20 Minutes Till Dawn is a rogue-like shoot ‘em up arcade adventure from Erabit Studios, released just a few months back. As a run-and-gun 8-bit styled survival adventure of sorts, 20 Minutes Till Dawn offers a quick and relatively simple yet adrenaline-pumping experience that can be enjoyed by just about anyone. From the title itself, 20 Minutes Till Dawn is comparable to the climax of conventional action horror films where the protagonist must face an almost endless horde of monsters as a final impediment towards surviving the night.
For the uninitiated when it comes to rogue-like adventures, 20 Minutes Till Dawn lets you amass various random buffs throughout your adventure with each new level gained and, while each one makes you stronger as your run progresses, all the buffs along with your level will be gone at the end of your run, whether you make it all the way through dawn or not. Although you only basically play within the same confined level, each run is guaranteed to provide a new experience, especially considering the random set of buffs you choose to obtain.
20 Minutes Till Dawn has very simple and straightforward game controls and mechanics, making it easy for just about anyone to pick up and enjoy. However, the challenge it provides within each run steadily grows over time, making it a type of adventure that is easy to learn yet hard to master. Succeeding runs may not necessarily yield better results, but there are plenty of upgrades to help you secure better chances in doing so.
If you have just started diving into the world of 20 Minutes Till Dawn, then we have you covered as our Beginner’s Guide comes with tips, tricks and strategies to dominate the monster hordes and survive till dawn!
1. Master The Basics
20 Minutes Till Dawn has simple gameplay and controls but it is not completely devoid of mechanics to learn and some content to peek into. Regardless of your performance in each run, you will almost always end it earning some currency. Currency can be used for a wide variety of purchases including extra characters, extra weapons, and runes to strengthen your characters.
It will certainly take a lot of grinding and replays to have enough currency to purchase everything but while the road to travel may be challenging, it will likewise be entertaining. The rogue-like aspect of 20 Minutes Till Dawn revolving around resetting levels and talents earned within each session is not at all discouraging as each session you dive into takes you closer to unlocking something new.
As much as 20 Minutes Till Dawn makes it very tempting for everyone to hit that “Play” button and start decimating hordes of monsters, we recommend peeking into the available talents first as well as other vital information. On the title screen, click on “Talent” first and browse through the available ones you can get with each new level you reach while playing.
The Normal Talents are the ones you can easily get with every new level you reach. Immediately after leveling up, you will get to choose 1 of 5 random available talents. Knowing what each one does here helps you choose the right ones you need in combat and this information will be known when you highlight the talent icons as you level up as well.
In the Normal Talents Page, though, you will know what other skills become unlocked after claiming one so you can strategize better on your character’s build. For example, claiming the Dragon Egg talent will make both Aged Dragon and Trained Dragon available in subsequent level ups and getting either one will make Dragon Bond available.
Under the Advanced Talents tab, unique talents like Death Rounds and Frost Fire can only be acquired if you have obtained both of the prerequisite talents. This means that in order for Death Rounds to become available as a claimable talent from levelling up, you need to obtain both Reaper Rounds and Light Bullets first.
Ultimate Talents are undoubtedly strong and difficult to obtain as these will only randomly spawn from chests that boss enemies drop. These Tomes offer tremendous boosts but will always come with some debuff. As an example, Tome of Speed increases Movement Speed by 50% but reduces your Max HP by 1.
Finally, there are character-exclusive talents as well that you can claim from boss drops. Each character has 3 unique exclusive talents and, unlike ultimate talents or tomes, do not necessarily carry any drawbacks. These are definitely among the best talents to have in any run.
Beyond talents that reset with every new run, the currency you earn with each kill you make and the length of time you survived is a very useful and much needed commodity. These blood coins of sorts are used to unlock new characters and weapons as well as used to purchase runes. Runes have permanent effects and applies to every character you use. Runes are divided into 2 groups and 4 tiers and you can choose to equip one rune per tier and per group for a total of 8 runes from the 24 unlockable ones.
2. Get To Know Each Character
20 Minutes Till Dawn starts you off with only Shana as the only playable character. There are currently 6 characters to unlock, though, which comes with their own unique attributes and skills. Although some of the unlockable characters only require a few sessions of grinding, it is best to properly plan your purchases to ensure that you can make progress faster and more efficiently.
