The following is about ‘The Long Dark’, an impressive indie game from Hinterland Studio, in preview on Xbox One. What you are about to read isn’t based on real events, does not reflect Canada in any factual way, and no people or animals are actually being hurt in any way shape or form.
The game is in Early Alpha and therefore the story mode remains locked, however, the sandbox mode is playable, and boy is there a tonne to do. Enjoy, and maybe pick it up if you like the sound of what follows from what I experienced as I played.
Not sure what the game is all about? Check the toggle below for some details.
[toggle title=”About The Long Dark “]
The Long Dark is a first-person post-disaster survival simulation, set in the aftermath of a geomagnetic super storm that has destroyed North America’s technology infrastructure. In the first season of this episodic series, players experience this grim new reality through the eyes of bush pilot William Mackenzie, isolated with other survivors in the Northern wilderness as a result of the event.
Gameplay emphasizes exploration to gather resources and knowledge about the world, while mastering a deep survival simulation to overcome the myriad natural and man-made hazards of the new frontier. Players will also face difficult moral choices that will affect the outcome of gameplay, story, and ultimately, the course of humanity’s recovery.
I wake in the middle of a canyon, not sure how I got here, it is minus two degrees, with a chill factor of minus 5, I am cold, but have some basic supplies with me, I survey the land to my left, then my right, I have no idea what the time is, or which direction is east as the clouds above me seem intent on blocking the sun out.
I make my way left, there is a rise to my left, it might give me a better chance to survey my surroundings, might let me get a working idea of how to go about surviving in this harsh, cold wasteland. I reach the top of the incline, nothing, so I follow the ridge blindly for a few minutes, then I see a large dam.
The snow is beginning to pick up, the sky is getting greyer by the minute, I move quickly to the door, I open the door and step in, inside it is dark, somehow unsettling, I immediately set about gathering whatever I can find from the various draws and lockers, I find warmer clothing and some snack bars, many of which are deteriorated somewhat but food is food at this point
I find a tin of dog food, which will certainly come in handy at some point I have no doubt, I then also luck out by finding two boxes of matches, and this is just the first room, as I move through the dam I find a storm lantern and fuel, I am buoyant
I also find a drum in which I can burn wood and what have you safely, here I lay my bed roll, which was in my basic supplies, I know in this instance that I am okay for now, but I only have about a litre and a bit of water, two cans of soda and a can of juice.
I eat two of three granola bars that I had found in the first room, I have survived a day, which was more by luck than judgement, but I am tired and it is dark outside, I sleep, waking once to have some water, I am already running low, I will need to address this in the morning.
I wake, day light is pouring through the windows, I drink water first, give myself the best chance of surviving the day ahead, my first task however is finding something resembling a base, the dam is far too big, and I cannot bare that tapping sound I keep hearing, I’m sure it’s just a rattling old pipe, but it is like a mausoleum, so I will venture out, see what I find.
I leave some reclaimed wood and my bed roll behind however, if I cannot find something I will double back and begin to truly establish a base here, I make my way back the way I came and stumble upon a drawer I hadn’t checked first time around, inside I find a bullet, another box of matches and a book.
The book will come in handy, and I decide to keep the matches, but what of the bullet? Is there a gun here? I am torn, do I pursue a gun that may not be here, and further still may not even work, or do I push on, hold on to the bullet for now, and see what the day holds for me…
I push open the door to the outer world, the clear, blue sky is above me, the sun high above, it could be midday, it could be first thing in the morning, I am not sure.
I make my way slowly among the trees, then break out into a jog, I pick my route based on the area with the least wind exposure, wind is the enemy, it is cold, biting, and frankly cruel.
I first come to a river bend, my mind immediately races, I must be close to a source of water, which would be a major win, however, I am unable to tell which way the river had flowed, as it is frozen solid now, I choose left, and begin to follow the river, I reach a fork, keep right, and eventually find myself coming to and impassable cave formation, although cave is generous for this formation
I am cold, hungry, tired, and realise that I may be a long way from the dam, so I make a fire, have a chocolate bar and water, I have no more water, but I am refreshed enough for now, with enough calories coming into my system to keep my going I start to double back, and reach where the road forked
The way I had come is to my left, the bend which leads somewhere else is to my right, I go right, the desperate devil in me needs to rule this area out, I step into a lake bed, frozen over, tiny huts are positioned all around, I check the first, it is a fishing hole, frozen for now, but this is good, I also find an odd can of soft drink
This day has turned suddenly to a success, I step out of the hut and instinctively take the left side of the lake which curves around, and leads me to a shack, I and giddy, a shack!
