The Long Dark (PC) first thoughts

The Long Dark is a thoughtful, exploration-survival experience that challenges solo players to think for themselves as they explore an expansive frozen wilderness in the aftermath of a geomagnetic disaster. – http://hinterlandgames.com/

Hello! Up next is a relatively quick roundup of my first hour of gameplay on Hinterland Games’ debut title – The Long Dark. I’ll run through the gameplay, mechanics, thoughts and other bits and bobs that I’ve experienced so far. A heads up for those of you who are potentially looking to purchase this game, you will die and often but don’t let that deter you. Lets dive in!

I opted to play on the medium difficulty, dubbed Voyageur, on the first map in the game – Mystery Lake. As I am a creative individual, I called my character Jack. So here I am, dumped on the border of a frozen lake and dense forest with nothing but some basic amenities, the latest Jack Wills winter gilet and the knowledge that i need to start searching the area for food, water, shelter and better clothing. Off I trot with hopes and spirits high.

After about half an hour worth of what can loosely be labelled as scavenging, I found a few sticks, some canned food and drink, a can opener and a bandage. Not exactly a bountiful harvest! What I have learnt in this time is you really have to keep moving and be a little bold, at least for the early game. If you set up camp in one place for too long you will quickly run out of resources. I found myself a watch tower which I stuck to for a while thinking it would be a good base of operations but quickly found my fuel for fire had dwindled and I was a good hike away from the next known supply of wood. This is where being bold comes into play. I feel that in this game you really need to just pick a direction and commit to it. If you hesitate you can quickly begin to freeze, starve or thirst.

One thing you will notice playing this game, watching YouTube videos or looking at screenshots is the art style. Reminiscent of Borderlands and The Walking Dead, it’s a refreshing take on pushing the boundaries of gaming art. You will have plenty of time to have a look around while you’re trekking between camp sites or if not, you should take a moment to just look just because.

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In my quest for survival in and around The Long Dark, I didn’t manage to come across any usable weapons, or none that I noticed anyway. If I was playing on the easier difficulty this may not have been a problem but unfortunately for me I ran into a wolf. This moment in my life felt exactly how King Leonidas felt in the film 300 when he was staring that wolf down. These two scenarios differed  slightly in that my character is (was) not a trained warrior equipped with a spear but instead an average fella called Jack with a can opener. Things did not end well as you can imagine.

After the encounter I was bleeding heavily and had plenty of bruises and bites but I was determined. I stemmed the blood with bandages and used some antiseptic to ward off infection. I can do this. I limp around looking for shelter with spirits high. Mere moments after encountering the wolf, which in hindsight was quite timid in comparison, I bump into what must have been the Alpha of the pack. It charged. I did not even try to run. Game over.

The Long Dark is brutal but it is also beautiful. As it stands, the game is currently in early access for £14.99 from the steam store, so is it worth it? With the current content being exciting and engaging, updates and more features to come, my recommendation – definitely worth it.

Bear Grylls eat your heart out.

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