With regard to the characters, having a solid enough idea of how each one works can help you determine which one works best for you. Once you have chosen and unlocked your favorite heroine, you can focus more on purchasing different guns and runes to improve your succeeding runs.
Just because Shana is the starting character does not make her lag behind others in terms of value. Shana is actually among our favorites considering her innate ability to reroll upgrades once per level. Each new level reached lets you choose 1 from among 5 different upgrade buffs to have. There will certainly be times when more than 1 choice will stand out for you but having none of the available choices good enough for your current needs can happen as well. In these cases, Shana’s reroll ability is a welcomed treat.
Shana’s exclusive talents include Specialize, which triples the effect of the next upgrade you take; Ascension, which requires you to collect 3 Halo Pieces as upgrade choices and lets you reacquire her halo; and Quick Learner, which can boost her experience gain by 40%.
Diamond is the toughest heroine there is and despite lacking any unique special skills, she starts off with a massive HP of 7. For beginners, what may seem to be a more attractive choice of character to command are the ones that have more offense. However, runes and abilities equally provide augmentations for both offense and defense. Given that 20 Minutes Till Dawn is a survival game, traits that swerve more towards defense are equally valuable.
For exclusive talents, Diamond has Strong Will, which gives her Piercing +2 and Knockback +25% whenever her HP is at or below its max amount; Berserk, which boosts Fire Rate and Reload Rate by 10% permanently with each hit she takes; and Bulk Up, which increases Bullet Damage and Bullet Size by 15% permanently whenever she heals.
With a name like Spark, you would certainly expect her to be among the more offensive heroines in 20 Minutes Till Dawn. Spark starts off with only 3 HP but her bullets all have a 50% chance to call down Lightning on impact for 5 damage.
Spark’s exclusive talents include Electrical Fire, enabling her Lightning Strikes to inflict Burn Damage equal to 3 per second; Charged Up, which enables every third lightning strike to deal double damage and generate 1 ammo; and Electro Affinity, which reduces her Bullet Damage by 25% but boosts Lightning Damage by 50%.
Hina’s face cover can leave an impression of a ninja type character and most might guess it correctly since she comes with a Shadow Clone ability just like Naruto. Tapping on her skill button at the right side of the screen lets her dash for a short distance and summon a shadow clone that attacks nearby enemies for damage equal to her Bullet Damage.
Hina’s exclusive talents include Enhanced Shadow, boosting her Summon Damage by 25% and lets her Shadow Clone attack 3x faster; Hidden Blade, which makes her invincible while dashing and gives her dash damage equal to her bullet damage; and Maneuver, which automatically reloads her gun with each dash.
If there is a lightning elemental specialist like Spark, then you can certainly expect a fire elemental heroine as well. Scarlet specializes in Burn Damage and on every third shot, she unleashes a wave of fire that inflicts Burn on enemies for 3 damage per second.
Scarlet’s exclusive talents include Pyromaniac, giving her a 10% increase in Fire Rate every time she inflicts Burn on an enemy but resets with each reload; Pyro Affinity, which reduces Bullet Damage by 25% but boosts Burn Damage by 67%; and Lasting Flame; extending Burn duration by twice as long.
Abby is likewise one of those characters built more towards offense. However, she does not necessarily specialize in any elemental effects and only capitalizes on her guns as well as her move speed. Using her skill unloads all of her remaining ammo in a salvo of bullets across random directions.
Abby’s exclusive talents include Bullet Storm, which reduces her Fire Rate by 31% but grants her a +2 Projectile as well as a +40 Spread; Make It Rain, which doubles her Fire Rate while using her special skill; and Whirlwind, which increases Move Speed and Reload Rate by 35% for 2 seconds after reloading.
Finally for now, Lilith is a character that specializes more on summoning and capitalizes mainly on spirit allies to take on hordes of enemies. Killing an enemy lets her summon a spirit that chases an enemy and deals 8 damage when it hits them.
For her exclusive talents, Lilith has Necrophile, which gives her a 35% increase in Movement Speed for 1 second with each kill; Necromancer, which boosts Summon Damage by 20% and lets her summon a spirit when enemies are killed; and Undead Army, which further boosts Summon Damage and Summon Attack Speed by 35%.
