What even is Hinterlands, The Long Dark?
Well, to be blunt:
The Long Dark is another kickstarter indie early-access game.
The game is being developed by Hinterland a studio founded by Raphael van Lierop who helped create Warhammer 40k: Space Marine.
Hinterland features many prominent people that helped create some other games you probably will of heard of:
- League of Legends
- God of War
- Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Recognise any of these games?
Van Lierop’s goal was to create a survival game that was a little different than the countless other survival games that involve things like zombies or nuclear war.
The Long Dark, in its current state, is a true survival game.
Currently the only mode available is a Sandbox Mode where you spawn randomly on the map with limited supplies and dwindling daylight.
There are no objectives or end goals.
Your only task is stave off the long dark, (aka death), for as long as possible.
This is done by gathering food, tools, clothing, medicine, and eventually hunting the local wildlife and crafting your own equipment and clothing.
Disclaimer: At the time of writing this article, the game is in v.265
There’s no end to the sense of realism of survival in this game.
Since you start out with basically no tools or means of survival, your immediate goal is find shelter from the cold and hopefully find food before you starve a slow and painful death.
What really stands out in this game is really how easy it is to die.
The temperatures can be brutal,food can be hard to find causing you to starve to death and your and the dangers of dehydration are always looming over you.
Luckily you can find plenty of water around you however it takes time to melt snow into water and then boil it for safe drinking.
Unfortunately, carrying too much water can easily encumber you as along with the tools and clothing you’ll quickly start to fill up the 30 kilogram limit on your character.
Go above this limit and you will move sluggishly and tire quickly, making you easy prey for wolves and bears.
You’ll move from building to building, searching for matches and wood to start fires with and stay warm.
You’ll Raid shelves and fridges, hoping to find a can of peaches or a soda. Maybe you get lucky and find a rifle with some ammo.
Suddenly you can now go on the offensive.
Those wolves that stalked you before have become food so that you can see the next sunrise.
You skin their hide and let it dry inside the hut that you’ve decided to make your base of operations. After a few of these encounters you finally have enough wolf hides to craft your very own wolf fur coat. It’s heavy, but you know that with this weight comes the much needed warmth in order brave the temperatures in search of saplings to craft a bow.
And this is how the Sandbox mode plays out…
You start by just trying to make it to the next day until you can gather enough raw materials to craft a set of clothing, snares to trap rabbits, a bow to hunt wolves and deer, or a line and hook to catch your own fish.
There are a few different maps that you can choose to start your game in, but you have to unlock them by actually traveling to those areas from the starting map.
Do I even need to list the reasons to give this game a shot?
Well first off, the game is beautiful.
The atmosphere and lighting immediately set it apart from other survival games.
When night is quickly setting in, your character is on the verge of dying, and you finally crest that hill at sunset to see a cozy lodge waiting for you, its hard not to stop for a moment and just gaze at the beautiful scenery.
When you first start playing the game it will seem brutal and uncompromising, and at times it most certainly is.
You start to learn the map and why you should or shouldn’t go to the different locations. You’ll tempt your luck and go exploring, only to be punished for your foolish bravado by being stranded in a blizzard with no food or water.
Its a wonderful feeling to go exploring the different areas and find kerosene for your long empty lantern, or discover a firestarter when you only have a few matches left.
When the darkness lifts with the sunset and you start your morning ritual of cooking up deer meat that you’ve managed to scavenge, sometimes you’ll find yourself thinking that you’ve earned this extra day of life.
There are things to watch out for with this game…
For the first little while it’s a great deal of fun and extremely compelling to keep trying to survive longer and longer.
Then the grind sets in.
Wake up. Boil water. Eat meat. Check snares. Kill and harvest animal. Go back to home. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
This isn’t to say that the game doesn’t have replay ability. It really does. However, even in Stalker, the games version of hard, it becomes quite easy to survive for an extended amount of time once you figure out the map and item locations.
This is, of course, still an Alpha game. For what it is, it’s been extremely well developed and Hinterland has some very ambitious goals for what they want to add to it.
Alas, until then this is what we have been given.
Is It Worth your hard earned cash?
Ultimately, this is the glooming issue with early-access games.
You are investing in an incomplete product with the hopes that the developers will deliver what they have promised.
As is, The Long Dark is a great deal of fun for several play throughs. (I myself have put in quite a few hours.)
If you are a fan of survival games and you’re looking for something that is a bit different from the zombie apocalypse scenario, this game is for you.
If you love the aesthetics of the game, but aren’t the biggest fan of survival games, this game could quite easily be for you as well.
If you’re a hard core survival fan looking for a challenge and want to get hundreds of hours out of your game, you best look elsewhere.
Hopefully in the near future we’ll be able to come back to this game and really dive in to the story Hinterland has planned.
Until then, good luck staving off the long dark.
— DoubleUpGaming (@DoubleUpGaming) November 7, 2015