Lone Survivor Review
A gripping narrative and an irresistible atmosphere of spine-tingling dread make Lone Survivor a compelling horror experience.
- Pervasively creepy tone
- Fantastic sound design and music
- Multiple endings and branching pathways
- Oppressive 2D visuals draw you in
- Involving storyline and deep characterization.
- Confusing mapping system
- Terrible chase sequences.
When you think of "intense" games, you might recall some shooter's bullet-laden climactic scene, or a particularly impressive combo in a fighting game. But intensity doesn't just exist in moments of over-the-top violence or during awe-inspiring displays of skill. It can come from the way a game affects your mood and your mind as you play it. In that sense, Lone Survivor is one of the most truly intense games in recent memory: it's a game that, from the opening menu, grabs a hold of your senses and keeps them locked onto your monitor until the adventure is over.
You play as the nameless title character, seemingly the only human left after a plague has turned most of the population into faceless, shambling zombies. Despite this devastating catastrophe, you encounter other "people" with whom you can interact: a white-faced man, a man with a cardboard box on his head, and a few others, but how real these people are (and whether or not they're outright malevolent) is a matter of perspective. See, the main character is in a constant struggle against not only the mutants outside his apartment, not only his own hunger and fatigue, but sanity itself. Choices you make in the game--whether or not to carry on a conversation with a stuffed animal, for example--have real effects on how the main character keeps his marbles together; although to the game's great credit, it's not always clear what will be beneficial and what will be detrimental when you choose.
However you treat your character's mind, though, you face a series of challenges once he inevitably decides to sally forth from his lonely apartment into the world beyond. The halls of his apartment building are home to some of the aggressive mutants, but you are presented early on with a radio broadcast urging survivors to head to an apartment on the other side of the building. To be sure, you have to come back to your apartment over and over to sleep (which is also the only way to save your game) and because it serves as a base of operations for everything you do. Apart from trying to sort out the aftermath of the zombie plague, your character can focus on smaller, side-quest-type goals, like repairing a stove to cook more-palatable food (good for your sanity) or taking care of a houseplant--and all of these are centered on your apartment.
Fortunately, a series of mirrors placed throughout the gameworld let you teleport to and from your home base instantaneously (and also serve to give you a sense of your overall health and sanity). Unfortunately, the game's mapping system leaves a great deal to be desired. For one thing, the maps are rendered in an overhead, bird's-eye-view format, while the game itself is entirely side-scrolling. This leads to a lot of going the wrong way as you try to spatially reorient yourself. Merely annoying most of the time, this disorienting discrepancy between map layout and gameplay perspective is absolutely hair-tearing during a couple of chase sequences in which you have to figure out where you're going, orient yourself properly, and avoid being killed, all in real time. Opening the map does not pause the game, and you can easily become zombie food while you're trying to remember whether it's a right or a left you need to take.
@uncfan21 More people like it than dislike it. I was in the same boat, finally played through it in one sitting last night and oh my god. If you like other horror titles like Silent Hill and story lines that don't hold your hand or explain themselves than get this game.
The amazing thing about Lone Survivor is that I somehow cannot imagine it being as scary in full 3D graphics. Those 2D retro-visuals really contribute to the Post-Apocalyptic horror feel. While I think a 9/10 is more in order, this is still a good review by Eric!
some massive companies that shall go unnamed *cough* EA, Bioware, Blizzard..etc*cough* <yes i have really complex coughs...should take a look at this game (and others like amnesia and grimrock) and then really REALLY take a good look at them selves....
if one man can do this, why the hell are some big massive budget games sucking ??!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yesterday have started playing. This game has nice sick atmosphere and great music! =) Very impressed so far.
I will have to get this game for sure. There aren't any real big budget survival horror games anymore.
I think that the name "Lone Survivor" indicates the game maker himself here. He is the one alone survived among those huge giant gaming companies. That's just my opinion! :D
This game is AMAZING, you guys have to give it a try! The feeling of claustrophobia and panic is something I haven't felt since the original SH / RE games from the 90s / early 2000s.
I love it when games made by one person are better than the efforts of multi-million dollar corporations!
It's so refreshing to see a Survival Horror game again, and it's funny how this game is so much more of a Silent Hill game than the new ones will ever be.
Take note capcom, this is how a survival horror game should be made!!!And this game is made by 1 guy, yes only 1!!
A must buy :)
does have a silent hill feel to it, the atmosphere of the game and the reply value makes this a great game
EH? I think I'll buy back my old VIC 20. No point in asking this lot to invent the holodeck or the matrix then.
( sorry I'm over 40)
@joeyrepro It's funny, isn't it? We "old farts" dreamt of those things happening in the future - which is NOW - while those 20-somethings try so hard to be hipsters by recreating and drooling over the graphics and gameplay we expected so much to be surpassed ASAP.
The game is great, but not really due to its retro feel. Retro is for people who didn't live the thing and need desperately to feel part of an established clique.
@RealFabioSooner Oreally? I'm 27 and grew up with an NES, then a Genny, my brother had an SNES. Us "20-something hipsters" are the ones who grew up in the time you speak of...so what exactly is your point?
Unrelated but relevant, its funny when people speak of the "golden age of gaming", and say there are too many bad games released these days...crappy games are not a 21st century phenomenon. For every good NES game that is still fun to play in 2012, there are at least 20 that were crap in the 80s are still crap today.
@RealFabioSooner Hey, thanks for assuming that everyone who likes to get a little nostalgia going with some old school graphics, gameplay and style are really shooting for something as shallow as being in a clique. I was around in the atari and nes days, and love old schooling it every now and then. Hey, all I need is the bumper sticker and I'll be set, right? Then they'll accept me in the retro clique? Alright!!
@RealFabioSooner Oh, and by the way, how does playing a single player game, in the privacy of your home, have anything to do with wanting to be in a clique anyway? What kind of video game connoisseur bragging rights could that really give you? It's cool if you don't like the whole retro thing, but don't presume to think you know the reason everyone else does.
Great Game... Spooky sometimes..... It's a 8-Bit Gem.... Finished it with a smile on my face... Sadly I still cannot figure out who that "Man in the box" was. A classic on the lines of "To The Moon".