We really cannot say that any of the above characters are better or worse than their counterparts considering everything. The best character to choose in 20 Minutes Till Dawn should definitely depend on your preferred play style. Likewise, simply deciding on a character is just a first step as you would naturally want to align selected talents and rune investments on each character’s unique traits and skills.
3. Begin With A Build In Mind
Although it is always best to be able to test each character out before you decide on which one should become your main character, the information we outlined above should at the very least provide you sufficient information to have a good enough idea of how each one plays, considering their strengths and limitations. With that, and given the various talents, weapons, and runes to consider, you should begin to plan on a build for your character and picking the right gun for your character is among the steps to take.
Just like how we consider each character to be fairly equal with one another, we can consider the different weapons to be of equal value as well. The Revolver might easily be dismissed as a mere starting weapon that you can simply stop using once you can afford any other weapon but its overall balanced stat is pretty decent. As basic as it comes, the Revolver is not just the easiest weapon to handle for beginners but it is also a viable weapon for experienced and advanced players.
At 12 damage per bullet and 4 projectiles per shot, the shotgun certainly is a fitting weapon if you want multiple weapon kills at a time. The shotgun, however, has the shortest range and reloading every 2 shots can be a precursor to being overwhelmed if you cannot make a lot of kills fast.
Dual SMGs look as cool as any dual wield weapon should and while its damage is among the lowest with only 4 per bullet, a max ammo of 32 and a decent fire rate more than makes up for the seemingly low damage outputs. SMGs have the longest reload time at 2.5 seconds and upgrades for guns that you obtain will apply separately for each gun.
Surprisingly enough, the Crossbow sports one of the highest damage per projectile at 30. It only has 1 ammo but has the same fire rate and reload time as the revolver. What makes it even more unique is that bullet damage increases when you stand still and resets every time you move.
The Flame Cannon, at first glance, seems to have the lowest damage output with only 3 damage per bullet. However, having the Flame Cannon equipped lets you burn enemies for 3 damage per second. Ammo count is great at 12 but reload time lags a little behind at 1.4 seconds.
Often considered as a special weapon in numerous games, the Grenade Launcher in 20 Minutes Till Dawn is as equally powerful and dangerous. Explosive grenades deal 45 damage in a small area and the Grenade Launcher has a maximum of 6 ammo by default. The biggest drawback with this weapon is that the grenade explosions can also hurt you.
Finally, the Batgun strays from the usual array of conventional weapons in that it shoots out bats that chase down enemies. On top of that, bats are considered as both bullets and summons, which means that talents and runes that increase either one will both apply to this weapon. Starting damage is only 6 and max ammo is 12 with 2 projectiles.
Although you can mix and match characters and weapons as you please, some can work much better paired with the right character. Additionally, some of the different talents you pick can have a variety of impact based on the type of weapon you choose so considering the set of basic and advanced talents to pick up even before starting a run becomes more important with guns in consideration.
4. Choose Your Rune Upgrades Wisely
Characters, guns, and runes become permanently available for you to utilize once you unlock them. While characters and guns only require one-time payment, though, runes will prove to be the most challenging set of enhancements to unlock considering that there are 24 different runes and a max level of 5 for each one. Reaching a certain rune level is required to unlock the next tier and this mechanic applies separately to the Sword and Shield types.
Just like characters and guns, we cannot really consider any specific rune within the same tier to be better than the rest. However, while each rune comes with its own obvious benefits, its applicability and overall value depends on the character you use, along with your preferred weapon type and talent priorities. As such, it is best to consider planning ahead before you start investing in any of the runes as you would want to focus on specific types and rank them up to 5 to unlock the next tier.
For example, for the first tier of Sword type runes, Alacrity, Mysticism, and Power are all equally enticing and beneficial. Alacrity increases Fire Rate and Reload Rate by 2% per rank; Mysticism gives your bullets a 2% chance to inflict Burn or Freeze per Rank; and Power increases both Bullet Damage and Summon Damage by 2% per rank. Since you will only be able to equip 1 of these 3 at a time, you might as well rank up one of them to 5 and invest your remaining currency in other stuff. Power might be the best choice for Hina and Lilith who have summons, while Mysticism can be best utilized by Scarlett especially armed with a Flame Cannon.
