The Long Dark: The night is dark

Beautiful and deadly is the best way we can describe The Long Dark. As our early access hands-on time with the game has proven, this is a purist survival game with very little by the way of bells or whistles in terms of challenges, but plenty invested in the atmosphere and art style to make it one of the more compelling vanilla experiences we’ve seen in a while.

We spent a little time in the sandbox mode for the game, wandering the wilderness, attempting to collect resources where we could find them, watching our calorie intake to make sure we had enough energy to get around while keeping an eye out for wolves. It was tense and exhausting stuff at times and that’s without the zombies, vampires, aliens or marauders you might typically expect in a game like this. Instead you simply have to battle the cold, hunger, thirst and wildlife, but that’s more than
enough to keep you busy.

The Mystery Lake location of this early and evolving build of the game has a great mix of wood cabins, empty tundra, frozen lakes and limited wildlife to keep you guessing and foraging for a good long while. Our first few playthroughs were met with swift death, though, as we adjusted to the demands of the game. As you get dropped randomly into what appears to be a national park region, getting your bearings and heading for the nearest shelter is crucial. You need to find warmer
clothing, tools and scrap for repairing items and, if you’re lucky, a weapon of some kind, because those wolves don’t mess around.
“We want to be part of the incredible crowdfunding revolution, and create a direct relationship with our players”
We lost count of how many times we were killed by the lupine threat in The Long Dark. While flares can sometimes scare them away, they didn't always do us much good and at night, stumbling through the pitch darkness in a snow storm, seeing their glowing yellow eyes in the distance was enough for us to push the keyboard aside and restart from scratch. Why go through the torment of being mauled to death again?

But it is all so engrossing, not least because it’s a gorgeously realised world and the simple, painted art style offers so much life to what would otherwise be a very bland game. Throw in some light sources indoors or even the Aurora Borealis in the sky and we wouldn't blame you for staring at it with wonder (but don’t, because your insides are eating themselves). What the episodic story content will bring to this game we’re keen to discover, but even if it was only this open sandbox experience this would already be an easy game for us to recommend you keep an eye on.

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