Diving into The Long Dark

Just like that I'd been playing for 8 hours straight

The Long Dark is a survival game set during Winter on Great Bear Island, somewhere in the Canadian wilderness.

Quite a few of my friends had already played this and, with it being on Xbox Game Pass, I thought I'd give it a go. I did not expect it to draw me in this much.

Look & feel

There is a sense of walking through a painting with this game. And it's not always the typical soft Kincaid-esque view of Winter.

screen shot of frozen lake

Deep greys and blues abound. The subtle orange light from my meager fires, dispel the barest of shadows in dark buildings I seek shelter. Sometimes it's bright and I can see far away. But an instant whiteout can appear and I can't tell direction or see a foot in front of me.

The sound design is immersive. Tin roofs rattle in the wind, wood creaks, wolves howl and the slow trudge of your feet in the snow seems hypnotic. There's also a great score of plaintive piano and strings that ebb in and out.

Story mode

I decide to play through the story, rather than dive in with the survival mode straight off.

You play a charter plane pilot with one passenger. During a storm there are green lights in the sky and you lose all electrics. The plane goes down and you, not only have to survive, but reunite with your separated passenger.

They give you enough backstory to make you care about the characters, and a dash of mystery about what has happened to cause this "quiet apocalypse".

screen shot of aurora in the sky

Everything hurts

Stand too close to a fire, I burn myself. Walk up/down a steep incline, sprain my ankle/wrist. Stay out too long, hypothermia. Eat something kinda dodgy, food poisoning.

Add in wolves, bears, thin ice, you get the picture. As there's no fast travel. You have to walk everywhere, so standing still to get your bearings, or carrying too much making you slower, can be a death sentence.

Even with all this, the foraging and keeping a cabin is therapeutic. Until the dread sets in when you run out of wood.