Beyond attempting to sync your tier 1 rune choice with your top character, favorite weapon, and preferred talents, you should also consider aligning your rune choices from tier 1 through tier 4. For example, if you chose to capitalize on Freeze or Burn Damage and opted for Mysticism as your tier 1 rune, then the Elemental Barrage from the second tier is the obvious choice. This may have a requirement of inflicting Freeze or Burn 50 times first, but then it will give you a 50% increase in fire rate and reload rate for 1 second per rank afterwards.
Further down the line, Wild Magic gives a 5% chance per rank for Burn and Freeze effects to from killed enemies to spread to nearby enemies. Although there are no runes on the last tier that directly supports Burn or Freeze effects, Cadence seems to be the best choice. This rune makes every third shot have infinite piercing and that alone greatly complements having Burn or Freeze effects. The double bullet size and extra bullet damage of 20% per rank is a nice extra as well.
The Sword or attack runes are, of course, just half of the available set of runes to include in your planning. Keep in mind that a synergistic build does not only take into account damage capabilities as survival is a key principle to consider as well. Again, any of the Shield runes within the same tier have enticing and beneficial boosts but considering which from among them synergizes best with your build is something to determine beforehand.
5. Consider Running Around In Circles
20 Minutes Till Dawn starts you off facing only a handful of monsters that you can quickly eliminate even without having to move. In a quick turn of events, you will experience an exponential increase in enemies and will naturally have to consider relocating yourself for survival. While you can generally move at any direction in a practically endless world, killing monsters are just part of the means for you to survive the night.
As monsters ceaselessly increase in numbers, surviving the first minute simply through running and killing as many monsters as you can will not suffice. You will need to continuously grow stronger as time passes to prepare yourself for the bigger and continuously growing challenges ahead. Without any improvements on your character, the natural outcome is for monsters to overwhelm you and as they do, your chances of further survival grow smaller.
Every enemy you kill drops crystals that give you EXP and you need EXP to reach new levels and acquire talents. In this sense, you will want to grab as many of those crystals as possible and level up quickly to improve your character’s performance. Of course, this will be a challenging task if you will choose to take the monsters head on and grab each crystal as they drop. What will more likely happen is that you will eliminate monsters while moving away from them and leave their drops behind.
Given this typical scenario, what we recommend is for you to consider moving around in circles. As you miss initial opportunities to grab those EXP crystals, running in circles will almost guarantee that you will be able to grab them with little to no risk at a later time. This tactic does not necessarily mean that you will always just run around in circles. Rather, the idea we want to impart is to cycle around a limited area where you can get back to where the monsters you killed dropped EXP crystals that you can take.
For the most part, what we found most effective is basically pooling enemies in an area and eliminating them there. The as you move, a different area with plenty of EXP gems will be made as well and as you keep moving in a cyclical manner, you will naturally reach the initial area where there are EXP crystals to be gained. Of course, you are always free to break the cycle every once in a while if it becomes too challenging but at the very least make an attempt to re-establish it later on.
6. Eliminate Bosses For Chest Drops
20 Minutes Till Dawn actually makes it gameplay engaging enough even with just the starting monsters that home in on your location at the start of the challenge. Soon enough, though, more powerful creatures will join the fray and you will find yourself tangling with a variety of tougher creatures along with the exponentially increasing numbers of the initial ones.
While you will naturally want to eliminate the easiest ones to clear areas and give you more breathing space, we recommend hunting down boss monsters and eliminating them as soon as you can to have an easier time moving forward and also to get the random buff from the treasure chests that they drop. Basically, only the first 2 types of enemies are not considered as boss monsters, along with that thing that occasionally inhabit the trees.
The second type of mobile enemy, with its distinctive white color, actually provides more help than harm if you utilize them properly. Those enemies explode like grenade shells when killed, damaging all other monsters in close proximity. Finding them and killing them at the right places and times will be helpful for you as far as clearing small areas is concerned.
