20 Minutes Till Dawn Guide for Beginners – Tips and Tricks

It is no surprise that a game with this many potential builds can feel complicated to beginners. Each combination of the unique weapons, characters, and upgrades offered can produce a different result that can make players question which of them are any good.

This 20 Minutes Till Dawn Guide should give you all the information you need to get your first wins and find your favorite builds and rush through higher darkness levels with them.

General Tips

  • Focus on your build
  • Pick upgrades that work well with your weapon and character
  • Stay away from trees in the forest
  • Collect experience points as often as you can
  • Focus on AOE or ‘Area of effect’ damage in later stages
  • Learn each boss’s attack patterns

Crafting the Best Build in 20 Minutes Till Dawn

20 minutes till dawn

Creating a build that will take you through the late-game waves will require you to consider your character, weapon, and upgrade choices. You might have to try out a few different builds before you get it right.

Here are some of the best options to get you started.

The Best Characters

Most characters in 20 Minutes Till Dawn have a build/ setup that makes them viable options to win a round. However, a few characters have abilities that put them above the rest with how consistently they can make it through waves.

Shana is available at the start of the game and is a great character for builds that require consistent upgrades. Her ability to reroll them every time makes her a reliable option for this.

Scarlett works very well with Elemental builds and can be one of the higher damage-output characters in the game. Lightning-related buffs can put in a lot of work with this character. Pair her up with the Dual SMGs for some of the most broken combinations.

Abby is a great choice with certain niche weapons and buffs. She works particularly well with the Batgun and an elemental build. Frost, fire, and lighting upgrades paired with runes that benefit them should make this combination of the strongest builds for the first few levels of Darkness.

Play around with different characters and use them with various weapons and upgrade combinations. You never know when you will come across an overpowered build.

The Best Weapons

Most weapons need to be paired with the right characters, runes, and upgrades to be useful. However, it is hard to deny that some weapons have more potential than others.

The Shotgun is a great weapon to use with almost every character in the game. Its high damage and low ammo make it a viable base for various builds you can try out. A few upgrades to its range can make up for any weaknesses it has. The take aim upgrade is a good place to start.

If you want a down a quirkier route, the Dual SMGs can deal an insane amount of damage with the right build. Since both the guns you use get buffed individually, they have a chance to double their bonuses. As usual, an elemental damage build can do a lot of good with this weapon (Even enough to make up for its slower reload speed)

While the Revolver’s simplicity might make it seem a bit boring in comparison to all the other weapons in the game, it is also what makes this an incredibly versatile gun. Its high attack speed works well with almost every character. The double-shot upgrade should easily make up lack of AOE damage in the late game.

Even weapons like the Flame Cannon and the Grenade launcher that have niche uses are viable with the right builds, especially in early darkness levels don’t shy away from experimenting with them.

Picking the Right Upgrades

Just as with most other roguelikes, the upgrades you pick up during your game can make or break your run. Make sure that the upgrades you pick work well with your character and weapon.

Upgrades that promote freeze, burn, and lightning damage blend perfectly with runes, weapons, and characters that do the same. Similarly, bullet damage builds thrive on stat boosts related to them.

The Glare tree feels like a blessing during easier levels as it does a great job preventing enemies from getting near you. It is also a great form of crowd control, even toward the end of your run.  



20 Minutes Till Dawn has special powerups that can be acquired by picking a combination of certain upgrade trees. For example, picking up Electro Mastery and Fire Starter can give you access to the Explosion synergy which causes the burning enemies to blow up when hit with lightning.

You can find a list of all potential synergies in the pause menu. Use this list as a reference point while crafting your build so you can work towards the right buffs.



While understanding builds and improving your skill are great ways to push further while in the game, Runes (found through your character selection screen) add new abilities and stat boosts to all your characters – making them much stronger. These Runes are incredibly helpful in later levels and can completely change how effective certain builds are.

The runes that work best for you will depend on the kind of builds you like to run. The shield side focuses on defensive abilities while the sword section includes offensive ones. Tenacity and Momentum are great Sword runes for beginners. Alacrity and Close Combat make for a good offensive start.

