Almost all of us want to be where it’s warmer and sunnier, where the days are long and bright and the nights are short and warm. Only a small portion of people see the joy in snowflakes falling from the sky, cosy nights next to the fireplace in a house in the middle of snowy mountains and forest trails where there are no people, only wildlife. A fresh take on a ‘cold situation’ is on offer from the authors of the game “The Long Dark”. They have their own, frightening look at the cold and snowy solitude.
Suppose you find yourself somewhere far from home, in northern Siberia or, as in this game, in northern Canada. Let’s say you have no communications and you’re far from the city, and even if you had a working phone, it would not change anything, because there are no more people. You are all alone in the snow. No time to grieve by the way, because an even colder night is coming, and you have but one pair of trousers and a warm jacket.
Yes, “The Long Dark” is a game about survival in the midst of cold mountains. The snow doesn’t end, it just changes its intensity. The wind howls in your ears, ambient temperature creeps in. The body stiffens, the stomach cramps with hunger, the legs ache after an unsuccessful attempt to run down a hill. How long have I been here? Have to check the time … What do you mean it’s only been two minutes of the game?
Time stretches out here, because every second is a struggle for life. You need to seek shelter, to collect materials for light, to hunt and to fish to feed yourself, tan skins and hang out the entrails of animals to produce clothes and accessories since no ready-made garments can be found in the vast expanse. The entire game is a search for anything that will help you keep warm, to drink, eat, or at least escape from the cold, and from wild animals that also roam the local area.
Unfortunately, the storyline campaign hasn’t been added yet (although the authors have plans for it), so the only thing available is plotless survival in the open map. However, this will be enough, because it is doubtful that you’d be able to hang in there for at least two game days on the first attempt. Watching calories, monitoring temperature, fatigue and thirst, and carefully walking in the woods isn’t for everyone. The game is too unfriendly to give players everything they want. On the first survival map there are almost no buildings, no small houses with stoves, where you could keep warm and sleep. Sometimes we have to go to sleep in the open air under the cover of a large pile of snow. Alas, that sleep may lead you to waking up in the stomach of a wolf. This game is beautiful.
Alas, even with this gameplay there are a lot of bad sides, familiar to any low-budget indie. The graphics quality is very, very low. It looks even worse than it actually is especially against the backdrop of well-made weather effects. The cartoonish style of “The Long Dark” doesn’t suit it, particularly when we had “Kholat” so recently. It was exactly the same thing, but more beautiful, and with less of the survival element.
In addition, the graphics tend to fail. I personally went inside textures and climbed the mountains, which are supposed to be a natural wall of the square area, several times. In fact, I was even able to get outside the map area, simply because the authors hadn’t considered this possibility. They were engaged in quite different issues, like making the gameplay the main emphasis of the game. You can get used to the visuals, of course, but a serious game about death and realism needs appropriate framing.
My overall impression of the brief days that I spent in this game was very nice. Yes, you need a lot more time and countless attempts to hang in there for at least one game-day to learn how to survive in this game (the game has a one-off save which gets destroyed after death). I hope that the promised storyline will be as good as the “survival” part, and will also find a couple of ways to try your patience.
Hardcore sandbox with a dozen ways to die
Crafting. Work fast with your hands to survive a minute longer here
Great atmosphere of loneliness
The visual style doesn’t suit the content
Very slow gameplay
Kirill Ilukhin. Born in 1985 in a land with snowy summers and flooding winters. Games addict from the age of 13, actively voicing opinions about them since 17.