The Weekend Hangover: The Long Dark


The Weekend Hangover is our Monday rumination of the games or game we played over the weekend. Sometimes there is alcohol involved in the hangover we’re nursing, but most other times there’s just too much gaming.

Produced with the financial support of the Canada Media Fund and with the additional support of a successful Kickstarter campaign, The Long Dark is a first-person survival game I return to every now and then. I appreciate its difficulty, and the recent Vigilante Flame update brought a few more changes to make it even more challenging.

It was hard enough as it is to get the hang of surviving a punishing wilderness. An unrelenting weather keeps you close to death’s door. The basic human needs are a struggle to maintain every in-game day. Scavenging for what I need to stay alive and the tough choices of where to go and what to prioritize are what make this game for me.

The overhaul to the cooking mechanics that come with Vigilante Flame threw me for a spin. Rather than simply performing the task via a simple menu UI, survivors are now required to physically place a their food in a cooking appropriate container and then onto a hot surface. Undercooking and overcooking are real problems now.

Are these and other changes good? I say yes. The added realism might throw off newcomers, but cooking really changes how you manage your time each day. Everything you do in The Long Dark passes time, after all. Now I find myself preparing food and then going off to scavenge for wood while I wait for it to cook.  

The longest I’ve gone in The Long Dark so far has been 10 days. I could have survived longer, had I not accidentally gone to sleep outside for six hours without a fire to keep me warm. That mistake led to hypothermia and I died in my sleep. Bravo.

When I bought The Long Dark, I jumped straight into its Survival mode, but the story-driven campaign mode, The Wintermule, remains untouched and waiting for me. The next time I fire it up, I might finally take a go at it.