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Trapped in his apartment building while the rest of the world descends into hellish apocalypse, the masked protagonist of Lone Survivor must scavenge for food and supplies in the apartments of the dead or the not so dead. Mutants are everywhere in this game, and while you can dispatch them with the pistol you eventually find, it’s not particularly easy or smart, as they have to get very close for the gun to be effective. Stealth is much safer and usually the better option. While I like blasting mutants as much as anyone else, the game would be less effective if the gun worked better. Violence can’t always be the answer, which is refreshing and irritating at the same time, because it reminds you of how vulnerable the character is in this situation, and that’s not something that’s comforting to be reminded of.
Rotting meat helps you distract the hungry damned so you can sneak by and get to portions of the map that they usually block. It’s not a perfect system, and much is learned by trial and error along the way. Rotting meat doesn’t much to distract the mutants if you’re just standing there like a big bag of fresh meat, you need to be able to hide and sneak past while they’re eating.
The need for food and sleep also keep reminding you that you’re more vulnerable than the usual videogame character. You can get around both with pills, but that can lead to insanity, and really, you’ll get enough of that without any help. It also serves to keep the game’s old school feel. Many games required a steady stream of food to keep the characters alive and healthy. Who can forget Gauntlet: “Wizard needs food badly!” It’s also a bit of a chore, because really, food is scarce and using up the resource may lead to a shortage when needed later. And I really got tired of hearing the main character complain about being hungry or tired when I was trying to finish something. A longer time between feedings would’ve been a nice inclusion. As it is now, sometimes I feel like the Lone Survivor is related to Hobbits, no sooner has he eaten than he’s again asking for more.
There’s a large psychological aspect to Lone Survivor. The line between what’s real and unreal is blurred a lot, and there were times where I questioned if I was imagining something or it was really happening the way it was playing out on the screen. Getting the gun is a good example of this, but I won’t spoil the trip for those who want to play the game.
The map system was more confusing than helpful, it takes a bit of imagination to figure out where things are in relation to your position.
There are plenty of scary and weird bits to this game, but it’s hard to talk about them without spoiling. If you’re interested in a Survival Horror game that takes the “survival” part seriously, then Lone Survivor is for you.
Lone Survivor is available through http://www.lonesurvivor.co.uk/ for PC, Mac or Linux, and is DRM free and also redeemable on Steam.