Since first playing the Early Access version of this game on Xbox One in the summer of 2015 I have been eagerly awaiting it’s full retail release. The Long Dark, developed by Canadian indie developer Hinterland, is an open world wilderness survival game.
In Survival Mode you play as a pilot that has crashed in the Canadian wilderness and you have to use your wit and survival instincts to live as long as you can. Everything from sticks to old socks can determine if you live or die in the cold, alone. The game tracks your fatigue, food intake, water consumption and various medical conditions such as frostbite or hypothermia throughout your journey. It is up to you to stay warm, rest when you can and forage for food and water. This aspect of the game is what makes it so interesting. It is not necessarily an original concept but Hinterland has expertly executed the concept for their game. It is very easy to die in this game and once you die thats it. Game over. Start over friend in another random spawn.
The game world is vast with towns or villages scarcely scattered through out the beautiful Arctic landscape. Spending hours in the woods trying to find enough wood to build a fire is a very common activity in this game. While that may sound less than exciting to you reading this, let me assure you that it has a level of stress about it that is enjoyable.
The loot system is randomly generated to a certain extent. I have found, after multiple restarts, that some tools can be found in the same buildings and locations but not every loot item is subject to that rule. You can go days without finding anything useful in the game which can be the difference between life and death. For the most part everything in this game can be broken down and used for fuel for a fire or used to repair your items. Finding warming clothing is also vital to your survival as the temperature outside is well below freezing at all times.
With the full release of the game a Story Mode has been added to the game. Two episodes that act as a great tutorial for those who have not played the game before. The story follows a pilot and his estranged ex as they fly to North to deliver an important package. Suddenly there is a electromagnetic event and the plane goes down and you must survive the harsh environment while trying to complete your task.
The story mode is interesting enough to keep you engaged but some of the dialog and background story leave a lot to be desired. There are a few inconsistencies in tone from the actors as well. Moments that seem to be dire or solemn have unrelated emotion from the actors. The cut scenes from the game as well have very minimal animation of the characters. This does however work with the art style but it is still odd to see such rigid characters.
Overall this is a great survival game and the Xbox Achievement list isn’t so insane that you could not 100% this game. I have greatly appreciated the aesthetic and art direction of this game and look forward to continuing to play it.
Now get out there and survive!