In The Long Dark, the player assumes the role of a crash-landed pilot trying to survive in the
cold, dark days and nights of the Canadian wilderness. The game plays a lot like many other
survival games where the player has to keep track of their food and water intake with the added
difficulty of the temperature while making sure to craft and obtain enough weapons and
ammunition to make it through. There are three different game modes that are currently playable;
´Story mode´ is where the player gets to experience things that have happened before the crash as
well as make his or her way through the game in a more structured way with the addition of
quests, ‘Survival mode’ is where basically the player is free to move as he or she wishes and is
not bound by any rules or restrictions. The last game mode available, ‘Custom’, basically allows
the player to customize their experience and set their own rules.
The goal is to survive as long as possible by scavenging for food and water and defending
oneself from the wildlife present: wolves, bears, etc. The Long Dark has both day and night
cycles but what makes it really special and especially difficult are the blizzards and snowstorms
that can cause death because of freezing temperatures. Making shelter and having materials for
making fire becomes a very important part of the player’s life as they struggle to explore the
various available maps.
Photo by author
What made The Long Dark special to me was the atmosphere. Having played every single
survival game out there and none made me feel as alone and abandoned as this one has… in a
good way. Finding myself alone in the freezing temperatures, hunted by wolves, has definitely
been the closest I have ever come to fear in a survival game. The fact that there is no multiplayer
makes it even more of a solitary and extraordinary experience; every battle is yours to fight, you
are the one responsible for yourself and none else. There are, however, multiple difficulties the
player can choose from and thus make the game more or less challenging.
The user interface and design are minimalistic, easy to understand, and the overall graphics of
the game are stunning, the style of the art makes me think of a watercolor painting, which
apparently was the intention of the developers. The game not trying to be too realistic in art style
is perhaps what’s even more attractive to me, in some kind of inexplicable way.
Photo by author
Publisher: Hinterland Studio
Developer: Hinterland Studio
Platforms: Linux, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Release date: August 1, 2017