The Long Dark is a first-person, open-world survival game developed and published by Hinterland Games, it was released in 2017. The Long Dark is set in the Canadian wilderness in the aftermath of a global disaster. You must brave the elements, hunt for supplies, explore and uncover the mystery. Wintermute serves as the episodic story mode for the game. At the time of writing, 3 of the planned 5 episodes have been released.
In episode one, you play as Will Mackenzie. He is surprised by a sudden visit from his ex-wife Dr. Astrid Greenwood. She informs Will that she has discovered some important information that may explain the recent extreme weather conditions. Will agrees to take her in his plane to wherever she needs to go. However, their plane crashes leaving them separated. Also, the case containing the vital research is with Will instead of Astrid. He sets out on a journey to reconnect with Astrid.
Episode 2 continues Will’s perilous journey and takes him even deeper into the savage wilderness. Episode 3 places you in the shoes of Astrid as she makes her own attempts to reconnect with Will.
The primary mechanics to be aware of in The Long Dark are body temperature, caloric intake, hunger/thirst, fatigue, wind-chill, wildlife, and a host of other environmental factors. Being outside at night is a quick way to die unless you have the supplies to build a substantial fire. Also, there are wild animals that can pose a threat to you. Although, there is weaponry out there to help you defend yourself. Additionally, Food, weaponry and items deteriorate with time and usage. You can hunt animals and use their pelts to craft clothing. Pretty much everything can broken down to be used as a resource.
The Long Dark does feature different difficulty modes if you fancy experiencing the story with little difficulty.
Additional to the story mode is a sandbox mode where the objective is simply to survive as long as you can. At this moment in time, Episode 4 is set for release in 2021. We’ll have to wait to then to see where the story goes.
If survival games are your thing then The Long Dark is one of finest examples out there. It can be very unforgiving in the first few hours as you get to grips with everything. Keeping a keen eye on your body temperature as well as the other gauges at all times is essential. This is the type of game that rewards you for taking risks. Going from one side of a map to the other can be daunting and will put your life at risk. However, your willingness to explore can lead to certain rare items being uncovered. Items like guns, a flashlight and thermal clothing can help make things more manageable.
The simple story is very intriguing. Along the way you’ll encounter a few NPC’s that give you quests. Most if not all of these require you to go from A to B and collect something. The main questline sees you collecting huge amounts of wood and food to ensure an old lady makes it through the winter. Make sure you don’t leave yourself short. The mystery at hand progresses just enough that it kept me hooked. In the second episode you go toe to toe with an ancient bear that you must defeat.
All of this is helped along nicely by some excellent voice acting throughout. Also, I really enjoyed the soundtrack.
This may be a budget title but it can be seriously beautiful, check out the image below. Sure, it does look rough in certain places but that’s to be expected. It has a unique visual style. Another thing, it’s possible for you get seriously injured in the game which will require some form of medication. For some reason I would always get hurt from simply walking up or down shallow hills which was really annoying.
Even though it can often be stressful, I found The Long Dark to be a relaxing game to play. Walking through the wintry tundra with only the sound of birds, wind and howling wolves to accompany you is delightful. The feeling of just making it to that cave in the distance before you freeze to death is rewarding. Managing to light a life-saving fire in a snowy blizzard filled me with warmth. It makes you appreciate nature and places emphasis on the importance of protecting the planet.
It’s a shame that the game isn’t complete at this time. However, I do think it’s worth playing for the current content. I eagerly anticipate the next episode.
The Final Score - 8/10