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The Long Dark from indie developer Hinterland Studio is a title that’s been on my radar for some time. Somewhere around the launch of the Nintendo Switch and sinking 100s of hours into Breath of the Wild, I had forgotten about the release of this wonderful tale of surviving the cold backwoods of the Great White North. Three years later, Nintendo reinvigorated my interest with its inclusion in the Mini-Direct followed with a shadow-drop of the Nintendo Switch version.

Early impressions of The Long Dark are very positive. Playing through the main story on the standard difficulty has been a balanced joy of struggling to keep my character alive, finding clues and pieces to the ongoing story, and exploring a forgotten town and learning its history. An early tutorial section provides a little bit knowledge of the systems but the majority of the complexity is developed through the experience. The sheer amount of systems can feel overwhelming early on, but as an inventory is built up and more challenges are overcome, it doesn’t take long to get into a groove and feel in control.

The voicing acting duo of Mark Meer and Jennifer Hale bring life to a wonderful story full of harrowing moments and intriguing mystery. The visual style looks terrific and the music and sound design provide an engaging atmosphere at times of suspense and character interaction.

Going into act 4, I haven’t experienced any performance issues that negatively affect the experience. A loading screen is required whenever entering or exiting a building, and the game will pause for a brief moment when the auto-safe kicks in, but these delays in the action never amount to more than a minor annoyance.

A full review of The Long Dark is currently is the works. Having completed 80% of the story and learned most of the mechanics, I feel confident in confirming that this will be a recommended title. Until then, please enjoy the first 15 minutes in which the story is setup and a few of the mechanics are presented.

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