NEED TO KNOW
Genre: Survival, Open World, First Person, Exploration
Developer: Hinterland Studio
Publisher: Hinterland Studio
Platform: Microsoft Windows, PS4, Xbox One, macOS, Linux
Game Size: 7GB
Average Duration: Main story: 18 hours Survival Mode: 70 hours +
Official Site: Official site.
The Long Dark is a survival game, played in the first person. It is both developed and published by Hinterland Studio. It was released in “alpha version” in 2014 on Steam Early access. Successful feedback ensured that the game would sell three-quarters of a million copies by 2016. The long dark was officially released on 1st August 2017.
An Episodic survival game where you as the protagonist have to do everything you can to survive and progress episode to episode.
It’s described on steam as a “thoughtful, exploration-survival experience”, and wants to give the player the experience of surviving in a harsh, frozen wilderness. The player has to survive the extremes of the aftermath of a geomagnetic global disaster, on their own. The game gives a chance to experience a realistic apocalypse, without zombies, and only gives us the problems that mother nature can conjure.
The Long Dark Trailer
You, the player, take control of a pilot who was crash landed, after a geomagnetic storm devastated the planet. Set in an open world environment, this game offers an intense view at the dangers and struggles of surviving in a realistic apocalypse, completely solo. You must control and regulate the pilots caloric intake, thirst/hunger, temperature, fatigue, wind chill, wildlife, and many more factors.
Two game modes are accessible, “Story mode” and “Survival mode” (at the time of the alpha game release, the only option was to play a sandbox mode (Survival), which gave players the choice to generate a character in a zone of their choice; Mystery lake, Pleasant Valley, Timberworld Mountain, Desolation Point, Forlorn Muskeg and Coastal Highway). You can access other places despite choosing to spawn in one area through exploration, and finding transition zones.
Initially, there was no option of difficulty, but due to popular demand, Hinterland decided to make four different modes to choose from.
Pilgrim – Essentially easy mode, allows players to explore and survive in leisure
Voyageur – A medium- middle ground mode, gives players a slightly harder challenge
Interloper – The most demanding adventure, when players want to push themselves.
Custom – Allows players to select the parts of the game that they’d like to create a unique experience.
The purpose of the game is to challenge the player, to see how long they can survive in these problematic conditions. Starting with scavenging, you must find resources to ultimately make use of them as best you can. The player must find food and water, wood for fire, supplies to create medicine, while also sourcing knives, weapons, axes and a range of other articles to help you to survive. All tools can be damaged and slowly degrade within time and usage, making it important to use all resources carefully and repair them when necessary.
A really great detail to the game is that animals are randomly spawned, meaning that each and every game you play is unique and individual to play. Animals can consist of hostile creatures such as bears or wolves, that threaten the life of the player, and so you must constantly battle with them in order to survive further. Deer can be found on the map too, in order to hunt and use the resources for food. To be able to cook and then eat food, fire is needed, and also helps the pilot to stay warm. The way the temperature works is random, so it’s important to keep monitoring in order to survive extreme cold conditions. A positive aspect to the game is that it creates a very realistic impression, by using a day and night cycle.
The Long Dark takes its stance on survival very seriously, and we’re not disappointed. Granted, the crafting side of the game could have more elements added, but the actual survival aspect makes up for this.
Essentially, you need to keep your basic survival needs met, and at the same time complete different challenges and goals. You spend your time mostly collecting supplies and resources and fighting away all the elements and wildlife that is trying to kill you in their own bid to survive.
Sometimes, however, the game can feel as though improvement is needed. The overall controls can be a little bit tricky if you’re a beginner and unsure of how to do certain necessary things in the game. If in any doubt, make sure to google your problem because the community is aware of some difficult experiences in the game and can help out with certain aspects such as which buttons to press for certain problems.
One annoying aspect is that lighting fire is not always successful, and will sometimes result in running out of matches. If you can get a fire going, you can use it to melt snow and drink it as water. Players often complain of the fact you cannot climb trees or buildings, or even jump, which granted, would be a difficult thing to do while knee deep in snow, but would make the game more fun to play.
Players have often voiced their want for more playable areas. There is a lot to explore currently, and no doubt you will have fun exploring, but the only randomized aspect of the game is the resources and animals. The way that the loneliness of the apocalyptic Canadian wilderness is portrayed is brilliant and realistic, sometimes it can be a little bit too authentic and not offer much action for a small amount of time. This can make you question yourself as to whether or not you’re going in the correct direction, but remember that it’s an open world game and there isn’t a right and wrong way to play. (Unless you die!).
The story mode is quite successive, while the survival mode is entirely made from your own decisions. You should try both, but ultimately the way you will enjoy the game is by finding the style you’d rather play.
The audio is beautifully made for this game. Characters are voiced well, music is eerie and represents the hopelessness feel of this situation, and sound effects are paired well with their actions.
Initially, graphics seem disappointing and basic. I think you need to really appreciate the style of art that The Long Dark has chosen to present. The visuals are far from realistic, but instead appear “painted”, and cartoon-like. Sometimes, if this is done distastefully it can ruin a game and make it look tacky and lazy, however, I find the basic graphics feel quite likeable and remind me of the simplicity of an older game. Cut scenes appear to be hand drawn (or are made to look like they are if not), they give a really unique style that is very rarely seen in games. I like the unique approach to the style of visuals. Characters and animals are 3D, and have fluid and aesthetic animations.
Another element that stands out and makes this game original in an ocean of survival games, is the beautifully made skies. Sunset and sunrise are different and although the graphics are simple, the skies can be remarkably striking. Weather conditions are done so well as to immerse you completely in the environmental difficulties of the wilderness, and when you are stranded in a storm, it really takes over the screen and feels as though it would in real life.
At times, you might notice the odd glitch here or there in the landscapes, but this is only if you’re looking, such as shadows or shapes in the ground that don’t fit.
It appears to work as most open world games do, with a fade into the distance that loads and processes as you walk closer to other places. Entering a building or different zone will pause the game while it loads.
Cut scenes are sometimes unskippable, sometimes this is extremely tedious when you’ve seen it before, but overall, playing The Long Dark is a satisfying experience.
Is It Worth It?
Is The Long Dark Worth it?
With a linear storyline and a random survival mode to choose from, The Long Dark offers two different styles of game to select. It gives us a beautifully visually made game, with great audio. The story is good enough to keep you gripped until the end, and the harshness of the survival mode will challenge you to want to keep going.
The only drawbacks of this game are the problems mentioned before, such as frustration lighting fires, confusion with some buttons and sometimes feeling a little lost.
Otherwise, The Long Dark offers a unique artistic style, enjoyable survival experience that is both fun to play and testing.
The Long Dark is worth it, as long as you enjoy survival games played at a leisurely pace.