough to see how different choices play out, or even a third playthrough to make sure you see absolutely every way this Choose Your Own Adventure game can unfold. Unless, of course, you are a fan of teenage schlock horror movies and adventure games, in which case Until Dawn was made just for you.
Visuals are not enough to pull the game from the depths of despair it so eagerly hopes to convey to the player. Despite the butterfly effect's premise, a ham-fisted story means you won't care about who might live and who might die. It's not enough to save the game from disappointment, and in the end, Until Dawn is its own self-inflicted nightmare.
Until Dawn is weird. It’s got problems—the pacing is way better in the first half, you spend too much time looking for collectibles, the story isn’t actually worth a damn in the end—but it’s so earnest. This game was made by horror fans for horror fans, and that passion is obvious. Culty, schlocky games are exceptionally rare, but Until Dawn fits that description perfectly. It’s a big, dumb, super-fun choose-your-own-adventure game with some terrific scares. It shouldn’t exist...but it does, and I’m excited to play it again. Maybe when I do, I’ll manage to get a couple more of these dopes to the end alive.
Until Dawn isn’t a massive evolution of the horror genre, so put that expectation right out of your head. The clever stuff it does, asking you about your fears and your opinions of the characters, are used to shape your experience – but not so consequentially that you’ll really feel the difference unless you have an overwhelming phobia (in which case, lie). This is not a game that will get inside you psychologically, I’m afraid.
Until Dawn is an incredibly strong exclusive, and given its history of delays, pushing the release date a few more months wouldn't have hurt; the game is perfect for Halloween frights. That Until Dawn isn't getting any corporate love is almost as scary as the game itself.
Until Dawn is one of those experiences that will have people debating what qualifies a game as a game. There isn’t really a challenge, and when you make a mistake it doesn’t impede your progress, it simply changes the story. But whatever you want to call it, it’s worthy horror; it takes the best of both film and games and combines them into a terrifying, heart-wrenching experience. Often when I finish a game or movie like this, I’m left with lingering questions about what really happened. With Until Dawn, the only real question I have is what might have changed if I had been a little bit smarter, a bit quicker to react. It’s such a strong feeling that I’m planning to play the game again, to spend another 10 hours in a creepy, uncomfortable place, just so that I can see if I can save everyone this time.
This game is a breath of fresh air into the role-playing genre.
[WARNING, MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS] I recently started playing Kingdom Come: Deliverance, and have sunk a bunch of time into it. The prologue of the game had attempted to beat the idea into the player's head that you are NOT a super-hero, and that you can't do everything and can't kill everyone. But, I personally was oblivious to the mode the game developers had created. I had thought okay, well Henry's that shit, but I'm not right? Just so that minutes later I would be crushed by a random highwayman, fail and feel fear at failing to knock someone out, and to possibly most relatably grit my teeth over the loud THUNK that a shattering lock-pick makes. This is not a review, this is just me giving thanks to the developers for what they have done right. The leveling system in this game should be praised. While it is not on a one-to-one scale, it gives the player a sense of growth and development. You truly feel as though you are Henry of Skalitz, a master blacksmith's son, as though you truly are an underling who is undermined and underestimated by everyone, and that you need to get better. The atmosphere of the game, the dialogue, and the tone towards the player is immersive to the role of Henry. I can recall using one of the Saviour Schnapps I received from Bianka in Skalitz to practice lockpicking at Peshek's Mill. I felt enraged that I had to use something which was seemingly of immense value to learn something as basic as picking an easy lock over and over again. The game's framework rewards you for this, it rewards your time. With every skill, personal, or combat level there is a noticeable, but not game-breaking bump in your character's abilities. The most personal to me is when I came across the [Wayfaring Knight.] I was terrible at combat and warfare, my abilities being sub 4 in almost, if not everything - but for some reason when I came across this knight, out of gusto and bravado I decided to accept his challenge, and his bet. Rightfully so, I got slaughtered by the seasoned vet. After I lost I snuck up behind him, knocked him out, and looted him. I was thinking of going on my merryway, before it dawned on me this is not how the game is meant to be played. I reverted back to an earlier save, and with the help of Captain Bernard of Rattay I trained endlessly, first doing wooden training, and then fighting with real weapons. I lost to the Captain about half a dozen times in total before I was able to beat him, and THAT was one of, if not the best feelings a video game has given me in a long time. When I came across the Wayfaring Knight once again, I had the upper-hand on him and won. It merely validated my training, and rewarded me immensely for the time and resources I put in to learning. Thank you Warhorse Studios for this incredible, and truly humbling experience. TLDR: Great game that teaches you about humility, and actually makes you feel as though you are the character, and are restrained by what the character can do, rather than what you want to do.
Got into the rep game earlier this year and now have withdrawals if I don’t have my daily dose of reps.. I’m 170cm tall weighing in at 63 kg (5”6’ and 139 pounds for my american friends), skinny/fat build that usually wear a small. Have a very minimalist style, so majority of the items in this review is going to be heaps low-key. Points definitely lean towards the comfort of an item over all else. Being from an island in the middle of nowhere, shit is ridiculously expensive in australia T-T” After reading countless reviews and compiling myself 6 hauls, I wanted to give back to the community that’s helped me so much. From the amazing must cop pieces to the heartbreaking L’s…Here is my little review of my must cops (: N.B. Apologies in advance, some of the images had a strange orange tinge from the reflection of my timber flooring... Other pieces missing their corresponding photos are unfortunately in the wash or simply not with me atm - check back later, most likely be updated in a day or two (:
Review: Oh boy - the draping suspenders make me so wet… Nice and thick with represent branding detailed into it. One of my very first purchases and one of my favourites. Very well made, cotton lining keeps you quite warm. Not sure about the flaws though. It did emit a strange smell which went away after a week
Review: Definitely my favourite Cop of my 5th haul, nice thicccc ass blank and the printwork is phenomenal! Missed out on the first release from UK, fortunate enough to be notified of their restock over WeChat after inquiring earlier. I believe this hoodie is as close to 1:1 as you can get, both tags are correct. One of my beloved grails! Although OOS atm, believe UK is restocking later this year!
Review: The famous Cwhat Kanye inspired hoodie - thicc and warm af. As I purchased three different colourways from Cwhat - 2 of my hoodies had come with “Saint Mansion” tags which had the perfect oversize fit. And the third came tagged as “Black Icon”, which unfortunately was too baggy and long despite the fact they were all the same size?? Gave it to my girl for that 1:1 sexy af oversized bf hoodie look. :D Advise you to ask your agent to request for Saint Mansion tagged hoodie when placing your order.
Review: The details of the tags, the zips and just everything about this jacket is absolutely spot on! Very nice puffy aesthetic, although a little thinner than I’d originally expected, it’ll still keep you warm. A great bomber to top off a layered masterpiece. It is quite expensive though, there are cheaper alternatives on this subreddit somewhere if you don't really care about tags.
Review: My second tech fleece hoodie purchase as the first one I’ve ordered was too small, ended up giving it to my cousin. It's thinner than I expected - great outer layer for when you’re hitting the gym or going for a jog. Zips run very smooth and the nike logo and tags looks good. The two dark stripes running towards the centre of the chest is slightly misaligned - by a millimetre or so - not very noticeable. The cuff for some reason splits into two colours with black underside - side of your palm. This was quite a pricey pick up, sure there are cheaper options. Staple of any wardrobe
Review: Was this a fucking bargain! The blank is nice with an inner fleece lining makes it extremely comfortable, sized up twice and fits a tad baggy but prefer it this way. The logo also looks very solid, although this is to an untrained eye. Pretty poor lighting for pictures of this hoodie, sorry!
