Abby facing monsters. Art for 20 Minutes Till Dawn

My Favorite Steam Game of 2022 Is Also the Perfect Xmas Gift

Cute girls? Check. Incredibly difficult gameplay? Also check.

I played an astronomically high number of video games this year. Overwatch 2? Yes. Splatoon 3? You bet. Genshin Impact? Obviously. Valorant? I’m addicted. But over the summer, a little indie gem launched on Steam and stole my heart. It has pretty much everything I would ever want in a video game: Cute girls shooting big guns at eldritch monstrosities. A dream come true.

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20 Minutes Till Dawn is a roguelite action-horror game by developer flanne and publisher Erabit Studios. Choose from one of several women with their own unique power-ups, grab a gun of your choice, and get ready to kill an endless horde of horrific otherworldly monstrosities. On death, enemies drop XP, which you can collect to level up and grab an upgrade perk for your character. You’ll have to kill, collect, and level up fast. While the game only lasts 10 to 20 minutes (depending on your game mode), your opponents only get stronger as time goes on. It’s a fair bit challenging, but ridiculously fun.

It’s also relatively approachable to play when compared to similar action roguelite survival games like Vampire Survivors, as you can actually point and shoot at which enemies you’d like to kill. Innovative! However, the game’s health system is far less forgiving, so be prepared to shoot at and maneuver around your enemies like your life depends on it. Believe me, it does.

Admittedly, 20 Minutes Till Dawn mainly appeals to me because of its female character design. All 12 playable characters are women, and they’re also lovely. Flanne’s design here walks the perfect line between “cute girls being cute to look at” and “action horror heroes hellbent on fighting their way through Lovecraftian nightmares.” For example, here’s Diamond, the buff warrior that starts with a whopping 7 HP. She’s great for beginners.

Diamond, the buff woman from 20 Minutes Till Dawn.
Erabit Studios

Then there’s Dasher, who can even turn into a deer. Yes, a full blown deer. The pagan deergirl energy is a nice touch, and it really captures the “Xmas update” feeling flanne and Erabit were going for here when she was added earlier this week.

Dasher, the pagan-like deergirl, from 20 Minutes Till Dawn.
Erabit Studios

My personal favorite, however, is Hastur. Her special ability? Tentacles. She’s literally a tentacle girl. Oh, my dreams come true.

Hastur, a tentacle girl, from 20 Minutes Till Dawn.
Erabit Studios

20 Minutes Till Dawn is easy to learn but very, very hard to master. It’s also ridiculously affordable on Steam, at just $4.99 ($4.24 during the Steam Winter Sale through Jan. 5) to purchase. So yes, please go buy it, and please go buy it for your friends. It makes for a lovely holiday gift thanks to its low price, high replayability, and, yes, cute girls.

(Feature image: Erabit Studios)

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Ana Valens
Ana Valens (she/her) is a reporter specializing in queer internet culture, online censorship, and sex workers' rights. Her book "Tumblr Porn" details the rise and fall of Tumblr's LGBTQ-friendly 18+ world, and has been hailed by Autostraddle as "a special little love letter" to queer Tumblr's early history. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her ever-growing tarot collection.