“Many survival experts will tell you that survival is more about your mental and emotional state than it is about your specific survival skills, knowledge, or whatever equipment you may have with you,” write Hinterland.
“We’ve all read stories about people surviving against impossible odds — exposed in the wilderness without food and water, appropriate gear or clothing, and in many cases no idea of where they are! Afterwards, when asked how they were able to survive, we often hear the response: “I focused on getting home to my family and loved ones. I focused on the things I had to live for. That’s how I survived.””
Hinterland want to convey that same experience with their survival game The Long Dark.
The mechanic designed to imitate mental fortitude sounds a little twee, you look at polaroids of your family to remind yourself what you’re fighting for, a glance at the photo will buff your stats briefly. “With each use, the photograph fades a bit more, as though the memories that fuel it become less specific, less real.”
“The Willpower photo can be “recharged” in the game, by accomplishing certain goals, navigating certain choices, progressing through the story, etc. But always, you will have to use the Willpower photo very sparingly, because you never know what dangerous survival situation might be just over the next hill.”
If you look past the action’s sentimentality (and there’s nothing wrong with being sentimental but attaching tangible game advantages to an action like looking at a family photo is always going to seem a little ham-handed) the extremely limited resource of hope could deeply affect the way you play the game. WIll you hold the photos in reserve or use them as frequently as you can?
There’s also a danger that players won’t use the photo always thinking there may be a more dangerous situation down the road that they want to save the photo for.
The Long Dark’s a fascinating project but we still know too little about it for me to know quite what to expect of the game.
You can read more about the project on the team’s Kickstarter page.