Review: The gucci flower x champion logo embroidery is very solid - no loose threads. Thinner than anticipated though, so a simple layering hoodie. The familiar champion 'c' embroidery on the sleeve feels a little flat and also came a little stained, but doesn’t really bother me though.
Review: Such a solid long sleeve, flex these on the cooler night of game days. I was silly in thinking that this long sleeve should be sized similar to my sweaters/hoodies. So it turned out to be a little oversized, which isn’t bad considering what I’m using it for. The felt print logos feels so goooooood! I believe DopeA$$ has fixed the Palace triferg lettering so that L & A is now touching in the newer batch.
Review: Considered the one true staple pieces of any FRfam wardrobe. The tee is thick and comfortable, with great length to spice up your outfit just that much more. I went TTS with there and they are perfect, although others have suggested to size up because it’s tight around the chest.
Review: One of my favourite low-key pieces, the small logo on the bottom just makes it so clean. Was quite hesitant on getting these tees at first - had come across a lot of mixed reviews on reddit. Glad i copped, good thickness to the tees and soft to the touch! Suggest sizing up once at least, it shrunk in the wash and now fits perfectly - Win! The stitching did come undone on the hem of the grey tee but for the price, can’t complain (:
Review: This piece took over this subreddit last month and was classified as a 1:1 item in many haul reviews. Never had the authentic piece in hand but damn, this is just so clean, definitely cop if you can!
Review: Material is thick af, fits very nicely. The embroidery for the logo is magnificent! For the times when you need to step up for that preppy look, this is one of the tees to turn to. The tees did run a little small when it came into the warehouse from the QC images I received and comparing them to the sellers' size charts. Suggest sizing one up! For this price, you don't have to think twice about copping.
Review: A very simple look to pull off at work. Might actually have swayed me into investing in more button downs from taobao since it wasn't a big fat L - well until I get a pay rise then looking to get those thicc aff 1000 thread count shirts (if that's even a thing). Not as thin as anticipated which is a plus, couldn't get a smaller size - so XS was my best bet. It fits a little big, compared to usual business attire sizing, but I'm happy with the breathing room it offers.
Review: These are extremelyyy comfortable and warm, great for the winter months in australia right now. Only gripe is the inner tag has been sewn directly onto the drawstrings… --’’ been wanting to take my unboxing knife to get rid of the tag buh ceebs.
Review: One of the most iconic pieces from FOG with the long drawstrings and zippers on the medial side of the ankle (The zippers can be a little jaggy from time to time). These are a hefty pair of joggers which feels really sturdy and solid. Fantastic addition to any hypebeast closet
Review: Huge shoutout to u/Vested_Bravado for finding these on his MFH. Great pair of tapered joggers with zips errrrywhere. You do notice the zippers when they’re fully zipped near the ankle since the joggers are so tapered, but doesn’t bother me too much.
Review: Absolutely fuck with these joggers, the washed out camo looks super sweet. Tapered fit, but not as form fitting as the generic joggers reviewed above. The sellers’ size charts is rather confusing as you’ll still need to double the waist circumference. Although the ankle cuffs are strangely loose - not totally flapping about but still just not cuffed like I’m use to..
Review: I have small feet lol.. And these fit me perfect. Go by US 7 usually and these fit me perfectly, there may be an issue with sizing for people with heaps big feet. Nice and thin socks for an unbeatable price!
Review: t h i c c a f! Supreme detailing on the lanyard looks great, has a very sturdy feel. The supreme tag started coming undone at the first 'e', trimmed it off with some nail clippers - rest seem to be ok. Key ring clasp seems to be your everyday average one - wish the key ring clasp was also black for that sexy af black on black flex! <3
Review: Quite flexible and feels sturdy, engraving on the tag looks great! Simple and elegant solution for flexing them keys in that 1:1 classy environment
If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for taking the time to read me blab on about my wardrobe. And damn - hell of a lot of work putting this together, thank you to everyone that puts in the time and effort for this awesome community. If there are any questions or mistakes I've made, please let me know in the comments below. May all your future hauls be blessed by the 1:1 Gods! Happy hauling my friends :D
We had a lot of big surprises yesterday, but the most delightful to me was the sudden and slightly overwhelming discovery of officially-localized names for virtually every pre-FE7 character in the series. Now, I know there’s a lot of ballyhoo over the Jugdral names, since there was considerably less precedent set for those, but I wanted to comb through my home turf in Elibe and take a close look at the new names we got and—most importantly—why we got them. Are you ready for some TANGENTIAL LEARNING?! Now, keep in mind that I’m not scouring (heh) books of medieval poetry or ancient epics here; I’m using Wikipedia, primarily, and acknowledging the usual drawbacks, or else falling back on my own interpretations. Also there are a handful of unmarked FE6/7 spoilers; nothing too big, but y'know. Fair warning. Before we get into it, let’s review the names we already had going in: Characters who are Roy: Roy. Characters whose English names were confirmed in FE7: Marcus, Bartre, Karel, Merlinus, Eliwood, Hector, Zephiel, Guinivere, Lilina, Hugh, Igrene, Fae, Sophia, Geese, Dayan. Characters whose English names were confirmed in Awakening: Cecilia, Perceval, Lugh, Raigh, Wolt, Shanna, Narcian. Characters with names unchanged from accepted fan translations: Bors, Cath, Chad, Clarine, Dorothy, Douglas, Fir, Lance, Noah, Saul, Sue. Now, without further ado, let’s take a close look at the newly-confirmed names! I’ve provided any possible translations I was aware of, but I may be missing some of them… though I guess it’s sort of a moot point now. Alan/Allen → Alen. Basically combined the two go-to fan names, no big deal here. Dieck/Deke → Dieck. Yes, I know. Get over it. Wade/Ward → Wade. I think this was a pretty commonly-accepted name, but here’s confirmation. I’ve seen it both ways. Lot/Lott → Lot. Same deal as his bro, but I’m just bringing it up because it means we can successfully combine his name with Lance’s to get Lancelot. Ellen/Elen → Elen. Got the Alen treatment. I was kinda hoping they’d differentiate them, but I’m a total hypocrite because I’d been going with Allen and Ellen. RutgeRutoga → Rutger. I know “Rutoga” was probably just the result of some poor intern working overtime on Brawl and nobody actually called him this, but in the interest of thoroughness, I’m including it. Oujay/Ogier → Ogier. Another Song of Roland reference. There are hints at FE’s Ogier being the “true successor” to Roland (both receive the epigraph “Little Hero,” for example), so this seemed inevitable. Barth/Barts → Barthe. Ye Olde Throwawaye Unyt. Possibly, due to the Ostian connection, a cutesy reference to Roland Barthes? If you try and tell him he’s a bad unit, he’ll retaliate by deconstructing your semiotic conception of “bad.” ‘bout the only thing he can deconstruct amirite. Gale/Galle → Galle. There’s plenty of stuff named Galle, but I can’t nail down a clear allusive relationship. This is one of the few where I prefer the original in keeping with Bern’s wind/weather theming (more on that later), but it’s still sort of there, just not as explicit. I guess we already got that with Zephiel (from “zephyr”), and arguably Zeiss (similar enough to Zeus, although that’s stretching it). So I dunno, maybe I do like it. Zeiss/Zeis → Zeiss. Six of one, half dozen of the other (wyvern eggs, of course). Again, I kind of feel like the one S would have evoked Zeus a little more, but maybe that’s too on-point. Miledy/Milady → Melady. I got nothing. It’s like they wanted to kill the fedora jokes but thought Melody was too mainstream. Google doesn’t reveal any hidden brilliance here: I looked up Melady and got an American ambassador and a period tracker. Let’s just all agree to call her Captain. Brunya/Brenya → Brunnya. I feel like no one was passionately settled on this one anyway so it works. Kinda more Nordic-sounding (ie. like Brunnhilde), I guess, to go with…. Idoun/Iduun/Idenn/Idun/Idunno,takeyourpick → Idunn. One of the preferred anglicized spellings of the Norse, just to keep that allusion intact. Hey lady, Jugdral's that way! Elphin → Elffin. Just gettin’ that Welsh spelling in there. I’ll bet my copy of Radiant Dawn that—given a proper FE6 localization—they’d parallel it consonantly with Myrddin rather than the initial