To Watch – The Long Dark. To Play – Dragon’s Dogma

Steam often had recommendations for things I should buy. Sometimes I suspect that the algorithm is pretty simple – Valve knows I played DayZ with friends, so it assumes I’m a fan of survival games, which, generally speaking, I’m not. But today, when it recommended “The Long Dark”, the algorithm struck something that is genuinely interesting to me, if not something that I’ll definitely purchase. 

I love atomosphere in games, and in even in Open Access the Long Dark has it in spades. There are no zombies – no enemies at all, as far as I can tell, save for wolves and a blistering, piercing cold. There IS, on the other hand, something that is fairly rare for a survival game, which is a story. The Steam trailer establishes The Long Dark as a story game sort of reminiscent of The Road, with people struggling to survive an apocalypse and retain their humanity. The player character is voiced, a trend that I love to see in games since it gives so much opportunity for richer story telling. 

I was on the verge of purchasing the game when I watched more of the gameplay footage and found the more heavy survival elements. The Long Dark is apparently brutal, forcing the player to count calories and gather enough firewood to last a night of sleep. While I appreciate that there are some people for whom that particular challenge is fun, I’m a bit hesitant to commit myself to that grueling type of play, especially in an Early Access title for which the mechanics haven’t been totally polished. 

Also, I’ve been convinced. My friend has been telling me that Dragon’s Dogma is a game to play for years. Both he and James Portnow from Extra Credits have defined the game as “Dark Souls meets Skyrim meets Shadow of the Colossus”. That’s enough for me to give it a whirl. 

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