Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut (PS3)
Developed by Superflat Games
Published by Curve Studios
Released September 24, 2013
Review Written March 22, 2014
Another game from my Christmas sale binge, Lone Survivor is another recent title that I pursued without knowing any prior information about the game. Created by Jasper Byrne of Superflat Games, Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut is an atmospheric survival horror game reminiscent of the Silent Hill Series. Taking a different route visually, Lone Survivor is a 16-bit side-scroller that still manages to bring the fear. Though it may look like an odd SNES released twenty years too late, this indie title has much to offer once you leap into the rabbit hole.
Throughout the six hour campaign, this indie title has little nuances that just grow on you the more you play it. Even though it doesn’t redefine the survival horror genre, Lone Survivor captures certain elements of popular survival horror games to lend an enjoyable experience. The first hour of the game is possibly the most intense as you don’t have any equipment except for a flashlight and a few pills. Adding that to roaming around a mysterious apartment complex without a sense of direction built my expectations as well as the foundation of how I would play the entire game; slowly walking and stealthing around to avoid all enemies. Although I say the first hour of the game felt the most intense, there is a level entirely within a basement that almost required me to bring a spare change of pants.
As mentioned, the game really relies on its eerie ambiance and without it Lone Survivor wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable. Before even starting the game, the introductory screen dictates that a horrifyingly immersive experience is gained through following the game’s “ritual”. The “ritual” is more about the player’s mindset than the game’s adjustments, basically instructing the users to play in the dark with loud volume and away from distractions. I played using their instructed “ritual” and did feel a bit more immersed but this came at the price of feeling very paranoid at times. The sounds from within the game would often be a bit too ominous and any quick movements would instantly set off mental alarms. In a way the game’s “ritual” was very helpful in getting the correct mentality while playing and as the game is called Lone Survivor I’d imagine that mindset would be that of fear and paranoia.
Touching more on the atmosphere of the game, the audio is very impressive. Clear sound effects and music help add to the game whether it being soft melodies while in safe havens, staticky undertones when enemies are near, and any sound effects for surfaces walked on or items used. Visually the game isn’t too bad either. By being 16-bit, Lone Survivor has the ability to play on nostalgia factor from those who love that art style or gaming era. Using mostly a dark selection of colors it really sets the tone that this world you’re playing in is in such a bleak, disturbing state. Yet, even in a gloomy world you have to strive for survival.
With such a bleak situation you come to learn that the character you play as is an unknown man who is just labeled as the Lone Survivor. Being one of the few characters still alive in the apartment complex, this man definitely has his own personal demons, and as you progress in the main story many of them come to light. Interestingly the more you play, the more he begins to delve into the insanity of his own situation and with such he progressively becomes more self-abhorrent as he pursues his goal for escape. In attempts to maintain your characters sanity you have to feed him and let him rest when he requests such or else his sanity fleets even more so. This feature within the game was interesting at first, but over time the main character started sounding more like a broken tamagachi, constantly complaining about needing food or sleep. But following suit with the theme of survivor horror, there’s always never enough food to satiate his ever-growing appetite.
The controls for the game are very simplistic in that you only move left and right and have a scatter of buttons to use specific items. There is also a quick-use wheel you can bring up to avoid diving into your inventory when very dire situations arise against the several enemy types within the game. Sometimes having the extra healing items or weapons still can’t save you from the stronger enemies. Though don’t fret if your character dies a good handful of times as the game can be a bit unforgiving in terms of difficulty the deeper you get into it.
Lone Survivor is an interesting tale of a man’s attempt to escape reality and death. Almost like being lost in a corn maze, the more you attempt to understand what’s going on you become even more disoriented with no ability of reversing. The perplexing story becomes even more fragmented as there are a total of six endings to the game, and only two of them, I believe, reveal the truth about the game’s happenings. Although the game can often be very slow paced, the hunger to find answers really drove me to finish. With this all said, I would definitely recommend purchasing this game on Steam or PSN. It may not be overly scary as a survival horror game, but it does offer an interesting experience worth a playthrough or two.
Review Written by John of The Time Heist