Mildain. Klein/Klain → Klein. SIGH OF RELIEF. Likewise, Echidna, not Ekhidna. Praise be; the Knuckles jokes live to see another day. Adversaries get shelved! Gonzales/Gonzalez → Gonzalez. From what I can glean, this spelling seems to be more common in Spain whereas Gonzales is more common in Latin America? So they’re just solidifying the European vibe here. Also TIL Mario already got dibs on Gonzales as his ring name in another IS game. Garret/Garrett → Garret.. I’m sure I’ve seen it with two Ts? Honestly I don’t even think I was paying enough attention to spell it consistently myself. Sorry Garrett. Er. Garett? Shoot. Can I just call you Gary? Lalum → Larum. This one seemed like it was really out of nowhere, since nobody has ever called her that ever. Apparently it’s from alarum, an archaic word for “alarm,” or in particular, “a call to arms.” Perfect for a refresh unit, and a particularly loud one at that. I friggin’ love names like this, more suggestive of an idea or a feeling than straight-up referencing something. High five to whomever came up with this one. Niime → Nimue. More allusion reinforcement, albeit in contradiction to FE7 canon (Canas-Pent B). Nimue (along with Ninian, funnily enough), is one of the Lady of the Lake’s many various names (not including any variation on Azura, funnily enough). Now if only our Nimue could get rid of Merlinus for us. Jahn/Yahn/The Enigmatic Man → Jahn. No surprises here. Nice to see they thought to visually distinguish his name from Jan’s; I wonder if they went ahead and named all the FE6 characters during FE7’s localization process? I’d be curious to know how far back these date in the annals of the Treehouse, since there’s obviously a lot of thought put into them. Shin → Sin. RUTGER VS. SIN EDGE-OFF GO. Nah but really, it looks like the reference here is to the Haida god of the sky. Could also be referring to the Mesopotamian moon god (also known as Nanna, for all you Jugdral fans), but the Haida angle seems to make more sense culturally. Father Sky and all. Tate → Thite. dammit Treehouse, just when I thought, “oh are we agreeing on Tate? finally, something I can pronounce!” No allusion to speak of here; Google Thite and you get… Thite. Treck → Trec. Again, no dice. They’re just screwin’ with us on this one. Jodel/Yodel → Yoder.Apparently a clan from Actual Bern named after a missionary monk. Neat! Juno/Yuno → Juno. They went Y on one name and J on the other. I’m glad in both cases; this one combines an easy mythological grab) with the audial resonance of Juneau, Alaska, which I’d assume is on the level with Ilia weather-wise. Also she, uh, had a baby?) Zealot/Jerrod → Zelot. Sticking to the roots, give or take an “a.” Still not sure why they went for this name in the first place for such a laid-back, it-is-what-it-is sort of character. It certainly does Raigh Zelot of questions, that's for Elffin sure. ...Okay, now that those puns made y’all good and angry, let’s talk about some of the more controversial names: Wendy → Gwendolyn. Okay. First off, this is a whole lot of fuss over a character none of us even like. Second, it makes sense in light of Elibe’s cultural inspirations: it’s Welsh, derived from a word meaning (among other possibilities) “link of a chain,” perhaps a nod to her heavy armor or the chained weapons the General class uses. Depending on who you ask, it’s also Arthurian. Her brother is named after a knight of the Round Table, so… yeah, it works. Third, this should be a moot point because Wendy is short for Gwendolyn anyway. I’d said in a comment earlier that this was J.M. Barrie’s doing with Peter Pan. Turns out this is only half-true: he did propel the name Wendy into public consciousness, but it had been used as a nickname for Gwendolyn before that, though that’s not what he got it from. We nickname FE characters all the time; this doesn’t have to be any different. The only bad thing about this change is that now Roy has to bear the sole burden of Koopaling jokes. Murdock → Marduk.. I’m not entirely sure I can defend this one. It’s a total retcon of canon, and well-established canon at that. This wasn’t a Nimue situation where the character was referred to once in passing, or a Lachesis situation where you had different localization teams—he appears several times in FE7 and is consistently referred to as Murdock. But, given the otherwise-impeccable consistency in this list, as well as the meaningful Lachesis retcon, I had to wonder whether there was something more to this. Enter Marduk, patron deity of Babylon. The connections here are somewhat haphazard, but striking all the same. Marduk rises swiftly through the ranks of the Mesopotamian pantheon, according to his corresponding creation story, being “promoted” based on his determination and merits in battle. He wages battle against the goddess Tiamat (whose name you might recognize as Titania’s Japanese name), using storm winds as his primary weapons. He is often depicted with or as a “snake-dragon.” And there are a few references to him carrying antidotes for poison and being referred to as a “reviver of the dead.” Starting to come together? Desmond describes Marduk in FE7 as “baseborn,” but reluctantly admires the skill and drive that won him the mantle of Wyvern General at such a young age—a wyvern, of course, not being too far off from a snake-dragon. As we’ve established, many of the other Bernese characters have names associated with wind (Zephiel/zephyr, Galle/gale, even Legault’s title of Hurricane). But it’s that last tidbit that gets me. The single most important thing Bern’s Marduk does in the story is to nurse a dying Zephiel back to health from the grips of poison. So, is it worth the retcon? I’m not sure I’d go that far. Murdock has a much more appropriate feel, its Scottish origins in keeping with Elibe’s cultural landscape. I would forgive the more ancient vibe if he really was a dragon, but that’s just silly. I mean, look at how much he… ages… between games….. Astore/Astohl → Astolfo. I’ll admit— this was the first time my face fell this entire evening. I was just working with Mage Attorney names this afternoon and musing on how neat it is that Astore (his chosen name, remember) suggests a connection to Thor, who thunder-axe-bearing Hector arguably channels. A name perfectly illustrating the character’s all-in service and loyalty to his liege— gone. But a nagging voice in my head said, “there’s no way they just randomly went with this. Look it up.” So I did. Apparently, he’s a character in the Matter of France, a literary cycle covering the (mythologized) history of France, including The Song of Roland, which Elibe drew from liberally to form its own mythos. Astolfo, as a character, is ridiculous. Do yourself a favor and read the article, but in the meantime I'll summarize: he’s the cousin of Roland, has all sorts of OP magic weapons, rides what’s essentially a Rapidash AND a hippogriff, and goes on crazy adventures where he rescues important figures and slays giants and generally kicks an inordinate amount of ass. In other words, he’s absolutely nothing like our alcoholic, downtrodden, nearly-crippled pal in FE6. And that’s why it’s such a brilliant choice. Remember that Astolfo—or Astore, or Astohl, or Astroturf, whatever you wanna call him— never was his true name. He’s Gorlois—and, given that Treehouse has spelled out loud and clear that they are fully aware of their Arthurian allusions here, that’s probably still true in English. So Astolfo is his chosen alias, his new identity after he’s lost everything. Why not go all out? It’s totally consistent with the bravado in his interactions, emphasizes the duality he struggles with (the real-world Gorlois’s story is considerably shorter and suckier than Astolfo’s), hints at the optimism that occasionally shines through in him, AND brings together the allusive influences of both the Matter of France and the Matter of Britain. I wonder if the localizer who figured this out felt as satisfied as I do now just putting the pieces together as a fan. I kind of always got a slight Italian vibe from Ostia—probably because the real Ostia’s in Rome—so even the admittedly-unexpected Italian flavor makes sense. It’ll certainly take some getting used to, but who am I to deny this kind of hidden thoroughness? I hope this quelled some of the general misgivings regarding the new names, or at least shed some light on some of it. I also hope everyone appreciates the completely unnecessary thought and effort that went into packing as much fun and interesting allusion into these names as possible. Localization gets flak for some choices, sure, but I think it’s so cool that they were this meticulous (generally speaking) with naming characters most of the fans will completely overlook. We’re all elated over the big news, but my current hype is aimed squarely at these littlest of touches. If anyone is interested in doing this for one of the other previously-unlocalized titles, I definitely recommend it: the research is surprisingly fun and I'd be interested in learning about those meaningful connections myself.
