The seasons are changing and most of us are having some sort of a time getting adapted. We find our bodies rebelling to one or another degree, and right now I’m in one of those low-grade fever achy tight-throated zombie drone funks. I don’t play many computer games. Only three really, but they all have their place. The Long Dark is my top pick to play when I have a cold or feel miserable. I’ve had this game for over a year I, and I still enjoy it immensely especially when I feel like crap. This game won’t make me feel better, but I feel better than the poor dude who’s lost in the game. I may have a cold but at least I’m not getting my face ripped off like Jeremiah Johnson. And heaven knows I’m better off than all the frozen stiffs stuck in the snow who rarely drop anything for me. (You see what I did there?) In this game, I can consider myself the healthiest person in the world.
Perhaps I should mention that my other two games are MMOs. Those involve a lot of people. If you’re so sick you can’t stand the thought of saying “Hi, kin” when you log on then you are in business here. There is nobody around. Bodies, but nobody. I think they might be changing this in story mode, but maybe not. I haven’t got a clue. I’m to busy playing to mess much with forums.
The game has a variety of modes, each which serve a different purpose. If your cold isn’t that bad and you want to run around like Kevin Costner then choose Pilgrim Mode. In this mode the wolves are your best buddies. I don’t mean that like you, I mean they stay the crap away from you. They’re still man’s best friend because they’ll kill other animals that you can then scare them away from. I honestly don’t recall what the bears are doing in this mode. I choose to stay away just in case. Navel-gazers and OCD completionists/map makers/screenshot junkies play here.
In Voyager Mode the wolves might attack, or they might not depending largely on what you do keep them away. This mode is right if you’re not quite a pansy but you’re not Bear Grylls in Stalker Mode. Voyager’s where I usually hang out when I’m not sick and wouldn’t mind sticking around a bit. This mode is like flipping a coin to see if you get lots of stuff or if you have to hunt for everything. Like I said, it’s good if you want a decent chance to survive (you still won’t for awhile) & have fun (you probably will immediately) but don’t want to be thought a wuss. The challenge is good.
Okay. There’s the really tough Stalker Mode where all the animals hate you (exaggeration), but let’s be serious. If you want to do that why not just go the gusto and play Interloper Mode where the whole of Canada hates you. Let’s say you don’t have an allergy or cold, you have the flu. You’re praying to the toilet to finish you off. That’s what Interloper is for. If you wish that you could be eaten by a bear, wolf, or rabbit then this mode is for you. The rabbits won’t eat you, but you won’t have time to think about that because everything else will kill you first. You thought Bear Grylls tough for drinking his own pee? Psha! Bear Grylls might be chewing his fingers off in this mode. Think you have what it takes? It doesn’t matter. You’ll die. Eventually.
So let’s see where this leaves us. I guess most of us when we’re feeling puny and pitiful want to know that this somehow is going to end mercifully. We’re just looking for something to distract us long enough to remember that life is worth living. What’s cool about The Long Dark is that if you want to see how long you can live you can, and if you want to see how fast you can die in an hour you can do that too. If you just want to wander about aimlessly and stare at the beautiful scenery you can. If you want to challenge yourself beyond the modes the devs developed you can. For example, I have one character I’m trying to keep alive without any gun, bow, or trap and just living off the land without killing anything–just scavenging in Voyager Mode.
I want to talk about the graphics. Seems every other Twitter post I see is someone going gaga over the artwork. The devs don’t rely on technical wonder to make it look realistic. Instead they’ve left that up to you and your mind’s eye. They’ve focused on making it FEEL real, and because it feels as real as any game I’ve played my imagination easily fills in the details. It works! Instead of precise lines and textures the team so far has relied more on realistic lighting, atmosphere, and subtle color shifts and weather moods. It’s astounding.
When people aren’t talking about how beautiful The Long Dark is, they’re talking about how they have to put on a sweater when they play. Or how much tea they‘ve started drinking. Or how they hear crows and look up in the sky. Or how they come out the front door and carefully look left and right, <.< >.> like that, and left and right again before they step off the porch. This game gets to you. If you’re allergic to peanut butter be careful. There’s lots of it (unlike something else…grr).
The first dozen times you play you should record your vitals and submit them to your PCP as a stress test. I think this game boosts the immune system. If not for The Long Dark I’d be much sicker today I’m sure of it.
There are a couple criticisms I have at the moment:
1. After a recent update I can now see my arms. But those aren’t my arms. This compromises my immersion. I hope they’ll reconsider at least for Sandbox Mode. If we’re playing a character in Story Mode then that’s one thing, but if I am simply me abandoned in the vast freezing forsaken Canadian wilderness I really don’t want to see what I look like.
2. Pie. There is none in game…grr. Yet. The fact that there’s no pie and I still play speaks volumes. Gross oversight, but this is Beta. I’m sure it’s a bug.
Ok. That’s it. This is my first game review. I’ve tried not to edit to much cause I’m not a writer, and I respect those that do so why put on airs? You’ve read this, now go buy The Long Dark if you haven’t already. If it’s on sale, great. If not, still buy it and throw the devs a bone. They deserve it.
Thanks for your time. I’m of to get some tea. And pie.
Brigo Halefoot is a hobbit from LotRO’s Crickhollow server who also plays Landmark. He stresses frequently over which game to play. You may find also him on Twitter @Halefoot.