I recently purchased new guts for my PC after a several month hiatus on gaming and opted to try some of the games I acquired during the Steam summer sale. Of those, the ones really worth talking about would be Aliens: Isolation which I have not worked up the courage for and The Long Dark, a survival game set in the majestic northern Canadian Wilderness. After a plane crash caused by an Electromagnetic storm you must travel through rough terrain back to civilization seeking food, water, and shelter while avoiding prowling wolves, marauding bears, and the icy indifference of blizzards. Currently the game is in Alpha and only the Sandbox mode is available with a Story mode launching later this year.
I like to fool around in games mostly; story is nice but being thrown into a game with no foreknowledge and little to no explanation beyond trial and error makes for good entertainment in my books. I chose the middle difficulty (Voyageur) and jumped right in. Almost immediately a variety of hints greeted me and before long I had the basics in hand much to my dismay. I soon came across some railroad tracks and followed those to a good-sized cabin by a lake. I ventured inside and gathered up what I could. While certainly helpful there just wasn’t enough to sustain me for more than a day or two so I had to keep looking. Returning to the outside I could see a couple of ice fishing huts on the frozen lake and so made my way to them and looted those as well, after that it was a short trek to a couple more cabins and beyond those more huts and more cabins. This was almost too easy. I had amassed a large collection of food, spare parts for crafting, and even a few bullets with many more spots to clean out. In my greed, however, I didn’t notice the black blurs patrolling the ice. On my way to the next group of cabins I heard an insistent barking and saw that the black blurs were quickly becoming more defined and they had too many sharp bits for my taste. I bolted back to the cabins just barely making it in before they ran me down. Such went my first encounter with wolves. I spent the next several hours peeking out periodically to see if the wolves were still around, they were. I reigned myself to spending the night and hoping for the best in the morning and while the wolves were gone so too was my food. What I thought was a good collection turned out to be next to nothing to my monstrous hunger, I had to find more. A quick jog brought me to the untouched cabins and I cleaned those out. A few more morsels could be found in a couple more fishing huts so I figured I’d have enough for more scavenging tomorrow. My hopes had returned but with them came the wolves. This time I wasn’t lucky enough to make it back into the cabin.
On my second play through I fared significantly better, I found a rifle and learned that wolves have a good amount of meat on them which solved two problems. So far so good but we will see how that goes in the next zone. I have a feeling that my luck will run dry when I need it most. Overall this game is a lot of fun and while certainly not the best looking graphically; it has a good style which I absolutely adore. Walking through the misty woods is unnerving and desperately searching for somewhere to hide in a blizzard is terrifying while your health drops lower and lower. A good amount of animals populate the world providing lots of opportunity and challenge depending on how kitted out you are. Lastly, the sandbox mode is fun and I imagine the story mode will be even better from what they intend to add. Winter is right around the corner and there’s nothing quite like sitting in a cozy room while your game character freezes to death.