Two weeks ago, Fortnite has launched on the PlayStation Store, marking itself as the first official Early Access title on this particular platform. Yes, Ark: Survival Evolved, and 7 Days, can also be found on the PlayStation 4, but according to the respective developers, both these titles should be regarded as ‘complete releases’. And earlier this week, yet another borderline broken game has joined the ranks of the pseudo completed games such as the above two, and the title in question is the highly anticipated, The Long Dark.

The Long Dark has launched across all three popular platforms, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, on the first of August 2017. And with it came the survival mode, which has been in game since its first inception on Steam Early Access; Challenge Mode, which is basically the Survival Mode with limitations, and Story Mode titled Wintermute. And despite of the fact that the Story Mode only features 2 out of 5 episodes, the current version of the title features a reasonable amount of content. Within the confines of the above-mentioned Survival Mode, players can enjoy a fully-fledged version of what The Long Dark initially was meant to be. This particular mode gives the player complete freedom over his/her actions, and allows one to experience the title in the way it was meant to be experienced all those years ago. As it features all crafting, and survival components which are missing from the Challenge Mode, and the Wintermute Story episodes, which many regard to be the centre point of The Long Dark package

When it comes to the ‘complete product’, the Challenge Mode feels a little underwhelming. It recycles all the all the content which can be found within the Story, and Survival Modes, but simply applies to them objectives such as ‘escape the old bear’, or ‘survive three days in each of fifteen locations’. And one could say that such mode is simply unnecessary, since The Long Dark possess a story component. But in saying that, one would be incorrect, as the Challenge Mode is superior to the Wintermute experience in every way possible.

When Wintermute was first announced, it was treated as the golden boy of The Long Dark package. Teased as a mature story, which is set to concentrate on matters of life and death, it was used to spearhead the marketing campaign prior to the titles official ‘launch’. However, the closer The Long Dark was to its official release date, the more worrying the Wintermute was beginning to appear. First came the announcement that unlike its main competitor Kona, The Long Dark will not launch with its Story Mode intact, but in episode like segments. And the fact that the title launched with two episodes on the first of August, was treated as a major victory. However, once The Long Dark has appeared on all three platforms the content of the Wintermute story suddenly became irrelevant, as its technical state become the star of the show – but not the one which shines brightly, but instead one which is rapidly dying.

The Wintermute story component, gameplay wise, begins with you getting up to scratch with title’s survival components. It teaches you how to drink, eat, and stay warm in order to survive the lethal post-apocalyptic Canadian Landscape. Soon after you learn the basics, the tutorial goes into more depth on healing, and crafting, before sending you on what the developers regard as an epic adventure.

The first part of the first episode of Wintermute, requires you to reach a village called Milton, and on the way there, you come across numerous counts of wildlife. First come the rabbits, but not long after, hostile wolves also make an appearance. And at this point Wintermute is at its best, as it forces you sprint between dormant vehicles, in order to avoid an untimely demise. And while encounters with wolves create a lot of tension, they also give a look at what Wintermute is really like. As whenever you enter a vehicle to avoid being mauled to death, the wolves come right towards you. In fact, they come so close that their heads clip through the car door, and once this happens, they begin to spin until they are far enough from the vehicle that they no longer clip through its model.

By the time you reach the village of Milton, you’ll get used to seeing models clipping through each other while out of cut-scenes. However, the first encounter with an NPC proves that clipping is not just reserved for the wildlife as your character model, as well as the ones of other non-playable characters, can also do so during cut-scenes. And it is hard to believe that anybody would Greenlight a cut-scene where the protagonist is standing with his leg situated firmly within a solid chair. And even when the camera is taken away from this confusing sight, it is pointed right at the NPC called Grey Mother, who herself is clipping through the chair which she is sitting on.

The above-mentioned clipping of objects is problematic, as it breaks the immersion whenever it occurs. However, it is nothing when compared to the technical state of the title, which makes itself known once you enter the village of Milton. While in Milton, you’ll be sent on a seemingly never-ending fetch quest, as each and every objective within the first episode requires you to collect items, and bring them back to the aforementioned NPC. However, in order to fetch certain items such as food, or lock-box key, you’ll have to enter buildings, and when entering a building there is about 10/90 chance that the game will crash during transition.

Within the first episode, my game has crashed between 15 and 20 times, and I was forced to repeat the same objectives repeatedly. At times, after a crash, I would also lose certain items, as they would just disappear from my inventory. Within the first episode I’ve lost an axe, crowbar, two torches and four cans of dog food, which have simply disappeared. On top of that, this section of the Wintermute also featured a forced encounter with a wolf, during the retrieval of bank vault code. However, because that wolf was just as stable as the rest of the game, and couldn’t be scared away with a torch, I’ve also lost a jacket, hat, and most of my health. And had to pray in order to stay alive on my way out of Milton and into the second episode of Wintermute.

Second episode of this epic story, was even more broken than the first, and I still find it mindboggling how any sane person would allow for something this to be released for public consumption. Within this part of the story, crashes were even more common than before, as now the title would crash whenever it felt like. Running on a rail track? Crash. Lighting a torch? Crash. Talking to an NPC? Crash. Firing a flare gun? Crash. And this continued, as I struggled through the episode. And despite all the inconveniences, I was determined to finish it. That is until crashes began to erase my progress, and once I’ve completed an objective of fixing a rifle, which took me nearly three hours with all the crashes, the title crashed once again. But this time, upon restarting the crash has also taken away all my progress.

Three hours of constant struggle against the hostile environment as well as the game itself, went right into the skip, and at that point I gave up. I simply couldn’t continue, as on my way back to hand in the fixed rifle, I was attacked by a bear twice. First, I scared him/her off with a single bullet which I’ve found in a lodge. But during the second encounter, I had nothing to defend myself with and the bear got the better of me, and ate nearly all my clothes, and seemingly my rifle as it was also gone after that encounter. Losing all my clothes, as well as my only weapon, was really disheartening, but I was willing to continue no matter what. But once I’ve lost my story-related progress, I’ve decided that it was the time to stop.

In short, The Long Dark, is a perfect example of an indie game which has been created by people who have seemingly forgotten that they are in fact ‘indie’, and tried to reach the AAA levels of game development. But what resulted from their efforts is frankly pathetic. The Wintermute story is borderline unplayable, and I doubt that anybody who doesn’t have to write a review will get even halfway through the first episode. The story itself is dull, and gameplay elements, which are dated to say the least, do very little in order to keep the player engaged.

In all honesty, the Wintermute should have never been released in the state which it is in right now. And if you take it out of the equation, the Survival and Challenge Modes which also share flaws with the Story mode, are simply not worth the baffling $34.99 which the developers are asking for. The Long Dark is the title which many compared to the rather brilliant Kona which released earlier this year. But the final product pales in comparison to what the developers of Kona has achieved. On top of that Kona was released in an immaculate state with all its content for $19.99, and it ‘really makes you think’ how did the developers of The Long Dark justify such an incredibly high price tag, for such horrendously poor title, which The Long Dark is in its current form.

The Official Theme song of Hinterland Studio’s The Long Dark



Author

Kamil

My name is Kamil, and I'm the 'Feature Man'. I write news, and reviews just like everybody else, however, feature articles are my true forte. And this is not because I'm another self-centered, pseudo-intellectual games journalist, but because there are many discussion worthy matters which go unnoticed in the flurry of other video-game related articles. If you want to read more of my #HotTakes and #Opinions, or if you simply want to fight me over the internet, you can follow me on Twitter @Kama_Kamilia.