The Long Dark Review - Is It Good or Bad?

The Long Dark Review 2022
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The Long Dark Review - Is It Good or Bad?

I will be reviewing this game based on my time spent with it and the amount of enjoyment I have had with that experience.

What’s the Game About?

The Long Dark is an atmospheric survival sim that focuses on mindful exploration, item management, and hunting, gathering, and defending yourself from the elements, ranging from Wild Life, The Cold, Sickness, and Conditions (Known as Afflictions), and even Dangerous Terrain. The Long Dark was created by Hinterland games, a Canadian Game Development Studio, as a Kickstarter-funded project in 2013 that has raised over $250,000 and nearly 7,000 backers. The first full version of the game was released on August 1, 2017 with their first finished build of the game that came with the first episode of its story mode; Wintermute, titled “Do Not Go Gentle” but even before that the game has sold more than 750,000 copies of the game through Steam’s Early Access program. In 2021, with 4 years worth of updates and 3 Wintermute episodes later, the game has sold 5 million copies with an overwhelmingly positive review on Steam.

Game Story:

The Long Dark has two modes, a Survival Mode, where you are put into the game with no given objectives but to survive for as long as possible. And the Game’s episodic Story Mode called “Wintermute” offers a more linear. objective-based and story-driven gameplay that explains how the world of the game world has reached a very desolate and ruined state and how the remaining survivors are trying to survive. You play as pilot Will Mackenzie and Dr. Astrid Greenwood alternately throughout the story after their plane crashes deep in the Canadian wilderness after a mysterious cataclysmic event. Stranded, Hurt and Separated, the two of them must forge through the hostile wilderness, brave the cold and discover the mysteries of Great Bear Island. There is intrigue and a great sense of desperation in the story of the game so far, as well a given sense of dread as you continue your journey throughout the island and meet the interesting, though somewhat forgettable (at least in the first 2 episodes) characters and what drives them to continue living in a world that’s damaged beyond repair. It does take a bit before the game’s story gets interesting as the first 2 episodes act as a sort of pseudo tutorial for the game’s survival mode (where the real fun of the game can be found). The Story picks up the pace after Episode 2 as you finally encounter a different sort of threat other than mother nature and the narrative starts to show real promise. 

The-Long-Dark-Review-Story"Astrid and Will discussing their marital disaster, moments before an actual disaster"


The Gameplay is where The Long Dark truly shines with it’s engaging and well thought out mechanics as there is always more to do and worry about as you progress through the game (Food and Water needs degrade over time and you need a steady supply of both, as well as keeping your body temperature above freezing and having enough rest or else you will pass out and possibly left to die).This is especially true in survival mode as you only get one chance to survive or lose everything you’ve worked so hard for. But the way the game handles that permadeath mechanic is that it doesn’t shy away from being punishing while still feel be very very rewarding as you learn more of the tricks of the trade and take advantage of the mechanics and how they can utilized, memorize the incredibly vast regions of great bear island and the more days you survive ; your chosen player character (having a choice between male or female with Will or Astrid’s voice and character models in Survival Mode) gain more experience points through the actions that they make (cooking, repairing, etc) and gives you a bit more comfort in knowing that you’re gonna make it through a few more days with what you have on hand. Survival Mode adds a lot to the game’s replay value as you will surely die again and again in survival mode (Wintermute has a load game function that lets you easily progress through the narrative while Survival mode only has an autosave function that periodically saves your game and initiates as soon as you enter a region, get attacked or die) and Hinterland games constantly updates the game with new items, mechanics and even complete regions that adds a huge chunk and value to the game.

"Fire is essential for Warmth, Cooking and Illuminating Dark Areas"



The Long Dark doesn’t have the traditional survival game “hit things enough times with an ax until it dies” sort of combat, instead, it’s less about needing to kill something and more like how to avoid dying from various things, which also happens to include predatory wildlife like wolves and bears. The combat in the game mostly revolves around ranged weaponry and not letting dangerous animals get close to you, that is if you’re lucky enough to find any one of the few rare weapons in the game. There are only 5 types of weapons in the game, 4 of which are considered rare spawns with only 1 of them being craftable;

  • Pebbles that you can throw to kill small game like rabbits or deter wolves if you manage to hit them. 
  • Distress Pistols are only effective as a deterrent against predatory animals. 
  • Revolver Pistols used for defensive maneuvers against dangerous wildlife can kill a wolf in one shot if you manage to hit them in the head.
  • Hunting Rifles perfect for its namesake, able to take down deer and wolves with one shot.
  • Hunting Bows that can be crafted along with their ammunition.  

The game doesn't have melee combat, instead, it has a “resist” mechanic where if a wolf is mauling you to death, you have a chance to deter the attack and even wound the wolf depending on whether you have the right tools like a knife or hatchet on hand. With Bears and Moose, however, you have no chance of escape if you do get mauled by these two, it is guaranteed to leave you in bad shape.


Progression System:

The Long Dark’s progression system is outside of the Story Mode’s narrative linear progression. Survival Mode’s progression system is tied to the “Skills” state of the player. Skills are players' abilities that can be leveled up by performing various actions like Fishing, Mending, Shooting, Cooking, or Fire Starting. Improving a Skill is based on performing these individual actions successfully or by reading a matching skill book for that particular skill that can be found throughout the map. Successfully leveling up a skill grants you additional bonuses related to that particular skill like being less likely to fail at mending clothing or having prevention from getting food poisoning from cooked food. Aside from the Skills, Your progression in Survival Mode is based on how many days you’ve survived, the areas that you’ve visited and discovered using surveying methods. These are all recorded in the game’s “Journals” with the option to save them after each run.



The Long Dark’s visual design is nothing short of phenomenal, the game’s art style, combined with its amazing audio design as well as its very challenging but slow-paced nature lets the overall tone sink in. Either it’s enjoying the respite of a sunny day as you trek among the trees and snow even, hearing the silent yet crisps steps of your boots or being caught in a blizzard as you can barely see 3 feet ahead of you, the wind howling, the snow raging in your direction and the distant glimmer of wolf’s eyes trailing in front of your even if it’s just looking about the horizon from an elevated vista, a campfire crackling near you as your tea boils. Every moment playing the Long Dark is an audiovisual treat.


"The Quiet Apocalypse can be quite Breathtaking, metaphorically and literally"


 The Long Dark was made by Hinterland games and they have done an incredible job over the game’s life span and it’s still being updated with new content and features with the last episode of its Wintermute mode still to come. While buggy at times and that can ruin a run if it occurred during stressful moments. Hinterland Games consistently addresses player issues, takes suggestions and advice, and implementing bug fixes and item balances. the team over at Hinterland Games treats the long dark with a lot of love even if the game is designed to be quite the opposite. 


The Game currently costs $14.86 on Steam, $46.99 on the Playstation Store, $34.99 on the Nintendo e-shop, and $32.20 on the Xbox Marketplace and is also included in Microsoft’s Gamepass program. Only a one-time purchase is necessary and all future updates are free.


Final Verdict:



  • Incredible Atmosphere 
  • Challenging but Rewarding
  • Superb Visual and Audio Design 
  • Story has a lot of potential to be good.


  • Difficult to get into
  • Story drags on for 2 episodes


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A huge nerd with a lot of love for stories about overcoming the odds, love prospering and well executed violence
Gamer Since: 2000
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Halo: Infinite
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Walking Dead, Metro: Last Light, Dark Souls 3

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