I’m more silent about inspiration I draw from video games but lately my wife and I have been so enveloped in a game I knew I had to mention it. It’s called The Long Dark by Hinterland Studio. The game takes place after some sort of “geomagnetic disaster”; the character crash lands in part of Canada and is forced to survive by him/herself.
There isn’t a real story element here yet, but I hear it’s on the way. I would have loved to be on the creative team writing the story with them. Since there is a lack of story elements here I’ll be showing you both through pictures and game philosophy why I’m completely preoccupied by this game.
Sure, the art style is atypical. A bit blocky and not like high end, mega-graphics games. Still the game is beautiful. I know all it’s faults and I’m still startled by the beauty. The color scheme is simple but within that finite color scheme they pull off miraculous submersion into the game. Excluding buildings there are swatches of white, grey, black, blue, green, and yellow. Now that I’m thinking about it it sounds like a bit. Yet it’s subdued here. The white is vibrant, almost violently so, the other colors near-fade out of existence. It’s marvelous.
The long dark has also done something in the mechanics of a survival game that I enjoy. It’s you vs the environment (and the occasional wolf). For the most part, however, you are alone battling the harshness the world has to offer trying not to die. The world isn’t going to let up and give you a break. It won’t run away from you either. This world Hinterland’s created embodies the philosophy of absurdism. The world doesn’t give a damn whether you want to survive. It’s going to change wildly despite you. You could be running low on food and exhausted, you try to sleep to gain some energy but now there’s a massive snowstorm. Your hopes for finding food are dashed, your game, possibly over.
The big grab from this game so far is how beautiful things can be violent, or at least non-caring. Things we want, wish even, to care about our existence because we are constantly in awe of it, are apathetic to mankind. This theme encompasses my work but I feel I’ve been exceedingly heavy-handed with it. Hinterland’s The Long Dark gives me hope yet that I can learn the way.