In so many different ways guys, like...aaaagh. I haven't had a chance to say much about it since I had to go to work right after it aired so I guess I'll just throw some thoughts up and see what sticks. First of all you guys that have talked to me know that I'm a huge Amethyst fan...Best gem, shorty squad, purple sis, grape gremlin, whatever you call her that little purple garbage disposal is as near and dear to my heart as the show's titular character! So when it was obvious at the end of Crack the Whip that we were headed into major Ame-angst territory, I, like probably 99% of us was ready for some On the Run-esque feels... But...but then we got something even BETTER?! Something that completely defied our expectations (again!)? THIS EPISODE WAS LIKE...ON THE RUN 2: THE AME-STEVEN BOOGALOO. Okay so starting from the top:
"I want in."
Well...that's a first! Amethyst actually applying herself a bit?! Man, Jasper really DID get into her head. Unfortunately for Amethyst the training scenes only confirm what she had suspected since the end of Crack the Whip: Steven has begun to outpace her in terms of physical performance...something that she obviously takes rather hard.
"Hey Amethyst, d'you wanna play Lonely Blade with me?"
Haha, oh Steven...two points for effort but nothing for execution. If you're gonna try to boost someone's self esteem you're gonna have to sound a little less patronizing. Well at least Steven's still doing his thing and recognizing when something's wrong with someone...and by that I mean he's still the only one who does that. Seriously, these gems have been roommates for millennia now and they never talk? At this point its probably not even worth mentioning; Steven has long been proven to be the glue that holds this family together.
"Great...and now you're even more mature than me"
Be honest with yourself, Amethyst...That's nothing new.
"You're the one who's supposed to be the rookie but now you're better than me at everything! Now I'm the worst Crystal Gem."
Okay, I get EXACTLY how Amethyst wanted that to come out and understand EXACTLY how that sentiment could elicit the kind of response Steven gave to it. Its extremely difficult to be in that situation where someone you know was once a novice at something you were skilled in and over time they turn out to become more skilled than you are currently. It's like...its not jealousy because you hold no ill will towards that person (a lot of times anyway) and its also not quite completely self loathing because it does involve that person but you're not really trying to blame them for besting you, you just hate the fact that that's the way it is. I speak a bit from personal experience here, I've had that conversation before with someone else and it went about as well as Amethyst's conversation with Steven did...even though I didn't intend for it to sound the way it did. Another thing to note: At this point Amethyst is expressing the same sort of sentiment Steven did in Indirect Kiss; that is "If I can't even compare to this kid then how do I call myself a Crystal Gem?" Heavy shit.
"I get mad at myself and it makes me suck at everything I do even more!"
Bruh, who told the Crew they could start reading outta my diary?! Seriously, that's a really relateable sentiment. Amethyst is an example of a character who is her own worst enemy. She's invented, as many of us do, this standard in her mind that she can't easily attain and berating herself mentally causes a complex in which she garners her "go with the flow" attitude. She's quite the hedonist and a real goof off to boot...all in an attempt to escape her feelings of inadequacy. I know about all this because that's basically who I am and that's why I love Amethyst so much. I look at her and I see me and I see a person I want to help and I want to see grow and learn and prosper. Its tough for people like me and Amethyst to look ourselves in the eye in the mirror...thank goodness for good friends, right?
"I'll prove it! I'll--I'll fight you and show you how bad I am!"
"Whoa! I DID NOT see that coming! THAT WAS AMAZING!"
At this point I can't fucking stop laughing...WHAT IS THIS?! I EXPECTED TO BE FULL OUT BAWLING AT THIS POINT BUT INSTEAD I'M BEING SUBJECTED TO THE MOST AGGRESSIVE BATTLE OF ENCOURAGEMENT I'VE EVER SEEN.
Steven bubble-Ame whip morningstar thingy
And then it hit me...THIS BATTLE IS ACTUALLY DOING SOME PRETTY POSITIVE THINGS! I was laughing so hard that I almost missed one of the most important facets of this episode. It really seems like Amethyst and Steven are trying to get the best of each other, trying to really lay the smackdown on one another...but they're not? They're actually kind of...complimenting each other through this entire fight??? What gives? The fight in On the Run wasn't anything like this! Sure, it was aggressive...but all it did was tear everything down and make us all cry tears of rage and sorrow with Steven and Amethyst... And that's when I realized this fight is NOTHING like the fight in On The Run was at all...In On The Run, Amethyst lashed out from a deeply embittered place of self loathing, self hatred, and sorrow. Her moves were careless and overbearing, doing more damage to the environment around her than her intended target. But...the thing that separates the fight in Steven vs Amethyst from all that is that she's not fighting out of a sense of self hatred any more... Steven and Amethyst are fighting from a standpoint in which they want to bring out the best in each other. It seems weird but literally the ENTIRE time they're shouting about how the other one is so much better than them that they end up really doing some amazing things together by the end of the fight! They unintentionally began what was basically a one on one sparring match...kinda like what Steven and Connie did with Pearl during Sworn to the Sword.
"Wha--Don't save me--!" "Ha! Guess who remembered to float?"
One of the biggest things that tips you off as to the different attitude of this fight from other Amethyst episodes is that both of these guys really give it their all...but they go out of their way to make sure the other doesn't get hurt in the process...Steven saves Amethyst from getting crushed with a pillar and Amethyst saves Steven from floating away. They respect each others' boundaries as well as each others' well being. Respect?! Amethyst?! WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH OUR PURPLE GREMLIN?!
"You...you can totally beat me...you're not even trying!"
Along with the "smack talk" there's a lot of verbal reinforcement during this fight...a lot of egging on, a lot of one opponent daring the other opponent to do better than they can do. Very good sportsmanship on behalf of both of these characters...reminds me of when I work out with my buddies, we're always trying to get each other to do better.
Collapsing into good natured laughter...
And that's how you know the fight wasn't malicious in the end...the two kind of laugh at their own bravado...and things really start to get deep.
"And everyone's always acting like there's no problem! YOU CAN BE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO BE! No, I cant! I can't even be the one thing I'm supposed to be, you know?"
If that's not relateable to a lot of people out there with conditions and disabilities that prevent them from doing the things they want to do then I don't know what is. I myself was born sterile and with a host of hormonal complications that means I'll never serve in the military. I have no ability to smell either so that entire sense is lost to me. Short or tall or weak or strong...so many stories end with things we want to do but aren't suited for. It really fucks us up.
"I'm not Rose Quartz." "Oh no...Oh, Steven!"
THERE'S WHERE THE FEELS WERE HIDING ALL THIS TIME. And then we have another side of that coin where Steven relates to people who are trapped in others' shadows. And also Amethyst's reaction was totally "God fucking dammit, this kid is even better at insecurities than I am."
"Why do you think I've been working so hard all this time?"
