Review: Lone Survivor

Game: Lone Survivor Developer: Curve Studios  Publisher: Superflat Games
Release Date: Out Now  Available On: PS3/Vita/Mac/PC  Version Played: PS3/Vita

Designer Jasper Byrne brings the world this intensely suspenseful 8-bit 2D survival horror hit that is sure to leave the player pondering well after the credits roll.

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Taking control of a nameless character only referred to as “You” the player awakens in what appears to be a post pandemic world. Ravaged and plagued by destruction and infection. Waking from a dream the player finally finds the courage to venture outside the security of his adopted apartment and find out if he really is a lone survivor. You must successfully survive and navigate a small section of a city to make your escape and fully comprehend the disastrous severity of this world. It all sounds pretty straight forward, until the players sanity is thrown into the equation, unsure if this is real or just a projection of the players’ increasingly fragile state of mind.

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8-bit graphic design probably won’t inspire a lot of fear from just pure visual exposure. The fear inspired from this game comes from what the graphics don’t show you, your imagination plays an extremely daunting part of this game and affects your confidence in your ability to progress but also in what is real in this disturbing world.

Upon boot up, you are guided through a basic introduction which outlines the ins and outs of how to get the most of this game. Take particular note of the audio and gamma settings. Music plays a fabulous part of this game, tugging at your fears and amplifying them when it seems trouble is lurking near or even when it isn’t. There are a few magical moments involved in this game where the music really connects you with the player and creates a sort of empathy for his precarious predicament.

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Visually presented in 8-bit form Lone Survivor really does a fantastic job of highlighting the mass destruction and degrading gore splattered environments surrounding you. I’m talking beating hearts and fleshy holes in the wall that at one point is a thoroughfare, but where the 8-bit really shines is the fading static moments where your mind can’t help but to wonder what horrific encounter is just around the corner. Monsters come in a few various shapes and sizes but all represent a pale figure of their former human self, almost appearing to be turned inside out.

Moving away from the infected setting, there are brief glimpses of a brighter world and it is showcased enchantingly, but what really stands out for this game are the sections of the players fragile mental state of mind where lines of reality are blurred and brought into serious question, visual and audio cues throughout these small but intense segments are unique and do a sensational job of really drawing the player into the instability of the character’s mentality.

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The 2D template makes exploration quite confusing, but luckily there is a handy map to be referred to if need be. When viewing the map or even inspecting your inventory the game doesn’t pause and leaves you open to the dangers of the world. Expect to be doing a lot of map referencing and backtracking as you discover paths that are blocked and rooms to be explored.

There is an abundance of side quests to accomplish throughout this game which will ultimately affect your end result. The final outcome of this game is influenced by a number of factors throughout your game play which will be revealed to you at the end of your game.

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Navigating this dark, danger infested world can be difficult which is lucky that you have a flash light. Given the horror setting and post pandemic word, supplies are scarce and must be scavenged. You can scavenge food to satisfy your hunger, batteries to recharge your flashlight, bullets for your trusty handgun, rotting meat and flares to distract the mindless zombies and finally pills which affect your mental health.

Surviving in this world is extremely tricky. There are the monsters which you can outwit by luring them in to feast on some rotting meat as you stealth past safely in the shadows, you could try disorientating them with flares or simply shoot them. Shooting them includes three aiming methods; high, medium and low, but unfortunately ammunition is scarce and the gun shots attract other enemies. Apart from surviving these undead horrors the player also needs to manage his human needs, hunger levels play crucial as you must find the right balance of a healthy diet to maintain energy and to heal the player. Sleep is just as important, adequate rest is required not only to save your game progress but to maintain a stable mental state. Whilst these factors are vital for survival there are also the various coloured pill, which result in various effects on your game, your inventory, your state of mind and ultimately your survival.

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I reviewed this game primarily on the Vita and I couldn’t have selected a better console to fully immerse myself into this game with the lights off and headphones on. I found that each time things got a little bit creepy I would push the console away as a feeble means of protection or closer to become a part of some of the games much more magical moments. This game being a cross buy opportunity on the PlayStation store I could not recommend it more. For those people who originally experienced this game on PC you may not feel like a repurchase but for those who haven’t I highly recommend it.

Lone Survivor does an amazing job of making you feel alone. The horror elements are not insanely brutal during game play it is the imagination and mentality of the player where the real horror lies which is very smart development. The controls are basic and easily accessible. Music is creepy when it needs to be and enchanting when called upon. Lone Survivor is a game I had trouble putting down, a few playthroughs are time well invested and with its gripping story and multiple endings I couldn’t recommend it more strongly.

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