September 30, 2013

Lone Survivor: Director's Cut Review

Curve Studio's 2D survival horror game is out for the PS3 and Vita. Read the review inside

On September 24th Curve Studios released a remake of a PC game from 2012. Some new tweaks were added to the PS version, like touch support on Vita and improved lighting system. New items, new endings, and new game locations. All of them have been designed by Jasper, the original creator, and all of them are made to expand on the original game seamlessly.
Fog and lighting set up an eerie mood
But what it is? The game is described as a psychological survival adventure in a 2D retro style. Many claim that it can be likened to Silent Hill in its themes and adventure style. I see what they're saying, but it is a stretch with the graphics style. Players control a man in a surgical mask. This character is an isolated survivor of an infection which has turned the world's population into aggressive, shambling mutants. With limited food and an increasingly fragile mental state, the player character must be guided outside his apartment to scavenge and explore. There are no indications that any other survivors exist except for a note which states that there are other survivors on the opposite side of the apartment building.
Mirrors are used to "Warp" back to your base/bed
You travel around, kind of confusingly at first, through an apartment building with only a map to help guide you. This map is only helpful if you keep checking in on it as you move from one room to another. The perspective changes from map to side scrolling floors and it is hard to keep track of where you're going. 
You will be opening this often
Casual players who don't immerse themselves in the world will get lost easily and frustration falls in. The plot slips away from you as the man character, "You," goes back and forth between hallucination and "reality." It makes you question what is really going on. 
Guy with a box on his head? Probably a hallucination. 
The inventory system works very simply. You have rotten meat to bait out the creatures, you get food that you need on a regular basis to avoid the crazies, you get other key items to help you through story sections... it felt like a throwback to Maniac Mansion or Monkey Island in its approach. 

Some key points of frustration include: 
  • having to backtrack constantly to your bed
  • getting lost on what to do next
  • resource management
Bait the bad guys with some rotting meat. But why can't they smell it in your pocket?

Make sure you know what you're getting into with the graphics. It is about as 2D as you can get, and pixel-ed to death. Not sure why the approach was to go this way. Something smoother would feel a bit more modern and also worth the $13 you have to drop for the game on the PS Store. The game is honored for its ability to scare you, but the same type of simple creatures without much variation didn't do too much with blocky characters.  
Slice open that wall with a large pair of scissors. Check. 
Music/Sound Effects:
Some of the first things the game tells you to do is to make sure notifications are off, and that you play in a dark room by yourself. I guess to set the mood, but if a game relies heavily on immersing yourself in a mood already before you play the game, that makes me wonder if it can stand alone. Much less be a casual pick up game to play on a train to work. 

That being said, the sounds do make the environment and really add to the scare when the lights go down and batteries run out in your flashlight. 


You will like this game if: 
  • you enjoy old-school point and click adventures
  • you like to immerse yourself in a psychological adventure
  • you have time to follow a confusing plotline to the end... there are multiple endings based on decisions you make in game
You might not like: 
  • the simple, simple graphics
  • the constant backtracking and confusing map system
  • the $13 price tag
Closing remarks: 
Lone Survivor: Director's Cut is not for everyone. If you're up for a psychological adventure and can forgive the game for some mistakes, you might enjoy this. The casual gamer, or someone looking for some flash in the Vita or PS3 may want to shy away and look for something else. 

Thanks to Curve Studios for the review code. Images taken off my Vita screenshots. 

Comment below, let us know if you've played it or are looking forward to: 

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