The Long Dark has been a game I was aware of for some time. When the last Steam sale came, I decided to check it out, since it seemed so interesting. My actual reaction was “holy crab cakes, this is fun”.
Before I delve into the actual game, allow me to tell you a little bit about myself as a gamer. I don’t really have a particular genre I prefer. I love games, both AAA and indie. Since adulthood, and consequent responsibilities, my actual free time to game has decreased, so I now tend to only play the games I really want to and leave the “time-fillers”, to call them so crudely, behind.
My first rule: I don’t buy a game at launch, unless it’s something I really want. This doesn’t happen very often, but MGS:V and Fallout 4 are two games coming up I will pick up at launch. Otherwise, I wait until some game-of-the-year or complete version is out and discounted on Steam or something, since I already have quite the backlog of games I still need, and want to play.
My second rule is NO EARLY ACCESS GAMES. I capitalise it, because it’s something I have always tried to keep at heart. I don’t like the fact they’re not finished, they can still change drastically, and I always feel like there’s some risk involved. But along comes The Long Dark, which blows me away. I broke my rule and bought it.
I tried it first before I bought it. Many a gamer will gasp at this revelation, but since there was no demo available, I found a not-so-legal version on the internet and tried that. I feel like it’s important for me to admit that, because I really wanted to try this game, but there was no other way I could without paying. In honesty, I barely played the game before I turned it off again. I had to buy it, instantly. Here’s why.
I love survival games. I love just being a nomad in Minecraft, walking around, scrounging for food and resources, and hiding during the night. This game is just that. Surviving. There is a story element, to be added later, but for now it is just survival.
Players can choose between three difficulty levels, though they are not called that, and I don’t see them like that anyway. They’re just catered to what you prefer to play the game like. You can choose an option where there is no wildlife that’ll attack you, or one where it will (which would be the standard mode), or one where things are more challenging and “realistic”.
You, as the player, are stuck in a very cold place, where it’s either incredibly cold or absolutely freezing, when a blizzard comes along. You get hungry, thirsty and sleepy, but you also need to keep an eye on how cold you are.
Basically, you scrounge for food and supplies. You look for fuel to burn, food and drinks, new/warmer clothing, weapons, … Anything useful. You can craft items, combine them or use snow on a fire to make water. It’s a very complex, well thought-out system, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard to use.
Survival is a basic human instinct and this game really makes me feel like I have the survive. It’s a visceral experience I have rarely had. I got immersed in the world very quickly and that’s part of why I like it.
This game has a beautiful aesthetic, and it runs well. Especially for an early access game. Some say the game looks a bit bland and that the textures look washed out, but it feels like a real world to me and I forget I’m playing an actual game two minutes in.
So would I recommend it? Tough to say. This is all based on the roughly two hours I have played of this game so, but I think I would. I’m going to keep playing it, that’s for sure.