I think if there's ONE thing to take away from this episode its that Steven said this. Steven and Amethyst really leveled with each other this episode and Steven basically put his work ethic into words that Amethyst could understand...I'll bet you my bottom dollar this kid is gonna be the driving force that gets mah girl Amethyst to start really working at that dream...even if in the end she can't do everything a quartz can as good as a quartz can...she doesn't really need to. What Amethyst needs to do is what Steven's doing and find her own way of doing things...and perfect that!
Steven helping Amethyst up
And there you have it, folks. One sibling rivalry turned sibling unification! That episode was nothing that I was expecting or wanted it to be...INSTEAD IT WAS MORE THAN I COULD HAVE EVER HOPED FOR. That last scene where the two were talking out their frustrations really reminded me of all the times I've had heart to hearts with my older stepbrother. He came into my life when I was about 13 and has really become the big brother I never knew I wanted in that time. We don't always agree about everything either but we can always ALWAYS talk to each other and lean on each other when times are rough and that's what a real sibling is...someone who can always be on your level and who'll always have your back. One can only imagine what this sort of story of mutual uplifting between these two will reap when the time comes? Maybe...just maybe Jasper's days as a thorn in the side of the CGs are numbered! I guess I ended up just reviewing the episode...whoops. Hope you guys enjoy my observations I guess? I honestly don't expect them to be much different from other people's but I needed a place to ramble about how great I thought this episode was and what I think ought to be really taken away from it. TL;DR STEVEN AND AMETHYST HAD A GOOD TIME MMMMM'KAY? ALSO CREW GIB MOR PONYTAIL AMETHYST PLZ
Hi guys! Here are the girls from Cycle 3. If you guys know any of the missing girls’ social media handles, please let me know so I can add it to this post!
Name: Magdalena Rivas Placed: 14th Age: 36/37 (Estimate only; birthday isn’t online) First Call Outs: 0 Bottom 2: 0 (eliminated outside of panel) Twitter Followers: N/A Instagram Followers: 412 (@magdarivas) Magdalena Rivas on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 Joining America’s Next Top Model Cycle 3 did not necessarily put Rivas’ modeling career into high gear as she was the first one eliminated from the 14 finalists. She did get a little taste of what professional models go through everyday when they were flown from New York to Jamaica to do their very first photo shoot. She was eliminated on the spot, the morning after the photo shoot. POST-TOP MODEL Magdalena has kept a low profile since the show. She’s done some modeling work, but is not currently being represented by an agency. Magdalena has done print work for Vibe Magazine, ELLEGirl, and The Lab Uptown. She currently (according to her facebook) works for Children’s Health, a Nonprofit Organization based in Dallas, Texas. She has 2 beautiful girls, Nyla and Fiona. Name: Leah Darrow Placed: 13th Age: 36/37 (Estimate only; birthday isn’t online) First Call Outs: 0 Bottom 2: 1 Twitter Followers: 23.7k (@leahdarrow) Instagram Followers: 27.3k (@leah.darrow) Leah Darrow on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 Although it’s clear that Leah possesses the physical attributes of a model, she was the second to be cut on America’s Next Top Model on Cycle 3. Her removal from the show was brought upon by Leah’s plain and unimpressive photo shoot. The photographer remarked that Leah did not make eye contact with the camera and Tyra Banks commented that she did not position herself well in the pictures. After being eliminated, she walked away from the room without bidding the others farewell, but vowed to keep on pursuing her dream to become a professional model. POST-TOP MODEL After appearing on the show, Leah appeared in FHM Magazine. Since then, she is now an advocate for the Roman Catholic Church and Catholic modeling, doing print work for publications for The St. Louis Review, The Catholic Weekly, Lighthouse Catholic Media, YFE.org, as well as the cover and a spread in Family Foundation Magazine. Some of Leah’s speeches cover topics such as modesty, chastity, the pro-life message (including the death penalty), “catholic” fashion, conversion from sin, and living your life for Christ. Since the show, Leah has a regular podcast entitled Do Something Beautiful (now on it’s fourth season) where she regularly discusses a variety of topics. She has also come out with her own book, The Other Side of Beauty, based on the lies we are told about our worth being tied to our appearance and instead invites us to look again at the real meaning of beauty. She has also appeared in TV series such as The Journey Home and Beloved. In 2012, she married her boyfriend Ricky, who serves in the US Military. Leah has 3 beautiful children: Agnes (born 2013), Ambrose (born 2015), and Violet (born 2016). In May 2017, Leah graduated with Magna cum Laude honors with her Masters in Theology from the Augustine Institute. Name: Julie Titus Placed: 12th Age: 31/32 (Estimate only; birthday isn’t online) First Call Outs: 0 Bottom 2: 1 Twitter Followers: 214 (@JustifiedJulie) Instagram Followers: 632 (@ninewestjewel) Julie Titus on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 Julie seemed to have a promising start, but during the third photo shoot in America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 3, her performance fell short of being excellent to the judges. Furthermore, at the panel, Julie admitted that the reason why she joined the show was to gain more exposure as a clothes designer rather than a model. The revelation ultimately led to her elimination. POST-TOP MODEL Julie is another one of those girls has kept a low profile since the show. She doesn’t have a big online foot print, except for her twitter and her instagram. She has done print work for Republic of Brown, and has appeared the Ray Billion Look Book. Sometime after the show, she worked as a North American sales manager for the Thursday Island clothing line. She has also mentored models for The Model Experience. In July 2015 (I think), she married her boyfriend, Bill Clifford, in California. Name: Kristi Grommet Placed: 11th Age: 31/32 (Estimate only; birthday isn’t online) First Call Outs: 0 Bottom 2: 1 Twitter Followers: N/A Instagram Followers: N/A Kristi Grommet on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 Kristi was memorable for coming into initial auditions wearing her senior prom dress, which was made from an American Flag. The fourth week in America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 3 had the models posing for Lee Jeans ads with hair extensions braided into their hair. Kristi Grommet may have had the looks and the body, but her lack of confidence during the challenge was what made Tyra and her fellow judges cut Kristi from the competition. POST-TOP MODEL After her stint on America’s Next Top Model, Kristi went on to model for In Touch Magazine, where she portrayed Miranda from the HBO series Sex and the City. She has done some test shots, but hasn’t really pursued modelling. In 2014, she directed a freshman/sophomore production of Arabian Nights. She is not currently represented by an agency. She doesn’t have a big footprint on the internet, since there was very little about her online. In 2006, her boyfriend Gunther proposed to her in Times Square in New York City. She currently has 2 sons and 1 daughter. Aside from that, not much is known about what she’s up to these days. Name: Jennipher Uralcher, née Frost Placed: 10th Age: 35 First Call Outs: 0 Bottom 2: 2 Twitter Followers: 1,420 (@Jennipherfrost) Instagram Followers: 945 (@j.urlacher) Jennipher Frost on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 Her time on America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 3 didn’t last very long as she was the fourth contestant eliminated by the judges. During her short stay in the competition, Jennipher frequently had confrontations with Eva Pigford because of the latter’s attitude. She also did not mix well with Ann Markley, with whom she almost engaged in a fight. Part of the makeover that Jennipher received from the show