The Long Dark: Review, kind of First Impressions

Images copyright Hinterland (I think, please correct me if I’m wrong) Screen cap from the game taken by me for review purposes

I realised the other day that I haven’t done a game review in a while, the first few posts were games related but they kind of fell to one side with the beauty products. I have slowed down on buying them and have a few of their reviews lined up but wanted to do a post about a game that I’ve found recently and loved playing.

The Long Dark is made by Hinterland and basically a survival game, it’s another that follows the same idea of surviving the wilderness and crafting what you need that a lot of other games have used. However this one seems different, it’s definitely addictive and very hard to survive (I’ve had more times surviving hours than days) and there are definitely areas that I’ve found that you need to be more careful in. This isn’t a walkthrough, though I guess I’m including tips, it’s sort of a combination of my opinions and how I’ve managed to survive longer the few times I have. I’m calling it first impressions as I’ve not actually managed to get all that far though I have played for a while and explored a lot.

This is early in the game’s development, it’s currently in alpha so there may be bugs and they’re adding things all the time. It’s available on Steam for £14.99 at the moment and can be found here. I bought it early on as I’ve seen a few youtubers play it, though it’s been developed since quite a few. The playlist of Weird Wizard Dave’s is here, it’s the most recent and more in depth than a lot I’d seen before as it’s a playthrough rather than a quick look at it. The official website is here, it might be worth checking if you want the latest updates on the game’s progress though I don’t see any recent updates.

Images copyright Hinterland, screen cap from the game taken by me
Images copyright Hinterland, screen cap from the game taken by me for review purposes

At the moment only one gamemode is available, the sandbox mode is basically a survival game where you survive as long as possible, that is the only aim of the game. There is also only one map, the mystery lakes, though it’s a nice map to explore and the snow elements of it being in Canada do make it a little different to other survival games I’ve played. There are obviously going to be at least two other maps as they’re on the page just greyed out and you can’t pick them. There’s also going to be a story mode and I can’t wait to see how that one goes, I hope it’s still fairly open world and not too guided as that’s part of the fun of these survival orientated games to me. You can also choose between three modes to play; pilgrim where animals don’t attack and I think the survival is easier, voyageur which is pretty much normal mode where things attack and survival is a bit harder, and stalker which is the equivalent of hard and it says survival is more realistic where it makes it more challenging. I’m not sure what that means but I haven’t got past the first couple of days in voyageur so I don’t think I’m ready to try it.

The first thing about this game that I love is the art style, it reminds me of a basic painting or almost as if the trees are made of strips of paper that have been cut out and stuck together. It kind of reminds me of the style of the shelter games with the look. It’s very basic and almost cartoon like and just so pretty. Even if your computer can’t hand the best quality video settings it’s still amazing to wander round and look at things, though I would suggest the setting where animals don’t attack if you want to do this. It’s slightly less enjoyable to stare at the trees and the sky and then find yourself being eaten by a wolf.

At the moment wolves are the only bad guys in this as far as I know, they can kill you if you don’t have a weapon, but as there’s a recipe with bear skin on the workbench I’m guessing they’ll be added, not sure if I’m looking forward to seeing one of them or not!

Images copyright Hinterland, screen cap from game taken by me for review purposes
Images copyright Hinterland, screen cap from game taken by me for review purposes

Besides the wolves the main threat is the cold, exhaustion and starvation. These can all be seen in the menu when you use tab. This also has a quick link to the inventory and you can light a campfire outside or forage for wood almost anywhere in the map from here. I like this, it makes it a lot easier than having to go through a lot of different menus to find things. Dehydration is meant to be a problem and, if you can’t light a fire, I guess it could be, but this was the easiest of the bars to keep low for me. If you have a stove then melt snow and boil water and, as long as you do more than a litre, you’re fine for a couple of drinks. Learning where the wind is blowing from is very important, I’ve found myself freezing if I don’t take as much notice and then ‘condition’ (the % of life) goes down. When you get into a sheltered spot the game does tell you you’re getting warmer but there seem to be times where you don’t get warm when you should, like standing almost on top of a stove in an ice fishing hut. The calories are another important thing to keep an eye on, along with the % on any food you find, I’ve tended to eat the lower % ones first and haven’t had any food poisoning yet though I think the lowest was around 30%.

The controls on this game are fairly straight forward with wasd moving you around and the mouse controlling where you look, though I do find the mouse control for looking around can sometimes act up a bit. I’ve not had the same problem in other games so not sure why it’s doing it in this one. I do get a bit of lag in some spots, entering and leaving area like heading into the ravine took quite a bit longer than I expected but this is alpha and it could be a combination of the game and my computer.

Overall, if you like survival games and don’t mind that it’s in early development so there will be bugs then I really suggest looking at this game. If not at full price then it may appear in a sale some time. Even at the stage it is now I think I’ll be getting my money’s worth, it’s one that I keep thinking ‘one more time, next time I’ll survive longer’ and can end up losing quite a bit of time to this game.

I’m not sure how much of a review that was, more telling you about the game I suppose, but I do like it and will be playing a lot more of it. Now the tips I said about earlier, things I’ve picked up that I don’t think could be considered spoilers but might if you squint a bit. They may be obvious to you, I’ve not played that any survival games yet so sorry if they’re stupid mistakes to make.

  • The first thing I found out was a map is very handy, just use google to find one. I think the first three attempts I ended up wandering around aimlessly and died after finding very little to salvage, I must have just missed every single place as the map isn’t all that big. I prefer to go in blind with these things but I definitely needed it, at least to start with to find a place that might have food.
  • Do not go in the dam unequipped, it may look like it’ll be a good place to explore but stay away for a while until you have a shot gun or are more experienced at fighting wolves. And be ready to run, though I’m not sure if that helps much.
  • Don’t run all the time, walk as much as you can. This one is probably obvious to more experienced gamers but I’ve not played that many survival games where it’s mattered enough to kill me. I found so much food on one of my goes and thought I was ok for days but my energy got used up so quickly I had to keep sleeping and I ran out of food. In the end, when I died, I was surprised I’d only survived a day and a half, it seemed more like three or four. I think running didn’t help.
  • Be careful in the ravine, or best stay out of it. I died a couple of times when I wandered in there and fell a small distance, a distance I’d fallen in other areas of the map with no problems. Though it was probably a good thing I died from ‘fall injuries’ or I’d have been stuck on the ledge to starve to death. I didn’t find anything in there that was useful, maybe I was just unlucky there though.

Thanks for reading, sorry if I’ve not been much help if you’re trying to decide on the game. I’ve not done many game reviews so getting into it more and trying to learn how to get better.

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