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Second Look: The Long Dark

Edited by: Tiffany Lillie

Prepare yourself for the quiet apocalypse. Shivering and surviving, you will make your way through the snowy forests and splintered towns of a Canadian environment to find that the biggest threat to you is the weather. The cold, the dark, the beasts, and the loneliness of The Long Dark show a truly refreshing and interesting take on the modern survival genre.

WELCOME TO THE END

The Long Dark features two distinct game modes that players can dive into. There is a story mode, which features two available chapters out of the five that will eventually be playable, and a classic sandbox-style survival mode. The story mode is very appealing, as it still encompasses all the sandbox survival features while giving players a sense of purpose and urgency.

Story mode also presents itself in a powerful fashion, and the characters involved feel very lifelike and relatable. This is rare in the survival genre, as of late, and makes The Long Dark stand out amongst its peers. Personally, I felt very attached to the characters and truly did not want to get eaten by the wolves or become a human popsicle until I fulfilled the quest lines. On top of the interesting art direction and cutscenes, the voice acting feels powerful and professional.

The sandbox survival mode throws you into a pre-chosen area of a certain difficulty and pits you against all the threats of the wilderness without the strings of the story. Here you are free to write your own book on survival — but you'll more than likely face your inevitable demise. There is no escape from this apocalypse.

Overall, the presentation of The Long Dark is great. The art style is a mild cartoony look with a slight low-poly design. Voice acting is respectable and feels realistic. The conversations between characters don't feel forced, in most cases, and bring a good sense of urgency and distress. The gameplay, however, is where this title shines.

I WILL NOT GO QUIETLY

Starvation, sleep deprivation, bone-chilling cold, and the dangers of the savage wolves plague these landscapes. Every day in the wilderness is a curse that brings you one step closer to your impending doom. Many times in The Long Dark you will truly sense the hopelessness and the struggle of trying to simply survive in the bitter winter. With that in mind, there are some moments where gameplay can feel unnecessarily slow.

The developers have put a wonderful emphasis on realism (in most aspects) and this truly adds a layer of fear and struggle to the game design. Yet, there may be moments where realism brings pain to the fun. Starting a fire, crafting items, and manipulating objects in your inventory all will bring a spinning loading wheel to your HUD, to simulate the crafting of whatever object you are trying to interact with. This is not inherently a bad feature, but it may cause the impatient gamers to get frustrated.

While waiting is almost a core component of The Long Dark, have no fear. You will get your fill of stress in other departments. Your first days may consist of looting abandoned houses or cars, but soon enough you will find yourself fending off the packs of hell dogs. The wolves have no fear of you and will not hesitate to make the first assault. You may find yourself simply trying to cook a small meal, tend to your wounds, or just trying to warm yourself by the fire after a long day of hiking.

As you plop down to focus on your human needs, the wolves will find you. The howls and snarls of your mortal enemies within The Long Dark begin to fill the forest. On the horizons of the surrounding tree line, silhouettes of these beasts begin to appear. The Long Dark does a fantastic job at instilling a primal fear into you. You'll run, you'll hide, and you'll fight.

If you choose to run, find shelter quickly. If you choose to fight, you better have the weapon systems necessary. Anything from small stones to throw, to a broken piece of metal, or the trusty, time-tested bow and arrow. Fighting comes with other problems, however, as wounds must be treated, blood loss must be monitored, and infections must be prevented. You are definitely in for a battle against the beasts and against yourself, but another, heavily-weighted conflict is always present, which you cannot forget: The weather. The long, cold dark.

The Long Dark is a title that inspires primal fear in its players. You'll need your wits and your heart to make it through the days to come. The art style, music, voice acting, and gameplay all convey a sense of despair and hardship, as well as providing a fantastic vessel to experience a different type of title within the survival genre. Bye-bye zombies, hello hypothermia.

Bric Hudson
Written by
Friday, 25 January 2019 14:35
Published in Editorial

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Bric is a US Army veteran and a passionate gamer. While in military service, he found gaming to be a way to connect with his friends all over the world. This blossomed into a fascination with the gaming culture and the experiences had while launching up a whole new title. He is fond of a variety of genres, which is reflected on his Twitch streams and on his Youtube channel. Find Bric on YouTube. Find Bric on Twitch.

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