The Long Dark

Genre: Survival / Open World / First-Person
Developer: Hinterland Studio
Gamemode: Singleplayer

"The light of my lamp was flickering while I passed through the mine, a part of the tunnel was collapsed and had only a very narrow passage, coming out into the blinding daylight again I can feel the wind tearing at the hood of my wind breaker. The highways surface is torn up, the burst asphalt shows the power of the frost that takes over everything and even the dry grass seems to shiver in the cold. While I trudge through the snow-covered landscape it crunches under my boots and my thoughts are circling around a warm fire that I do look forwards to." The open world first person survival game impresses by a beautiful painted graphic and the touching hopeless lonely frozen area where mankind lost the struggle against wilderness and an endless winter. The game is a lot about hiking and climbing in the wilds of Canada with all the trouble you can experience, like for example sprained ankles or wrist, freezing and other issues that can lead to permadeath. There is a sandbox mode available and a story mode.

The Single-player game is about your survival in the deserted frosty mountain area. You are confronted with wolfs and bears, the merciless cold and the problem to find food. You can melt snow and cook the water at any stove or fireplace, but for food you will need to go hunting or fishing and your resources to do this are very limited and get used up. You might be lucky to find some dog food or a tin with tuna in an abandoned cabin though. The weather changes can let you get lost in a snowstorm and die by freezing, the animals might kill you if you don't watch out carefully or you die freezing after a wolf did tear your clothes apart, you can fast starve by hunger and you will find several dead bodies around that will remind you of this. You will have to gather, use and salvage whatever you find in order to repair your equipment and build new one and keep yourself alive. It can be hard and very challenging to find useful equipment.

"It was a clear bright lightblue winters day. The pale sun polished the ice on the lake as if it was glas. But from one moment to the next one the weather changed, dark clouds gathered and cast shadows, fog came up and the wind was howling in the sudden blizzard." Generally everything can kill you, even old tins with spoiled food, uncooked water, a broken ankle might slow you down so that a wolf catches you and a wolf attack might cause so much bleeding and infection that you die within minutes if you don't have any bandage and antiseptic. The game is pretty realistic although the graphic is rather not, because it is painted in a comic style. Even if you finally find a gun to protect yourself the bullets for it are limited and it won't keep you fed for a long time. The game keeps you busy by its fast day and night circle, the dangers you are facing and the needs of your character. If your condition is too low you will not be able to do anything any more, so you always got to watch it. It is comforting that the caught animals will supply you with the best clothes, some that you can craft at any workbench. The developer Hinterland Studio provides you with feathers and a craft-able bow for this hunting if you find the forge to melt metal for the arrowheads.

There is a secret vault with a lot of loot you can find in every region but the placement is randomly generated at each game you start. Once you die your progress is gone which I personally hated. In the end time scenario of The Long Dark you can travel between several regions that are surrounded by insuperable mountains, find empty cars, mines and various different abandoned buildings in which you'll find some loot, but the loot does not respawn, which forces you to go on. In the end you will probably die when you run out of ammunition but some traps can still provide food for you for a long time, although you need to replace those too very often. In story mode wood or tools or even the repair of your clothes might get your biggest concern. You just don't get the resources you'd need to play all side quests and quests there are before you used all up. Some is replaceable but some small things like a wet stone to sharpen your tools you might need to search forever. Using up your food and organizing new one can keep you so busy that you might not even get to it to do your quests. Some can start feeling tedious and boring. Some will make you go back and repeat everything you did, because you missed out on doing something important, like learning to craft some mittens. The story mode can feel a bit like a hidden tutorial by this. If you don't understand in time how everything works you'll need to do it twice. The survival sandbox mode gives you the option to choose between getting attacked or not by animals, playing hardcore or rather normal, however if you die it's game over.

This game gets developed since 2017 and I don't really get why they could not put any small tutorial in when you start up a new game as a little reminder about the controls. There is a radial menu that shows up if you press space. This info should help you already a lot. Unfortunately the developers of this game seem to get a bit overbearing by the good reviews they had on their game. They ban people on their steam forum for no plausible reason if you give them feedback on their game development and dare to argue with them. So you better just stay away from their forum. By this the game is not my favorite one anymore because I condemn such arrogant behaviour. The Long Dark is a nice game, but you need a lot of patience to constantly die by wolf attacks and find your way through all regions with all the danger around. Your character will walk or work a bit and tell you quite fast he got tired now, which slows you down a lot. It depends on your willingness to accept very harsh conditions and your weak character if you can still enjoy the game. I really needed to keep always a save of the game to go on till the end, because it was too hard for me. It is probably a matter of taste and motivation if you love or hate this game, except you want to play the pilgrim mode without enemies, which is kinda not exciting at all.

We recommend: If you don't dislike the comic style of this game and don't want to post on their forum, buy it! It is a nice game.