Lone Survivor: Directors Cut (Review)
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Game designer Jasper Byrne had a really grotesque, confusing, and slightly terrifying idea for a game, so he teamed up with Superflat Games and Curve Studios to bring us Lone Survivor: Director’s Cut. You play as an unnamed character in a pixelated, 2D horror adventure, trying to uncover just what the heck is going on and why everyone is dead. Let’s take a peek down the deep dark hole of this indie gem, and try not to scare the pants off ourselves while we do it.
You wake up in an apartment that’s clearly not yours (based on the fact that you remark that the clothes hanging up and closet items don’t belong to you), with no recollection of how you got there. Without any better options, you call it home for now and make your way around the building, running into disgusting creatures that look like skeletons with nothing but a thin layer of slimy brown skin covering their frames. While you don’t have any memories or even know your own name, you’ll find random diary entries and notes lying about that will give you an indication about your life (or someone else’s – it’s really not clear). Due to the distinct lack of information, players may find this confusing and unexplained storyline to be frustrating, and may even become disinterested as you will only ever see parts of what may be a story about perhaps someone that may be you. Or not. You’ll pick up notes that talk about having to kill everybody, or that someone thinks someone else is losing it and is crazy, but it never points to whether this has anything to do with you or not. Some of the notes will give you tidbits of what’s going on around you as well, however, and even give you an indication of where to go next (such as going to the basement to fix the generator and get power).
In between the excursions from your bedroom, you’ll also have a hard time distinguishing between reality and fantasy, as you’ll be thrown into frequent hallucinations without warning (and without an explanation as to why this is occurring). People who you run into will suddenly turn into grotesque creatures, or disappear into thin air. It doesn’t help that everything around you is dark, and your flashlight always runs out of batteries. You’ll be scavenging for food, batteries, weapons and other supplies in an attempt to survive. Each day will bring new challenges, but your character will get tired, hungry, or injured by the monsters in the building, so make sure you’re using mirrors you come across to warp back to your home if your character starts complaining. While you can’t jump in the game, you’ll be able to use different tactics to get away from the monsters aside from shooting them, such as dropping hunks of rotten meat about and hiding in crevices until your enemies pass by to go after their stinky prize. The entire game is based around survival and horror, so make sure you follow the game’s instructions and turn off all of the lights for better immersion.
While the entire game is very fuzzy, with big 8bit blocks of colour jumbled together to create everything you see, you’ll also see scratches and dots in the darkness as you move along – almost as if you were watching an old movie reel that had been damaged over time. The music that accompanies this is also full of squeals and scratches, making everything feel more bizarre. The sounds that the monsters make are reminiscent of zombies, though it’s clear by the blood and veins on the walls that there is a lot more going on than just a zombie apocalypse. The use of darkness in long and short patches as you move along also adds to the heart-pounding feeling you’ll get when you turn on your flashlight and—surprise!—you see a horde of enemies creepily climbing on the ceiling towards you. While some of the text is so fuzzy it’s almost too hard to read, most of the game blends in perfectly together to push players outside of their element and lead the way to a hair-raising experience.
Lone Survivor: Director’s Cut isn’t the type of game that players will be into if they don’t like to be creeped out, scared, or confused. Top that with the artistic take on low resolution graphics and the bizarre nature of the music, this indie title will really be a niche game for people who love older or ‘out of the box’ type games. For those of us who enjoyed games like the Silent Hill series, or Doom, and like the idea of a 2D, pixelated environment, this is the perfect pickup on either the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, or the PC.
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