was a haircut, which she did not enjoy, as she was even seen crying after the hairstylist gave her a shoulder-length hairstyle. The fifth challenge for the season was to pose with roller skates on for a Dooney & Bourke accessories ad. The photos that were taken of her did not impress the judges at all, cutting her journey to the top short. POST-TOP MODEL Jennipher has done some print work, but is currently not represented by an agency. She had modeled for Magic Power Boats, Sex Symbol Jeans, Hot Boat, and Fiu Fiu. Sometime after the show, Jennipher became the food and beverage director of the SLS Beverly Hills. In 2012, Jennipher was the marketing manager at Andrea's in Las Vegas. On March 2016, Jennipher married Brian Urlacher, a former NFL linebacker. Their wedding was featured on the cover of Sports Entertainment Today. She is a step-mom to 3 children (from Brian’s former relationship): 2 daughters (Pam and Riley) and a son (Kennedy). Aside from this, not much is known regarding what else she does. Name: Kelle Jacob Placed: 9th Age: 32/33 (Estimate only; birthday isn’t online) First Call Outs: 0 Bottom 2: 3 Twitter Followers: 190 (@KelleJ) Instagram Followers: 682 (@kellejacob) Kelle Jacob on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 Kelle was sent to the bottom two with Ann Markley during the sixth week of America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 3. Although Tyra criticized them both for not bringing their great personalities into their pictures, the judges decided to take out Kelle, believing that she had less potential as a model. After being eliminated, Kelle remarked that she’ll try hard to build her career on her own, but did not seem overly optimistic. During the show, she won one challenge where the girls had to pose as mannequins in a La Perla store window. POST-TOP MODEL After her appearance on the show, Kelle Jacob was in Source Magazine and had a cover of Eminence Magazine. Kelle has modeled for designers and brands such as College Fashionista. After the show, she attended Hunter College in NYC where she pursued her bachelor’s degree in media (with a minor in english). She has been featured in a series of documentaries about undecided voters in the 2008 presidential democrat primaries for the NY Times. She is currently not represented by an agency. She is currently a member of the Global Marketing and Millennial Innovation Team at Estée Lauder. Name: Cassie James, née Grisham (Bottom left) Placed: 8th Age: 31/32 (Estimate only; birthday isn’t online) First Call Outs: 1 Bottom 2: 1 Twitter Followers: N/A Instagram Followers: 7 (@cassiegjames) Cassie Grisham on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 On America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 3, it was revealed that Cassie was suffering from bulimia. Tyra offered to give her counseling, but she refused it, choosing to deal with the condition on her own. However, it was not Cassie’s condition that made her the sixth person to be eliminated from the competition. Rather it was the lack of “fierceness” in her photos and her apparent disinterest that drove the judges to send Cassie home. POST-TOP MODEL Since the show, Cassie has graduated college in Oklahoma and has done some modeling work including a bridal shot. She was married in February of 2009.Not much else is known about Cassie after Top Model. She has no twitter, her instagram is private and most likely unused, and her fan page on facebook hasn’t been updated in years. Luckily, I found her husband’s facebook and it looks like the couple has 2 children, a boy and a girl. Name: Toccara Jones Placed: 7th Age: 36 First Call Outs: 1 Bottom 2: 2 Twitter Followers:124k (@iamTOCCARA) Instagram Followers: 139k (@iamtoccarajones) Toccara Jones on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 She was the twelfth finalist selected for Cycle 3, she won "Covergirl of the Week" four consecutive times though was never placed above fourth and was the eighth contestant eliminated. She was voted as one of the most memorable contestants by AOL Entertainment. POST-TOP MODEL She has been on the covers of Be, Essence, The Next Level Magazine (November 2005), Black Men Magazine, Black Hair Magazine, Braids & Beauty Magazine, King Magazine (February/March 2006, March/April 2006, and May 2008), Queen Sized Magazine, the October 2011 issue of Plus Model Magazine, Evolve Magazine, Rolling Out Magazine, and Sheen Magazine. She also appeared in the December 2008 issue of Ebony Magazine, Jet Magazine, Fashizblack Magazine, Kontrol Magazine, PrimeTyme Magazine, and HypeHair Magazine. She was photographed by Steven Meisel for the July 2008, All black issue of Vogue Italia and had a 14-page spread in the Magazine. The “Black Issue” featured significant past and current black models in response to the “black out” of black models preventing them from getting hired for print and runway jobs. Toccara has modeled for Ashley Stewart, Star Collection, Avon, Torrid, New York and Company, JCPenny, Target, Essence Magazine, Vibe Magazine, Lady Hennessey, Traci Lynn Jewelry, Evans, Qristyl Frazier Designs, The First Impression Collection, Ashley Stewart's Urban Chic Collection Fall 2010, and Smooth Magazine. Her runway shows include Hot 97’s Third Annual Full Frontal Hip hop Fashion Show, Luxe & Romance Fall 2005, BET Presents: Rip The Runway 2, Elle Girl presents Dare To Be You: Wal-Mart Meets America’s Next Top Models 2005 and Alice & Olivia Fall 2006. She was also selected to be part of the 2007 Rocawear “I Will Not Lose” campaign, representing the Rocawear plus-size line for full-figured females. Like other ANTM alum, Toccara has ventured into both hosting and acting. She has co-hosted an episode of 106 & Park. She was a correspondent for The Black Carpet and a co-host on the game show Take the Cake, both for the BET network. In 2006, Jones appeared in another reality show for VH1, Celebrity Paranormal Project. In 2008, Jones was a competitor on the second season of the VH1 series Celebrity Fit Club. Jones later appeared on Celebrity Fit Club: Boot Camp, which pitted celebrities from past seasons up against new celebrities. She ended the show weighing in at 166 pounds, surpassing her weight-loss goal by 7 pounds. She has released her own workout DVD called Toccara's Fabulous Work-Out for Real Size Women. In 2011, Jones starred in the second season of the reality series The Ultimate Merger. She made an appearance in Trina's music video for the song "I Got a Thang for You". She participated in a 2009 national tour of The Vagina Monologues with an all-black cast. She also made an appearance in the 2012 movie Think Like A Man. Recently, Toccara has just launched her new lingerie line, Toccara Jones Intimate Apparel. Name: Nicole Borud Placed: 6th Age: 33/34 (Estimate only; birthday isn’t online) First Call Outs: 1 Bottom 2: 1 Twitter Followers: 134 (@EcoBunny) Instagram Followers: 363 (@elocinjay) Nicole Borud on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 For the ninth week of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 3, the remaining girls, including Nicole, were flown to Tokyo in order to shoot a Japanese commercial for Campbell’s Soup. Although all the girls had a difficult time, most especially with learning their lines (which were in Japanese), it was Nicole whom the judges felt did not come through the commercial enough, thus making her the eight contestant to be sent home. POST-TOP MODEL Some time after being eliminated from the show, Nicole decided to relocate to San Clemente, California. Nicole did not pursue modeling; instead, she has pursued acting. However, I haven’t found anything from her (acting or modeling wise). Her instagram, which is her most active social media platform, doesn’t show us much about her. Her feed has a lot of selfies, her dog, and some of her other interests. It seems she has moved back home to North Dakota. A quick LinkedIn search shows that she works as an Assistant Manager for The Buckle Inc. Previous job experiences post-ANTM show that she worked for Victoria’s Secret as a Visual Merchandising Manager and Sears as Assistant Manager - Softlines. Name: Norelle Griffith, née Van Herk Placed: 5th Age: 33 (Estimate only; birthday isn’t online) First Call Outs: 0 Bottom 2: 1 Twitter Followers: 36 (@NorelleGriffith) Instagram Followers: 509 (@norelle_griffith) Norelle Van Herk on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 As a finalist on America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 3, Norelle was the only competitor among the fourteen girls who came into the competition with braces on her teeth. Her braces were removed as a part of her makeover for the show. Although her overall performance was impressive, her blunders in the Tokyo photo shoot and her difficulty walking on the runway were what compelled the judges to make Norelle the ninth contestant to be eliminated. Her photo shoot for T-Mobile went well, but was not well enough to keep her on the show for another week. During her stint on ANTM, Norelle won a make-up challenge featured during the show’s third episode. POST-TOP MODEL Norelle was able to attain considerable success as a model after her appearance on America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 3. She received contracts from NOUS models and Dream Models in Asia, and working with these agencies were beneficial as she was able to book numerous advertisements. She has done print work for Sisters Magazine, Yes! Magazine, Sudden Weekly, and Goat Boutique. Norelle has also appeared on the TV show One on One. However, Norelle eventually decided to leave the fashion industry temporarily in order to pursue her education. Sometime after the show, Norelle got married to Dave Griffith and now has 2 beautiful kids; 2 sons and a daughter. Not much is know about what happened to her after she left the industry. Name: Ann Branca, née Markley Placed: 4th Age:34 First Call Outs: 1 Bottom 2: 4 Twitter Followers: 995 (@annalainamarks) Instagram Followers: 11.8k (@annalainamarks) Ann Markley on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 Ann came close to making it to the Top 3 of America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 3, but was the tenth contestant eliminated from the show. During her stay in the competition, her athletic build prompted supermodel judge Janice Dickinson to bless her with the nickname, “Ann, The Man.” The judges finally gave in to Ann’s inability to produce strong and impressive photographs after the tenth photo shoot, despite Ann’s consistently strong performances on the runway. POST-TOP MODEL After her appearance on the show, Ann became highly successful as a model in the fashion industry. Going by the name Annalaina Marks, she was able to get a contract from three divisions of Elite Model Management, one of which is in Milan. She also obtained a contract from MC2, and has done extensive modeling work for Cover, Ford Fusion, ElleGirl Magazine, Gioia Magazine, Joie, Rojas, Heatherette, Nuala, ShopCaravan.com, Glamour Italia Magazine, the October and November 2005 editions of GQ Magazine, Accessories Magazine, Knit ‘N Style, First Magazine, Fashion Washington, Eyecare Business, Manhattan Bride, InStyle, Health Magazine, Marie Claire U.K., Shape Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, I Am Water Polo, Charleston Magazine, Fitness Magazine, Women’s Health, Burt’s Bees, Clairol, Beyond Beyond Magazine, Jay Manuel Beauty, Charleston Weddings, Rafaella Fit Your Shape campaign, Vogue Knitting, Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine, Walgreens, Bravado Designs, Target, L’Oreal, Dutch Cosmopolitan Magazine, Free People Magazine, Ray Ban, People Tree, Jimmy Bruch, The John Frieda Collection, Athleta, Champion, Miraclebody, Jones New York, Red Hearts Yarn, Adrianna Papell, LIJA Style, Spring 2014 Collection, Land's End Holiday 2014 Catalogue, Thyme Maternity, Target Maternity, Old Navy Maternity, Capezio 2014 catalogue, Sophia Tolli 2011 Bridal Collection, Lafayette 148 New York, SiO Beauty, KN Karen Neuburger, Lord & Taylor, and Zink Magazine. Moreover, Ann has graced the covers of Philadelphia Style Magazine and Washington, D.C. Style Magazine, and has walked the runway at Ellegirl presents Dare To Be You: Wal-Mart Meets America’s Next Top Models 2005, Alice and Olivia Fall 2006, Kara Saun Fall/Winter 2005, Richard TyleDelta Fall/Winter 2005, Harmon Fall/Winter 2005, Marc Bouwer Fall/Winter 2005, Cynthia Rowley Fall/Winter 2005, and Nicole Miller Fall/Winter 2005. During The 57th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Ann and America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 4 winner, Naima Mora, worked as the ceremony’s trophy girls. Since the show, Ann graced the cover of Bruce J. Nadler, M.D.’s novel, “The Nip Tuck Workout: Exercise through the Eyes of a Plastic Surgeon.” Like other ANTM alumni, Ann has branched into acting. Throughout the years, Ann has appeared in a number of acting projects including Project Runway, Sex, Love & Secrets, Made of Honor, Gossip Girl, Kings, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Bang, Choose, Lights Out, Blue Bloods, The Courier, Person of Interest, The Ones You Love, Delusions of Guinevere, The Good Wife, Club Life, and The Breaks.Ann has also appeared in a commercial for Wheat Thins and Travelocity. In 2016, she appeared in a short for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Ann has previously worked with Elite (New York), Elite Milano, Front Management (Miami), Images Management (New York), Model Management (Hamburg), and MC2 Model Management (Karin Models). Currently, Ann is signed with Wilhelmina New York (S Women’s Division), Wilhelmina Los Angeles (Women’s Division), Wilhelmina Miami (Fashion Women’s Division), Michael Howard Studios, and Nevs Model Agency (London) (Women Main Board). Ann got married in February 2013. Sometime in 2016, Ann gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Name: Amanda Swafford Placed: 3rd Age: 39 First Call Outs: 4 Bottom 2: 1 Twitter Followers: 3 (@amanda_swafford) Instagram Followers: 2953 (@amandaswafford) Amanda Swafford on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 During Cycle 3, the judges were amazed by her photos, especially the un-retouched beauty shot that she took during the third week of the competition. When she went on her go sees in Japan, she was told that she was too old by one of the designers. She participated in the finale along with winner Eva Pigford and Yaya Da Costa, but Amanda was eliminated when she and Eva were in the bottom 2. The judges had a difficult time deciding whom to send home, as all three contestants had strong CoverGirl photos, and all 3 were considered strong contenders, but in the end, it was Amanda. One of the judges, Janice Dickinson, was a dissenting voice on the judging panel, saying, “I love you!” to Swafford when she was eliminated. POST-TOP MODEL Amanda has appeared on the covers of Felt It! Stitch It! Fabulous! Magazine, Bliss for Bride Magazine, and Access Magazine, and has modeled for Levi’s Jeans, Lacy Little Knits, The Austin Chronicle, Verve Magazine, ELLEmemoir, Shutterbug Magazine, Grove Arcade, Recyclone Designs, Royal Peasantry, Serenity + Scott 2013, The Beading Butterfly, Liz White Designs/Custom Couture, Serenity + Scott Spring 2015 collection, and WEBS. Amanda has walked the runway for ELLEgirl Presents: Dare To Be You. She has also appeared in shorts such as Worst-Case Scenario (which she co-wrote) and Lullaby. Since the show, Amanda has signed with Storm Model Management in New York City and Acclaim Talent Agency. Her FMD page lists Storm Models London as her current agency. According to a close friend, her retinitis pigmentosa has caused extreme difficulty to see in low lighting, contrary rumors that she has since gone completely blind. Amanda currently works as an aesthetic/style guru for Royal Peasantry. On the show, she was married but has since separate from the man. She has a son, Eli (who is a current high school freshman), with her previous husband. She is currently in a relationship with a new man. In October 25, she came out on her facebook to say she was drugged the night before, while she was attending one of her husband’s show. Name: Yaya DaCosta Placed: 2nd Age: 34 (will turn 35 on Nov 15th) First Call Outs: 2 Bottom 2: 1 Twitter Followers: 29.8k (@yayadacosta) Instagram Followers: 172k (@yayadacosta) Yaya DaCosta on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 Yaya DaCosta was a contestant on Cycle 3 of America’s Next Top Model, where she came in second to Eva Pigford. On the show, Yaya showed insecurity regarding her skin, as she was still