If you find yourself gravitating toward elemental builds. Mysticism followed by Elemental Barrage is a great way to go. If you tend to pick up the Glare upgrade often, the increased vision range provided by Vigilance should do you a lot of good.

Movement and Shooting

Even the best builds in the game will not let you get through without any skill on your part. Fortunately, learning the mechanics of 20 minutes till dawn is not very difficult.

You can switch between a manual and auto aim by pressing the space bar. While manual control over where you shoot is ultimately more useful, do not be afraid to go automatic if your build is not affected by it. Automatic aim takes off a lot of pressure from beginners and requires them to focus on one less mechanic.

Make sure to move around often so you are always destroying enemies. This should maximize the amount of experience you gain, which can determine how well your run goes.


The way you play 20 minutes till dawn will generally be dictated by your build. However, there are a few general patterns that work well with most characters and weapons during early darkness levels.

20 mins till dawn strategy

Early Game

Chances are you are going to be starting your run with a weak weapon that does not instantly annihilate all your enemies, which makes moving around all the time your best bet. Take out as many monsters as you can and use the XP points they drop to level up so you can build up your damage output. Quick early levels can improve your run.

Oh, and stay away from trees. Taking them down will require more damage than you might have access to.

Mid Game

As you get deeper into the game, your focus should shift from damage to range. Enemy hoards will only get more populated from here on, and you need a way to deal with them. Attacks that hit multiple enemies, bounce, and cause explosions will be some of your best options.

You can even control crowds by freezing enemies, which does not make up for the need for AOE damage, but certainly buys you some time. Besides the right freeze upgrades can give you a ton of exploding enemies.

End Game

The final stages of the game will either have you standing still with a build that makes you almost invincible, or have you running around hoping the timer runs out soon. Either way, you will know which path you might end up with a few upgrades in advance.

If you find yourself with a build that lets you stay still toward the end, double down on it with a higher fire rate. If your attack speed is high enough, focus on other aspects of damage.

If you think you will have to run around a lot, increase your movement speed and other defensive attributes like vitality and a shield.

The end game in 20 Minutes Till Dawn is more about surviving the run than making further progress. (Although a few last-minute upgrades will not hurt you.)

Boss Battles

After every few minutes in your run, you will come across an enemy that will require a little more effort to beat. Some of these enemies are minor hindrances that will only require you to move around more often, while others will make you completely change your playstyle.

20 minutes till dawn boss battles


The forest in 20 minutes till dawn in the standard mode does not present too many major threats. The Elites, which are The Elder (The brain with tentacles), The Spawner (The ball with one eye), and The Winged terror ( As defined by its name) can easily be beaten by simply maintaining your distance until your attacks eventually kill them.


The two major bosses in the forest might be a bit more difficult to deal with and may take a few tries to be fully understood. Use your failed tries to become familiar with their patterns so you can predict their next move.

Shub-Niggurath (The four-legged beast) will dash toward you after short intervals. Make sure shooting is not slowing you down when this happens as you will need to evade these attacks.

Shoggoth (The laser shooting ball) is an arguably easier boss fight. As long you take down smaller enemies and keep your path clear, evading his beams should be no big deal.

If evading their attacks does not seem like a real possibility, you can combine the freeze ability with a high fire rate to keep them frozen for most of the fight.

Game Modes

20 Minute Till Dawn is available as an early-access game at this time and includes three modes – Standard, Quickplay, and Endless. The standard mode comes with the 20-minute rounds you would expect while quickplay only has a 10-minute mode and the endless mode puts you through a survival challenge.

While you will need to go through the Standard mode to progress through all the levels of Darkness, you can use the quickplay mode to experiment with new builds and learn how to fight Shun-Niggurath, who can often be the most difficult boss in the game.

All the boss fights, characters, and weapons in 20 Minutes Till Dawn can make it seem more complicated than it is. The guide above should give you has given you the strategies you will need to clear the first few stages of the game without much trouble.

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