The Long Dark Review. Brutal, Immersive & Challenging
I’ve played a couple of survival games during my time, but The Long Dark is distinct. It basically considers every aspect possible of a human trying to survive a winter, and you might actually feel the fatigue even in your living room.
I think the developers could have done better with graphics. The characters are a bit cartoony, and there are frame rate dips that might get you incensed occasionally. The voice acting does well in assisting the visuals. That aside, the game models the winter environment almost perfectly. Despite having a lot of survival utilities, you won’t get any feeling of being overwhelmed by unnecessary menus; instead, you have subtle dwindling meters for different items.
You are a pilot who has crash-landed in the Canadian wilderness after a geomagnetic storm and are searching for a friend (in story mode). The game is initially a sandbox survival game which sees the player manage inventory. Initially, a tutorial is provided as you try to learn the ropes of the game. You need to collect food, medicine, weapons, water, firewood, etc. You also need to keep yourself safe from bears and wolves which are terrifying, especially in sandbox mode.
The game simulates weather perfectly, and it can transform from a cold blitz to sunny skies in an instant. Items are randomly spawned, meaning you’ll get something different each time you play. In sandbox mode, things move faster, and you’ll really get into making decisions by yourself on what your next move might be, faced with various predicaments such as sickness, lack of water and food, etc. In story mode, the gameplay is less harsh, but the action is just as riveting, and wolves never stop coming at you.
Occasionally movement might stall, but generally, the controls are very fluid. Checking inventory is quite easy. I found that a melee against a bear or wolf attack seemed to take slightly longer on occasion, and I had to start pressing the action button as soon as I anticipated an attack. What I did note was a slight dip in reaction time as I pushed the action buttons, especially in story mode. I’m not quite sure if this had anything to do with sluggish controls or memory management in the game.
Replay Value: 5.0
Random spawning of items means no two games will be completely identical, keeping everything exciting. The fact that you can play in either story or survival mode (with different difficulty options) gives the game high replay value. What I love most about the game is that you never know what’s going to happen next. Even in story mode, there is always an element of something random popping up on your screen the next minute.
While the initial tutorials provided give a little support for first-timers like myself, you have to do the bulk of work yourself in learning how to survive in a harsh winter. This isn’t an action game, but you’ll spend a good amount of time playing it because it is inherently decision-based. The addition of story mode is great for those who feel like sandbox is too challenging to play.
- Different modes.
- Encourages you to strategize.
- Realistic winter simulation.
- Great voice acting.
- Lackluster graphics.
- Controls occasionally get sluggish.