I run to it, open the door and step in, the inside of the hut has shelves, and a storage cabinet, I check everywhere and find matches, and food aplenty, I however find no drop of fluid, this is growing to be a concern, time is now my enemy, I ignite a fire in the wood furnace, to get myself warm, this place will do very nicely, if even has a work bench where I put a hook I found in the fishing hut with some rope and make a fishing line
I then for the first time notice the stairs, I make my way to the stairs and head up, I stop with a start, a figure sat at the top of the stairs, a corpse.
I realise that this world I find myself in is brutal, unforgiving, I name him Bob.
I ask Bob if it’s okay to search him, he doesn’t protest, Bob had a better pair of gloves than me, once I’ve borrowed Bob’s gloves I proceed to search the upper room which features two double beds, and a cabinet, I search everything I can, then I scavenge wood from the various things in the hug that are of no use to me, I find an Axe in one of the beds.
Today is a good day, I store loads of my non essential items in a cupboard in the upper room, there is a fire burning furnace up here too, this is my base, I slip into the lower bunk, and have a well deserved nap.
After four hours of sleep I wake, check that Bob is okay, it is dark outside, but I want to have a quick glance at my surroundings, so I light the storm lantern I found in the dam, I spot a bed roll I must have previously missed.
I eat a granola bar and drink a can of drink, then head downstairs, there are two doors so I use the back door and am face to face with a deer.
The beautiful beast is spooked and runs off, I have no intention of chasing it, and as I make two steps forward I realise that visibility is a big enemy at night, so rule out any excursion at night, I u-turn and enter the hut, I head upstairs and light a fresh fire and sleep in the bed for another four hours.
I wake to light pouring in from outside, I have no idea how long it’ll last, nor what time it is, but I know it is approximately morning.
I store everything I don’t absolutely need, keeping an axe, clothes, four granola bars and the four cans of soft drink that represent all of my fluid supply.
I tell Bob about my plan, I tell him that I’m going to search the lake, see if there are any other huts, check the fishing huts for sure, and then head back here before it gets dark. But my priority would need to be water, I need to find some source of water.
Bear Grylls makes this look so easy, but I am tired, thirsty and a little hungry, so I return to my cupboard and take out the tin of pork and beans, I eat this cold, I have no pans, I then drink one of my cans of soft drink, leaving me three.
My time may be running out.
The first three fishing huts reward me with line and metal, I find some wood and then I see another cabin, I make my way to it and find two burned out huts and a third standing hut, which I enter, as I begin my search I become profoundly aware of the light outside dimming, I engage my storm light and begin to search at speed, I find nothing of merit, and consider that I may need to go back to my cabin.
I open the front door of this cabin and begin to make my way across the ice, in the distance I see a deer sprinting with a wolf in pursuit, I am glad that I am not on the menu yet, tired, encumbered I would be no match for the wolf, I make a longer path around the edge and can see the red of that gorgeous Canadian flag flapping in the air, that is my home for now, but I cannot get to it, there is something nearby, I inch closer until I realise that this isn’t a wolf.
It’s a f*****g bear.
I check my bag for anything I can use, but I have no idea what I would need to do to take on the bear so I move out of sight and watch as the Bear skulks past, I am out of sight and still alive. I move into my cabin again, I have both of my last two cans of pop, move upstairs, I ask Bob if he likes sport
Bob doesn’t like sport, I get start to set up a fire and my mind clicks, I check the closer at the upstairs stove and low and behold I can melt snow!
In among my supplies I have some tablets to purify water, so I melt and purify two litres of water, I drink some, eat another can of pork and beans.
I will live to see Day 4, Bob is happy, but still not very talkative.