Posted on Monday, July 23rd, 2012 at 9:30 AM by Guest
Impulse buys. We’ve all experienced them. You picked up a game and after looking at the cover you’re instantly drawn into the game and throwing your money at the seller. Those pesky people at Steam had advertised Lone Survivor as I was aimlessly searching through for some cheap games. I had heard nothing about it, seen nothing of it apart from the image that was on the page above the ‘Purchase’ button.
Lone Survivor is a survival horror game by Jasper Bryne. A comic book/pixelated game, graphically; it reminded me something that could perhaps be a contender against the Scott Pilgrim comics. The character you play as, referred to as ‘You’ but who I swiftly named Steve, has been trapped within the city as an outbreak of monsters has happened. The basic core of a story involving a character being trapped within their city during an outbreak or some form of disease is not exactly a new one to the gaming world and one that’s been told more times than Cinderella losing her shoe. Still, I started the game with a neutral opinion on it and jumped into the horror that it was no doubt about to deliver.
I really liked the character ‘You’ (aka Steve) – the comments on things as they explored the city were amusing and I slowly got more interested into their mental state. There are several times throughout the game where Steve has a blackout and enters a dream where you can encounter other people who will play tricks on what you (the player) believes is true. It’s a thin twisting layer that sits nicely on top of the basic story that I was previously talking about but it wasn’t something that pulled me right into the game and kept me hooked. I constantly found myself getting distracted and/or fed up with playing Lone Survivor after a few hours but yet I found myself returning to it later on in the day to play some more, but what had a hold of my mind that I had to carry on playing it?
Two things struck out to me as being executed and put together really well for the game, much like Irn Bru and a Scottish person, was the sound and visuals. I enjoyed playing on the pixelated graphics of the game and I was surprised that even with the constraint of chance for cinematic cut scenes, the hallucinations and the blackouts were done really well. With a black screen, I was instantly unsettled and wondered what monsters was going to pop up in front of me or where I would be. With eerie music being played while you were walking coming to a sudden halt to have vicious outbreaks of sound as your character blackouts – you can’t put in a bad word on how well they’ve brought these two elements together to provide a starting point to a decent horror experience to the player. Unfortunately, I felt the monsters let the game down due to them not exactly adding to the suspense that was starting to be set up with the visuals and sound of the game. The monsters didn’t pose much of a threat to me as I could easily sneak past them or kill them with a few bullets and nor did they jump out at you like any other horror game would have thought to have been second nature. There was a lack of diversity with the monsters as well. With all due respect, each respective type of monsters got progressively harder to kill off but with only two main types of monsters and the same number of bosses – the challenge of this game didn’t really lie with the monsters coming to attack you in the middle of the night but relied more on your survival.
With limited supplies on food and ammo at hand, it’s a difficult time to try and get going with your weekly shopping when you have to remember about the monsters patrolling the hallways and streets. As with any post-apocalyptic game, the supplies are scarce. Surviving on cheese and crackers isn’t exactly agreeing with your stomach, batteries are running low on your flashlight, ammo is almost gone – where do you go?! Lone Survivor has the answer that perhaps isn’t something that you should rely on whenever this does inevitably happen in real life – popping pills. Three types pills are at your disposal in Lone Survivor – red, green and blue – each with their own perks, so to speak. One will provide you with an instant lift and keep you on your feet and no side effects from it. The other two could potentially land Steve with some extra ammo or batteries being delivered out of thing air but they cause drowsiness and give Steve some really messed up nightmares. This is where Lone Survivor starts to play tricks and gets your mind working overdrive. What is real? Is this person really there and if so, am I actually speaking to them. What is that person trying to tell me?! Progressing through the story some more, when you do cross someone that becomes your friend, I was sitting there asking myself “are they real, is this happening?” for a good while. Known as The Director, you can go to his apartment and visit him to get those precious supplies, sometimes free although he does like to trade for those Sleepy Cat comics he so desires.
Although you have a person helping you on the supply side of things, Lone Survivor doesn’t directly hold your hand through the game. Without checking the radio and diary situated in your room on a regular basis, it’s easy to become lost and confused on where you’re meant to go. Thankfully, with a bit of an annoying save system, you will be visiting your room often enough to be kept in the know. I saw the small matter of saving my game a bit of an arduous task. Having to sleep in your own bed to save your progess, I often found myself making minimal progress with the game in between saves. It felt like I was taking a few baby steps before taking a bit of a leap back when I thought I best go save the game. Whenever I tried to go that little bit extra before returning to the apartment, I would be killed off and have to start from my previous save – somewhat of a pain in my butt when I had just found the place I needed to go. With Lone Survivor being a 2D side scrolling game, it can be a bit of a difficult task to try and navigate your way through the environment. Thankfully, they’ve met you halfway and provided you with a map but, the constant checking of the map to ensure you’re on the right path or in the right room is a hassle in itself. As I have already touched upon, I was often finding myself wanting to turn off the game and do something else and I reckon these played a factor towards that.
In saying that, even though I have identified some negatives about the game, Lone Survivor is an enjoyable game to complete over the course of a weekend, especially if you’ve picked it up cheap in the Steam Summer Sale. With various endings to the game depending on what pills you’ve been taking more of (yes you will become a drug user throughout this game just don’t do it in real life kids!), it has the potential sitting there for some replay value for those who wish to go back through it again but after my first play through, I didn’t feel like the game had left any impact on me to make me want to back through it again. Perhaps this could be a different story in a couple of months but we shall see.
Lone Survivor stands well as a survival game however it does lack some of the horror aspects that I was hoping to get from playing it. Where the visuals and sounds do the game justice, the elements of enemies and a bland and predictable story didn’t deliver for me and accumulate to what could have been a real gem of a game. Because of that, I give Lone Survivor a 6.5 out of 10 – definitely a buy at a cheap price for an fun game but not one that I would be pouring my money at.
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