Today The Long Dark joins the growing list of survival games on Steam Early Access. Unlike DayZ and Rust, though, Long Dark is a single-player, story-driven experience.
In The Long Dark, a solar flare has knocked out electronics throughout the world. The player is Will Mackenzie, a pilot trying to eke out a living in this chaotic new world. He has to stave off dehydration, starvation, hypothermia and other injuries. The weather and wildlife present constant threats to his health.
Maybe the biggest challenge, though, will be dealing with other humans. The Steam Early Access page for The Long Dark says that the player will run into both friendly and hostile survivors. They must decide whether to help others or simply look out for themselves.
The developers promise "dozens of hours" of open-world survival through the Sandbox mode. The game's not just an endurance test in randomized worlds, though. There's also going to be a Story mode that features a full cast of characters living in the post-blackout world.
This is a Steam Early Access game so the usual warning is needed. The Long Dark is only in alpha at the moment which means that there's still a lot left for the developers to add or revise. For example, the Story mode hasn't even been implemented yet.
"While the game is already very stable and highly playable, the Sandbox is constantly evolving," the Steam Early Access listing says. "Features and balance tuning may change from version to version. Content will be added, some may be removed, and entire systems might change or disappear. We appreciate your patience as we go through this process of evolving the game with community feedback."
The upside is that you get to play the game right now and offer feedback as it progresses through development. Furthermore, you're getting the game and all future updates at $19.99. The price that will "will almost certainly increase" once the full game is live.
The downside, of course, is that you're gambling that the game will be finished or will evolve in the way you want. Steam doesn't give refunds for Early Access titles except in rare occasions. I'd suggest checking out some video footage and determining whether or not you'll enjoy the game in its present form before spending any money.
The Long Dark is the first game from studio Hinterland Studio. The Vancouver-based company was founded by Raphael Van Lierop, the director of Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine who also served as producer on multiple Company of Heroes and Dawn of War games. His team includes God of War writer Marianne Krawczyk and Saints Row technical director Alan Lawrance. Designer Ken Rolston of Elder Scrolls and Kingdoms of Amalur fame is the "designer-in-residence".