Developed By: Hinterland Games Categories: Survival Release Date: 09.17.20
Lets get this out of the way, The Long Dark does a great job at being a hardcore survival game. The game really shows the care the developers put into it, it’s not the best looking game, but the chilling (no pun intended) atmosphere of the cold outdoors is stunning. The game is deep with plenty of mechanics revolving around surviving, crafting, collecting, hunting. The game however, isn’t fun.
The game had a very slow and uneventful start inside your little hangar. You’re tasked with starting a fire, but you need to find everything to start it first. This is a great way to introduce you to survival and firestarting mechanics, but the issue comes up with the fact items of interest blend in to the environment, leading you to waste valuable time finding things you’d need. In your hangar, it’s harmless, but soon after you make a crash landing in your plane into the deep, cold wildernes, the game hits you hard like a sack of bricks with getting the picture.
You’re cold. Hurt, and if you’re not careful on your way to a cave for shelter, burnt. This all quickly drains your health, fast at that. Pick up everything you can on your way to the cave, you’ll need them. Twigs, various other wood, lighter fluid, bandages, food. Once in the cave, you’ll need to start a fire to not freeze to death, granted you have the materials, no big deal, however fire is built on a percentage, and takes time, so you could be losing heath the entire time, only to die while your fire making attempt fails. On your way through a linear path, you’ll get thirsty and hungry, which will require you to make fire outside once more. Hope you’re not close to death, all of this takes valuable time. Get your tin can, melt snow into water, then boil it so it’s drinkable. Taking time. Need to make a mixture to drink to help with your ailments, repeat, but then take time to prepare it. Time to get food. There’s a small section with rabbits, which require you to toss stones at them to stun. Stones, as in two, so you throw one, it falls, it runs, you track them down again, throw another rock, to grab it and snap it’s neck. Then go back to the fire, prepare the rabbit’s parts to cook. Hope your fire doesn’t go out at all during this time. If it does, hope you weren’t about to starve to death, because you’ll need to waste time hoping your fire gets started properly. This is a chore and is incredibly frustrating.
I do admire how much is tracked in gameplay though. Your thirst, hunger, whether you’ve rested, how cold you are, and even burns. All of this can and needs to be taken care of in order to not perish, but can quickly become very overwhelming if not dealt with. The close you grab get put on in their own categories, with the option to mix, match, and even remove if one feels inclined to go naked in the snow like a madman. Luckily, once picked up clothes is automatically put on. Unfortunately, while I do like how much work is put into the fact you have status effects for hypothermia and a warm stomach, among others, but it feels overwhelming to have to track so many things, and when constantly on the verge of death, just isn’t enjoyable to do.
Soon if you push hard enough, you will find shelter, food in a building, but a road block comes again once you’re required to find food and wood for an old woman. A lot of it. It again, just isn’t fun and feels like I’m wasting time, or just wasting resources. But at the very least, it’s free warmth, so it’s not too much like the game kicks you in the teeth 24/7.
As mentioned earlier, I like the presentation. The game forgoes a realistic artstyle to almost seem like the characters are 3D versions of stylized paintings, I like it. The outdoors, while linear does appear vast and feels as cold as it looks. It takes you in, but maybe a bit too well. There’s a real strong bitter, hopeless feeling when walking in the windy nights in the game, with your torch getting put out, trying to sneak around a sleeping wolf. It’s suspenseful, but again, maybe a bit too suspenseful.
If you’re into the more hardcore, extreme survival games, you’ll get something out of The Long Dark. I didn’t. For everything I liked, a frustrating, downright cruel hurdle would trip me and ruin my enjoyment. The game seems to really revel in the fact it’ll make you feel like you’re fighting as hard as the character in the game, and that just isn’t fun.
Buy now: $34.99
*Game Download Code was supplied for review purposes