The Long Dark is the Greatest Survival Game Ever
There are hundreds of survival games out there. Some are subpar, some are god awful. A few years ago, I discovered this gem called The Long Dark. Back then it was unpolished but over the years it has improved drastically. This game has been in early access for a while and although they have a story mode that’s not what ill be focussing on in this video.
The Long Dark is made by Hinterland Studios, Canadian Developers. It was initially released in 2014 on early access and made on the unity engine. It has a great reception from fans, it has 9/10 on steam and 85% on PC Gamer. I haven’t seen a lot of people talk about this and I’m honestly so confused as to why. In my opinion it is the best survival game out there. Full stop.
Again, I am only talking about the sandbox mode in this video and won’t be mentioning the story mode. The only story we really get in sandbox mode is that the apocalypse has hit in form of a geo storm and has covered everything in snow and made it cold – basically. Basically, you are by yourself and you must survive the harsh landscapes to get supplies and explore your surroundings.
The most important aspect of this game is the fact you are alone. Apart from the occasional dead body and wandering predator, you are wandering the plains alone. This loneliness only heightens the fear.
Weather is the most important feature of the game. It is also the biggest killer. The majority of sandbox is fighting the cold to travers the different landscapes. There are blizzards which are impossible to see or survive through. The cold mechanics are smart. The clothes you are wearing, the time of day you are out and how much it has snowed, all factors into your survival rate. It is so unpredictable and dynamic; you are always kept on your toes.
Combat doesn’t happen often in sandbox mode. The rifle is a rare drop item, so you must find more creative ways to fight back or run away. The developers aren’t completely evil, they have included abandoned cars and little huts along the roads for you to hide in but find yourself out in the open... then flares and a bit of luck are your best bet. The shooting mechanics feel realistic and terrifyingly slow. If you miss your target, then reloading takes up precious time that you probably don’t have (sorry).
Moving on to what you will be shooting at. Wolves are the most common predator in the game. You can hear their movements through the snow when they are nearby, which should give you some warning to get the hell out of there. The last thing you want to do is get caught in a full-scale chase with a wolf, it wont last long. They are cleverly designed and can be difficult to outsmart. If you don’t have a weapon, then a flare or a distraction will be your best bet. Wolves aren’t the only threat to you. Bears are probably the last thing you want to meet in that cosy cave you just found. Surviving a bear attack will take a lot of skill and resources that you are probably low on. Plus, they are scary af.
Let’s talk about the core feature of this title, the survival. It is hard, but balanced and feels achievable once you know the quirks. Let’s start with coldness. It is the main thing you are going to need to manage throughout your explorations. You can do this by finding warmer clothes and layering, building a fire, staying indoors and staying dry. Moving quickly from shelter to shelter are vital to staying alive. You can camp basically anywhere but that doesn’t mean you should. Sleeping in the wrong place will result in a quick death. The cooking system is easy and hassle free. When you cook an animal carcass or a can of beans, you can pass time until it is ready, so you don’t have to sit around doing nothing. If you can’t find medication or bandages there will always be a natural option for you to find in the wilderness. If you are attacked – and survive – then there is always an opportunity to survive it, no matter how slim. Perseverance and trial and error are the only ways to survive the long dark.
In my opinion, there is no survival game quite like the long dark. It is unique, beautiful and terrifying.