TLD: First impressions of The Long Dark

Yesterday I picked up, after watching a video from Scott Manley, The Long Dark. This is an Early Access game on Steam, available for £14.99 (or $19.99), with the expectation that the price will rise as the game continues to be developed (in a similar fashion to Kerbal Space Program). You are a pilot whose plane has come down in the northern Canadian wilderness following an unexplained geomagnetical storm, and you have just one goal: survival.

Survival games are not uncommon, but this game interests me in a way those other generally have not for a quite simple reason – no zombies. 🙂 The main opponent in The Long Dark is the weather and generally inhospitable environment, aided and abetted by a somewhat violent wolf population. In my three playthroughs thus far I have never really gotten beyond the scavenger stage of the game – roaming around trying to find useful things. I am also now mostly sticking away from finding out more about the game, finding fun instead in just trying things out.

It must be remembered that this is still an alpha game, its feature set is very incomplete. You will sometimes encounter things in the game which are not yet implemented (for example, in the main survival menu there is an option to build a snow shelter, which you cannot do so currently as it is not been done). Likewise there are bugs, but you have to take the rough with the smooth. Likewise currently you can only play sandbox on one map, but there are boxes promising a Story mode and another map. I know some people do not like the Early Access game model, but I have found it well implemented well in Kerbal, and my first impression in this is very positive.

I find the graphics to fit very well with the atmosphere. Not the most realistic graphics, but it works very well to enhance the feeling of being cold. Sometimes crystal clear realism just isn’t what one desires in a game’s graphics, and here I think they art-choice is inspired. The atmosphere is aided by the voiceovers, which I have found to be very effective. Nothing over the top, just right to add that extra flavour.

I can see how some people will also not like this game at all. It certainly has the capacity to be cruel in terms of luck. With limited save opportunities, and as far as I can tell none after you die, some people are going to get frustrated. Essentially, if you don’t like permadeath don’t play. That said I usually am not a big fan of permadeath, but in this game I find it works – perhaps because it is single player.

So far the longest I have managed to survive is just over a single day. I am steadily working out where everything is on the map, and the process of exploration is being really diverting. I feel like I am only scratching the surface. Personally I think I am going to get my money’s worth out of this game.

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