The third type of monster you will see counts as a mini-boss and will be much like a toughened up version of the starting monsters. As tough as they come, there really is nothing that much special you can expect from them in terms of speed and ability so it is relatively easy to dispose of them without putting yourself much at risk. Focusing your aim on them can be tricky and you can never afford to do so for a long period of time.
Eliminating the tough monster as quickly as you can does not necessarily mean disregarding everything else around you. What you would want is to only focus fire when opportunities present themselves as you will continuously need to ensure that the numbers of the cannon fodders do not swarm and overwhelm you. This enemy will drop a chest that can grant you a random exclusive talent and acquiring any exclusive talent tremendously boosts your heroine’s performance.
What we consider the be the big bad is the quadruped flaming beast that keeps charging at you. When this monster appears, an energy barrier will surround you and constrain you to a very limited space, much like being placed in a cage match. Touching the barrier will damage you and knock you back while enemies, including the boss, can just pass through it without any kind of trouble.
As hard as it seems, the boss enemy will charge at your last location, so simply moving sideways from its direction as soon as it stands ready to pounce should keep you safe. This boss is tough to beat but the rewards you get will net you a random Ultimate Talent. As much as the drawbacks from these tomes is something you might initially frown upon, the buffs they provide make the rest of the survival run a lot easier, especially when the perks perfectly fit you build.
7. Stay Away From The Trees
One of the most basic gameplay mechanics in 20 Minutes Till Dawn is that your character will always aim for the closest enemy, even if they are not within your sight. More often than not, you will discover that your character will be aiming at a nearby tree and damage number may even continuously appear from it. It can be difficult to notice as a beginner, but you can never kill any of the trees in 20 Minutes Till Dawn.
Getting too close to the trees can damage you as it seems to be inhabited by a monster as well. That is not the only reason to steer away from it, though, as the bigger and more important reason is that it takes in bullets like a sponge, preventing you from damaging and eliminating all other targets within the immediate vicinity. Even if just a handful of bullets is aimed towards the nearby tree, its effects can be very disastrous especially if hordes of monsters start pouring in on your location.
At the start of the run, make it a habit to find a good starting area where there are less or zero trees. While it can be understood that you will need to constantly move throughout the time period provided to survive the onslaught of enemies, at the very least make those needed stops in open spaces as much as you can.
8. Take As Much Time As You Need When Choosing Talents
Even if you went on and planned your talent priorities before starting your run, 20 Minutes Till Dawn has a random system of providing you different sets of talents to choose from when you reach a new level. Although a limited set of starting talents available raises the chances of you getting the talent you want to have ahead of everything else, there is still a fair chance you will not have it in the selection.
Add that up with the adrenaline pumping heat of battle and you might feel the rush so much that you would not consider taking your time to choose the talent that best fits your desired build and as simple as this tip is, you should make it a habit to take as much time as you need to select the best talent from the 5 choices.
Beyond the intent of ensuring that you can grab the best talent from the available selection, this can also serve as your break to rest your eyes and hands if either one is getting tired. Surely enough, you may not likely break a sweat in the first 2 minutes of running and gunning across the level but a 10-minute or a full 20-minute run can be exhausting.
Likewise, 20 Minutes Till Dawn provides a quick “Try Again” option in case you failed to survive the run and, for the most part, you will likely be enticed to keep going especially if you do not want to lose your momentum or if you are raring to earn enough currency to make a purchase or upgrade. Once you have beaten a full 20-minute session and survived all the way till dawn, then you should know that that is only the beginning challenge level as 20 Minutes Till Dawn offers higher difficulty runs through its “Darkness” settings.
The same applies for when you pick up a pentagram or treasure chest from the boss monsters, you can take a few seconds or so and catch your breath before jumping back in on the action. Well, there is also the pause button at the upper right side of the screen you can use for emergencies.
While the 7 characters, 7 gun types, and the abundant talents and runes in 20 Minutes Till Dawn is more than enough to keep you engage in this survival adventure for countless hours, chances are that even more content will be added to the game in future updates.
For now, though, we feel that we have covered the basics thoroughly and this is where we will end our beginner’s guide. We hope that the simple explanations, tips, and strategies we shared will help you yield better results in succeeding runs and lead you towards surviving all the challenges and unlocking everything. If you have your own experiences and tricks to share, do not shy away from sharing any or all of them down in the comments!