The Long Dark: A Solitary Adventure

Let’s admit it, we have all bought games during the Steam sales which we leave to collect dust in our libraries for years. The Long Dark was exactly that for me, bought during the winter reductions and ignored for the best part of 2019. Recently I decided to take a brief break from multiplayer games and decided to take The Long Dark out of limbo.

The Long Dark came out in early access during a time when the popularity of survival-sandbox genre for PC games was at its peak, with the release of games such as The Forest and Rust. TLD took a different route, however, focusing on long term development, with the latest episode being released October 22nd.

The premise is simple: The main character (Will Mackenzie) is hired by his ex-wife (Astrid Greenwood) to drive a plane to a remote location in post-apocalyptic Canada. The plane crashes after a mysterious electromagnetic phenomenon, resulting in Will suffering injuries and being separated from Astrid.

The game has great longevity, with the single-player campaign lasting an average of 12-15 hours across the 3 episodes in the campaign as well as a sandbox mode possibly giving you an extra 10-15 hours. The first episode holds your hand all the way through while Will learns the basics of survival, both crafting and hunting. You will also get to know -and avoid- the local wildlife and become acquainted with some of the other characters as you search for your ex-wife. The following chapters focus more on the story and gameplay and eventually allow you to play in someone else’s shoes.

Graphically, The Long Dark does an outstanding job with the Unity Engine, presenting clean, appealing textures and relatively smooth animations. The art style is perfectly used to convey the atmosphere of the vast, cold emptiness of northern Canada, and it does not require unreasonable amounts of resources to run, as my mid-range pc was able to keep a stable 100 FPS. 

The Long Dark is a complete and entertaining title which (thanks to its continuous development) brought a breath of fresh air to the oversaturated market of the survival-sandbox. And while certain tasks, such as gathering resources and crafting, can feel repetitive at times, it is a characteristic of the genre and does not feel monotonous or dull. Overall the gameplay is fun and easily engages you with the atmosphere and story, which combined with an alluring art style makes this a great title to get that survival game fix.

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Marco Rizzo

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September 2021
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