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Serious Survival in The Long Dark

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image courtesy of hinterlandgames.com

For a genre that?s supposed to have a lot of potential, survival games aren?t a-plenty. There are survival games, yes, but these pits you against monsters and psychos and there hasn?t been a good one that pits you against the elements alone. When talking about survival games coupled with monsters and other hideous creatures hunting you, Siren: New Translation and Fallout: New Vegas? Hardcore mode comes to mind. However, these require you to survive not only the environment, but the creatures hunting for you as well.

A Skyrim mod, Hardcore Survival and Realism, has been released which takes the survival genre into account. With this mod, you are pitted against the elements of the Skyrim wilderness. White takes on a whole new meaning, as you begin to dread the once-beautiful winter climate of Skyrim. You have to constantly battle with sudden blizzards, the constant snowing, and of course, hunger, fatigue, and sickness brought on by constant exposure to near-zero climates. Don?t even get started on having to combat hypothermia.

Recently, a game that is under development by Hinterland Games, The Long Dark, is trying their hand at breaking into this very tricky niche. In the game, you are cast into the role of Will Mackenzie, a bush pilot who crash-lands in a remote wilderness, being forced to do so by a mysterious ?geomagnetic disaster?. Currently, game development is at alpha, but for sure, the finished game will reveal more about what happened to cause this event, and why. As of the alpha, your current goal for the game is to stay alive. Good luck doing that in the frozen wilderness that Hinterland created.

In real life, surviving in the wilderness takes a combination of luck and skill. You can?t just walk around in the wilderness without anything that would keep you warm, and you also need to hunt for your food. This game takes that into account, with the character keeping you immersed with accurate comments about his condition. There are a few animals you can hunt in the wilderness, but again, good luck with that; they are just as skittish as their real life counterparts, and just as hard to hunt down.

You have to pay attention to your character?s condition or else you won?t be able to last through the night. The game constantly reminds you this with (at this point) text on the lower right corner of your screen, telling you how hungry or tired your character is. And don?t even try sleeping on an empty stomach; as in real life, you won?t survive the encounter. The game takes realism into account, even managing the amount of calories you need to survive or to forage for firewood or food as you try to survive in the wild.

Very few things can be said against this alpha version of the game,and?Hinterland seems to be going in the right direction if they want to create a game that?s just as true to surviving the elements as it is in real life. Over all, this demo promises great things about a game that?s trying to make a unique niche work.

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