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Here's How The Long Dark Plays

Get a first peek at the survival sim from ex-Relic, BioWare, Volition and Riot devs.

By Pete Davison. Published 6 months ago

Remember The Long Dark? The Kickstarter-funded survival sim from a bunch of ex-Relic, BioWare, Volition and Riot developers? Let me refresh your memory.

The game's crowdfunding efforts are currently a little short of the CA$200,000 developer Hinterland was hoping for, but with seven days left on the campaign there's still hope for the project, particularly as it's also supported by the Canada Media Fund to the tune of nearly CA$700,000. Presumably at least partly in an effort to stir up a little more interest, the team has released an early gameplay video of what we can expect the game to look like in motion. Here it is:

As you can see, the distinctive style of the game's concept art has carried across intact into the 3D environments of the game, but what's most interesting about the footage is how it demonstrates the number of simulation systems at play in the game.

As you play, the game will track not only your physical condition as a standard health percentage, but also how hungry, thirsty, warm and tired you are. Alongside that, your own physical limits will be determined by an ever-declining "calories" statistic whose consumption increases when you engage in physically demanding activities such as running. You'll need to eat not only to stave off hunger, but also to ensure you have enough energy to remain upright.

The early footage shows all of these statistics tracked via placeholder user interface elements, but the intention in the final game is to track all these factors invisibly in the background, with the only indication to the player of what is going on with their character coming through verbal prompts about how they are feeling. In this sense, there are gameplay elements that can be indirectly traced all the way back to 1985 open-world role-playing game Alternate Reality, which had similarly detailed simulations of the player character's bodily functions running in the background all the time you were wandering around trying not to get assassinated by grumpy hobbits.

The footage doesn't show any interaction with other survivors and instead focuses on the basic survival gameplay. You'll be able to start a fire to keep warm, for example, with the fire's effects being stronger if you light it in a sheltered location. Weather effects and time of day will have an impact on your character, too -- moving around in the day affords you greater visibility and warmth but also leaves you more open to attack. You'll need to contend with wild animals that realistically track you -- the footage shows a wolf that has been stalking the player for a while that only comes out into the open when the player turns their back. He's soon sent running for the hills by lighting a fire, though.

The plan for The Long Dark is to provide both an episodic story-based campaign and a freeform sandbox mode for those who simply want to see how long they can hold out against the elements. Hinterland estimates there's at least a year of development remaining on the project, but it's already looking very promising. If you'd like to show your support for what the team is doing, be sure to stop by the Kickstarter page in the next seven days and make a pledge.

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