experiencing breakouts past puberty. While on the show, Yaya won 5 straight challenges (The race up the flight of stairs, the Go-Sees, The Red Carpet interview, The Acting challenge, and The Tea Ceremony. On the eigth episode (“The Girl Who Is Panic-Stricken”), the models were asked to choose a hat as part of their judging test. Yaya chose the cowboy hat, which surprised everyone since Yaya was the model who was proud of her african heritage. When asked why she did not choose the African hat, she claimed that she does not want to be a cliché. She claimed that the hat was made of a very artificial, very cheap kente. During the ninth episode (“The Girls Meet Taye Diggs”), during the judging session, the girls were set a test in which they had to read a commercial and eat umeboshi. Yaya chose to spit her umeboshi almost immediately after putting it in her mouth, which the judges said came across as very disrespectful to the client (if this were to happen in the real world). POST-TOP MODEL After finishing in second place in America’s Next Top Model, where she is considered one of the most memorable contestants, DaCosta went on to a successful career. She has modeled for Target, Olay, CharmaineLouise, DJU Clothing Company, Venus Clothing, Gap, Tom Ford’s A/W 2014 Collection, Isaac Mizrahi, Kohl’s, Seven Magazine, Interview Magazine, Essence Magazine, Hollywood Life Magazine, Jewel Magazine, COED Magazine, I Style Magazine, Elle Girl Presents Dare To Be You: Wal-Mart Meets America’s Next Top Model, Marc Bouwer Fall 2005, Seda, Garnier Fructis, Lincoln Townhouse, Glamour Magazine, Glamour Magazine Italy, Radioshack, Dr. Scholl’s, Sally Beauty Supply Magazine, Vibe Magazine, Venus, Terrazine Magazine, Voice of Diversity, The New York Post, Style Rocks Fashion Show (2005), Vogue Australia, Hype Hair Magazine, Chicago Sun-Times Splash, New York Magazine, Malibu Magazine, and Sephora. In 2010, she appeared in American Vogue, Esquire, L'Officiel and on the cover of W. In addition to modeling, Yaya is also acting and has in appeared in commercials for Radioshack and Garnier Fructis. She recently appeared in the movie Take the Lead with Antonio Banderas. She has also did modeling for Target and appeared in a few rap music videos (Chingy’s Pullin’ Me Back, Jay-Z’s Roc Boys, Raphael Saadiq’s Good Man. DaCosta began acting in 2005 after having a small role in an episode of Eve where she portrayed a character named Miss Jenkins. Her television credits include Cassandra Foster on All My Children, Vanessa on Racing For Time, Nico Slater on Ugly Betty, Audrina on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Brooke Sullivan on Mercy, Amber on Army Wives, Holly Bennett on Body of Proof, Anita on House, Amy on Dark Horse, Princess Kemi of Nigeria on The Simpsons, and currently as April Sexton on Chicago Fire and Chicago Med. DaCosta exited the role on All My Children some time in August 2008, less than four months after joining the show, to join the cast of “The First Breeze of Summer” on Broadway. 2006 saw Yaya’s film debut in the film Take the Lead as LaRhette. She has also appeared in 2007’s Honeydripper as China Doll and in 2009’s Messenger as Monica Washington. In 2010 DaCosta had supporting roles in the films The Kids Are All Right (as Tanya) and Tron: Legacy (as Siren). In 2013 she also appeared as Carol in the film The Butler, starring Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. Other movie credits include In Time, The Shanghai Hotel, Whole Lotta Sole, Mother of George, Big Words, And So It Goes, Bolden!, and The Nice Guys. In 2015, Yaya portrayed Whitney Houston in the self titled Biopic Whitney, directed by Angela Bassett. She is currently signed to Models 1 London and Ford Models New York. On June 26, 2012, DaCosta married independent movie producer and director Joshua Bee Alafia. She gave birth to the couple's first child, a son named Sankara, in September 2013. The couple parted ways in 2014. Name: Eva Marcille Placed: 1st Age: 33 First Call Outs: 2 Bottom 2: 2 Twitter Followers: 259k (@EvaMarcille) Instagram Followers: 1.7m (@evamarcille) Eva Marcille on IMDB ANTM CYCLE 3 Eva was the winner of the third cycle of America's Next Top Model, beating fellow contestants Yaya Da Costa and Amanda Swafford. Her prizes included a CoverGirl cosmetics contract, a spread in Elle, and a modeling contract with Ford Models. During the show, Eva won 2 challenges: The Heatherette runway show and the go-sees in Japan. POST-TOP MODEL Eva has appeared on the cover of Brides Noir, Women’s Health and Fitness (May 2005), King Magazine (June 2005), IONA (November 2005), Green Magazine, Obvious Magazine, Urban Lux Magazine, Kontrol Magazine, Sheen Magazine, HypeHair Magazine, and Essence Magazine. Her other modeling credits include CoverGirl, DKNY, Samsung, Red by Marc Ecko, Jewel magazine, In Touch Weekly magazine (June 2005), King magazine (November 2005), Black Girls Rule!, Vibe Vixen, Magazine, Today’s Black Woman Magazine, Magazine, UNleashed magazine, Star Magazine, Elle, Elle Girl, ForTrayvon.org, Danskin, Active Imprints, Traci Lynn Jewelry, Koshie O Clothing, Ciroc Vodka, Phlaunt Hair, Applebottoms,Jasmine Ni'Cole Luxury Perucas, Shiekh Shoes, Lerner Catalog, UrbanSkinRx, Avon, and Rolling Out. Eva’s runway shows include the Marc Bouwer Fall 2005, Elle Girl presents Dare To Be You: Wal-Mart Meets America’s Next Top Model 2005, Gharani Strok Fall 2005, Deborah Lindquist Spring 2006, Naqada Spring 2006, 8th Annual ‘Models of Perfection’ Show 2006, and L.A. Fashion Week’s Monarchy Collection Fall 2007. Marcille has guest-starred on several series on UPN and The CW Network. Her guest-star credits include two episodes of Kevin Hill, one episode of Smallville, one episode of Everybody Hates Chris, and one episode of The Game as herself. Marcille has also appeared on Tyler Perry's House of Payne. In addition, Marcille hosted BET J's reality show My Model Looks Better Than Your Model, as well as Rip the Runway on BET. In 2005, Marcille appeared in a first-season episode of the MTV improv show Nick Cannon Presents Wild 'N Out. In 2008 she joined the cast of The Young and the Restless as a young mother named Tyra Hamilton. After a few months, her character, who was planned to be temporary was made permanent. She appeared in a June 2009 episode of the BET prank show Played by Fame, where contestants have nightmarish dates with celebrities. She also appeared on The Assistants as Alicia James. In 2010, Eva hosted the first season of the Oxygen reality series Hair Battle Spectacular. In 2011, Eva joined the cast of the tv series Let’s Stay Together. 2013 saw Eva’s appearance on the reality show Real Husbands of Hollywood. In 2014, Eva has also appeared on For the Love of Lockwood and FNL’s Model Monday. In 2015, Marcille starred as Tara on the tv series Born Again Virgin, appeared on tv mini series For the Love of Lockwood Too. In February 2016 she stars in a reality series called About The Business. Currently, she is competing on the VH1’s Scared Famous and on the tv series Hip Hop Squares. Eva’s film credits include 24 Hour Love, The Walk, Crossover, The Boys and Girls Guide to Getting Down, Premium, Note To Self, If You Really Love Me, The Fright Night Files, Fear Files, Sister Code, and I Think I Love My Wife. In 2017, Eva also appeared in Busted and Miss Me This Christmas. Furthermore, she has appeared in several music videos, including "Baby" by Angie Stone (featuring Betty Wright), 50 Cent's "I Get Money" and Jamie Foxx's "DJ Play a Love Song". She is also mentioned in Lil' Kim's song, "I Know You See Me" and Missy Elliott's "On & On".In August 2013, Marcille appeared in the video clip "J'accélère (I accelerate)" by French rapper Rohff. Eva has been signed to L.A. Models, Uber-Warning Models, and now Slamm Management - Atlanta. She started her own eyewear company, First Ave Eyewear. In July 2006, Marcille started dating Tyler Perry's House of Payne star Lance Gross. They got engaged on December 24, 2008 and split up in March 2010. She also dated rapper Flo Rida from 2010 to 2012. Since January 2013, she has been dating singer-songwriter Kevin McCall. Marcille gave birth to her first child, and McCall's second daughter; Marley Rae McCall on January 31, 2014. They ended their relationship in early 2015.
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