The Long Dark

I’m a sucker for survival games, especially if they don’t classify “survival” as “shoot enemies in the face”.  The Long Dark is a new (currently Early Access) game which is exactly that – you’re alone in snowy Canadian wilderness and you need to not die.

The game contains a number of systems to help enhance the survival aspects.  It tracks your calorie expenditure, cold, fatigue, hunger and thirst, in addition to general health and wounds.  There’s randomized weather, including windchill elements.  Carrying a lot of weight or running up a snowy hill will fatigue you faster and burn more calories.  There’s also a bit of a skill system, in that each time you do something like build a fire you’ll gain some skill and reduce the chance of failure (wasting precious matches :( ).  There’s also wildlife, including wolves which happily try to gut you if you go near them (which is not at all what a non-rabid lone wolf would likely do, but they have a disclaimer when you boot up the game saying they took liberties with the animal behaviour, so…)

Here’s how my first game went:

I wandered around in the snow a bit, clicking trees to see if I could hack them down like Minecraft or something (wood harvesting actually takes place under an option in the menu, there’s no actual physical tree punching involved).  It didn’t take long before I stumbled onto a tiny cabin and was like “Sweet, I am saved!”.  There was even an MRE inside it! (1750 calories!) but there was no fireplace, and I got cold really quickly.  I figured out how to build a fire outside (it wouldn’t let me build it inside – bullshit I’ll burn this place down and die of smoke inhalation if I damn well want to >:( ) and kind of wondered what to do next.  I had food but no water.  While dicking around with the fire I discovered how to melt snow and boil it to make potable water though, so that was another dilemma solved.  Then a blizzard arrived so I hid in the cabin and slept in the bed for like 4 hours (1h at a time) until I couldn’t hear the wind anymore.

I spent pretty much the whole next day wandering around uselessly and wasting the entirety of that MRE, which is probably a pretty accurate simulation of what would actually happen.  After recognizing I needed to abandon this semi-useless cabin, I set out down a frozen creek, figuring I could follow it back if I needed to get back to the shelter.  My cold indicator had just hit the max and my avatar started complaining about not being able to feel her fingers when I spotted a cabin that had smoke coming from its chimney!  I dashed for it and warmed up by the cook stove (which I still had to light despite there being smoke visible outside.  Bullshit!).

It was a hunter’s cabin full of incredible goodies like candy bars and jerky and a hunting rifle (!).  Also a workbench that I could create things at if I happened to have anything required to make anything, which I didn’t.  I milked this cabin for pretty much a full day but those candy bars didn’t last long at all and I rapidly ran out of food.  There were plenty of frozen deer carcasses outside, but I couldn’t harvest anything from them because they were frozen and apparently I was too much of a pussy to just gnaw off some frozen slivers of raw meat, like a real Canadian.  I made some expeditions around the cabin hoping to find an axe or something, but found nothing useful and almost froze to death once.  I also found someone’s frozen corpse, but he had no useful tools or food on him (I suppose if he had useful things he probably wouldn’t be so dead right now…).  I tried to shoot a rabbit with my gun only to discover it wasn’t loaded and I had no bullets /facepalm.

Things were getting grim.  I was starving to death in a cabin surrounded by frozen meat, so I decided it was leave or die.  I struck out in a random direction and had to stop once to make a fire to un-freezing myself.  After that burned out I set off again and a short while later I discovered some train tracks.  By this point I was starting to lose condition to freezing again, but I was already losing condition from my calories being at 0 so I decided it was better to push forward and follow the tracks and hope for a warm hut full of food, rather than just warming up and starving for longer.  My condition had dropped to 40% when I spotted a cabin and dashed for it.  It didn’t have much food in it but it was enough to keep me alive.  I was also exhausted by this point so I took a short nap, then continued exploring outside.

SUCCESS.  ICE FISHING CABINS.  I raided the first one I got to and found a can of sardines, which boosted me a bit, and… could it be?  A HUNTING KNIFE.  Now I had to decide… risk going back to the cabin where a bunch of dead deer were, or try to take down one myself? With no bullets…

But that dilemma was solved for me when I saw a wolf take down a deer right outside the cabin.  I skirted around it and waited inside for an hour to let it finish.  It was wandering around mid-ice when I came back out so I quickly harvested all the meat, the leather, and the guts (which can be used to make a fishing line!).  There was also a hook in the cabin!  Oh man I’m set now!

I went inside, cooked up the venison, dropped my hunger and thirst to zero, then prepared a fishing line to use at the ice fishing huts.  It was getting dark, so I rested until 4:30AM, figuring I would get an early start on the day and see about setting aside a nice cache of fish to live off of.  When I got up it was still dark and I kind of stumbled to the door, but when I got outside it was essentially twilight – it was dark, but you could see the outlines of the huts on the ice.  Easy to navigate!  And it should be light by the time I get there.  Perfect.

I set off across the ice and………… heard a menacing growl to my right.  I spun around to see two pinpoints of reflected light, just before the wolf lunged at me and knocked me to the ground.  I punched it once in the face, but then it tore my throat out.

Fucking wolf >:(

So anyway, it would seem that black wolves are hard to see in the dark.  Bah.

The game seems like it could have a lot of potential… I found it pretty interesting and I’m curious to see what other systems they might put in place as they develop.  The game could really benefit from randomized maps though because the replay value is going to plummet significantly if you know exactly where the cabins and fishing huts and everything are.  And it does seem a little silly that there’s cabins full of supplies everywhere you turn, although it seems to be balanced around finding them.  It bothers me that I couldn’t forage for a sharp stone or something to hack off some frozen meat… I shouldn’t need to rely on finding a specific item in a man-made cabin to be able to harvest something like that, but maybe they’ll add some more forageable tools in the future.  And maybe the ability to build your own shelters and buildings.  That would be pretty sweet.

So I’d say it’s worth checking out if you like this sort of thing, but also worth keeping an eye on if you want it to be more fleshed out before you dive in.

About tagracat
I am not a professional, I don't get paid to review shit, I am just opinionated and I seem to have some sort of disorder that results in spewing my opinions onto the internet. I enjoy writing long-winded posts about things and sometimes I like to pretend people want to read them, so a blog seemed an appropriate place to stuff it. But mostly I just like writing about things.

One Response to The Long Dark

  1. sounds good, i will have to give that a try.

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