Jesus it was cold. Like -30 degrees Fahrenheit windchill while wandering through snow as the sun sets cold.

I couldn’t just stay here, I had to move. A storm was blowing in just as the sun plummeted behind a mountain in the distance.

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My heart started to race. I had no food, no way to make fire, and no water. I picked a direction, and ran, pushed on by rapidly encroaching howls in the distance

I came to a clearing of cut down trees, with a winding road in the middle that was sunken beneath the snow. I approached the road, turned left and right, investigating my options. My decision had to be quick.

I followed the road to the right, up a steep incline. There was a sign that led me to believe a building was just within reach at the top.

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God it’s freezing,” my character shakily muttered under his breath, as the howls grew ever closer.

I spoke to my monitor, egging my character on “keep going, keep going, there’s got to be something up there.”

Then it appeared. A bright red wooden frame practically burned my retinas with its beauty. Atop that frame was my salvation. A lookout tower.

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The door flung open, satisfying my desperate curiosity at its contents. A bunk-bed was in the middle, flanked by a workbench littered with supplies. Then I saw it. A stove. I was warmed just from the potential heat it would soon create.

My shoulders lightened as I exhaled. I had found safety, temporary at best, but safety nonetheless.

The world Hinterland Studios created in The Long Dark is one that has been ripped from the safety of man-made conditions, and forces humanity to fight in order to keep its head above water.

A game funded by Kickstarter, The Long Dark is a first person survival simulation, but one without zombies, monsters or apparitions. It leaves players completely alone in the cold northern wilderness to fend off realistic challenges, or die.

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The early access version I had the pleasure of playing contained one map in sandbox mode, where you try to survive as long as possible, although the full version will have many different maps, and what seems to be a fairly involved story mode.

With visuals reminiscent of watercolor paintings and beautifully textured sculptures, the environment that surrounds you doesn’t seem nearly as dangerous as it actually is. It’s easy to get taken in by its beauty, only to find yourself then deep within its deadly bowels.

A solid and intuitive inventory system allows for almost limitless options, the details of which are paramount to survival. The ability to put together various items – or probably more importantly – tear apart worn out items for other supplies you may need, will have you considering everything you need to live, even down to the condition of your skivvies.

Normally, horror games contain some of the most concentrated and purposeful sound effects to enhance player mood and experience, but The Long Dark puts those to shame. Never before have I felt more extraordinarily alone and afraid than when I was wandering through the wilderness Hinterland has so methodically created.

Although it was just an early access version, the game felt polished and complete in its own right. I’m excited to see more when the game comes out later this year.

Head to our YouTube page soon for game play videos!

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