Anyone who knows me personally, follows me on twitter, or is an avid reader of this blog; is aware that I am incredibly excited at the promise of Hinterland Studio’s The Long Dark. How could one manage to not be excited by the idea of a true survival game set in the Canadian wilderness and created by a pedigree of creators that this industry has never seen before?
My fevered anticipation of the game only increased as the project began to move forward and subsequently more information trickled out. Details about the games’ cast, mechanics, and concept art all sent my imagination ablaze. My time spent day dreaming about The Long Dark only got worse after I had the opportunity to interview Hinterland Studio’s Founder and Creative Director Raphael Van Lierop at the start of the games’ Kickstarter campaign.
However the sobering fact remained that as interesting as these details are in theory, there was little more to go on that notes and concept art. I had to ask myself, was I getting myself worked up over nothing? I drew on memories of the past, remembering the many times I’d been fooled by unreleased projects in my history with the medium. The sheer number of ways in which creators have fooled me with promises of grandeur and graphical fidelity is astounding, but it is ultimately my fault as I fall victim to my idealistic and optimistic views of what this medium has the potential be.
Given my high hopes and recent self-doubt I’ve begun to watch The Long Dark with a sense of pessimism, not wanting to be fooled again. Even as beautiful screenshots were released I remained steadfast in viewing the project with sober eyes.
Today all that changed.
This morning I found myself privy to package which contained the first gameplay footage of The Long Dark, and I could not have loaded the video faster if I had tried. The video begins with what looks like yet another conceptual image, but it is not an image at all… it’s real.. It is almost mind boggling how faithfully they’ve managed to model the game world after the art, it is truly something to behold.
Raphael Van Lierop then begins to narrate the video as the camera pans around the stunning wilderness. He begins to speak at length about the game mechanics, describing how elements such as hunger, thirst, health, fatigue, and temperature affect gameplay. As the protagonist Will Mackenzie you have to tend to all of your personal needs simply to survive, but as the video plays on it becomes evident that you won’t only be combating yourself.
All it takes is a howl of a wolf to send shivers down your spine and remind you that even at your loneliest, you are never truly alone. Building a fire can help keep you save from predators and aid in keeping yourself warm. True as always the gift of Prometheus is essential to survival.
Perhaps the most astounding portion of the preview is the segment in which the day/night cycles are examined and you are able to watch as the marvelously rugged world is lit in different and alluring manners. Not assigned strictly to aesthetic, the cycle also affects temperature, visibility, and safety.
By the end of the video I sat staring at my display in awe of the beauty I had just seen. Even in its current raw state of being a prototype The Long Dark is among the most gorgeous games I have ever seen and when you learn of the depth in which mechanics interact with the visuals it only becomes that much more beautiful.
If I still haven’t managed to convince you, take a look for yourself; your eyes will thank you for it.