Lone Survivor

Normally, I stay as far away from horror games as possible. I’m not really a fan of being scared, I’m much more at home in a game where I’m not going to have a monstrosity jump out of the walls and make me run out of the room screaming. With Lone Survivor though, Jasper Byrne has created a game that will suck you in, scare you silly, and still leave you wanting more.

It’s a game that, at first, can be a little tricky to get your head around. You’re thrown into a nightmarish apartment complex, playing as a plucky and cautious man known only as “You”. Initially, the game isn’t too terrifying as you navigate the apartment. It may be a little dingy, but it’s nothing too scary. As soon as you venture outside, however, you come across the horrors – albeit in a minor form – this game has to offer. The hallways and apartments are littered with things that are designed to make you uneasy. Whether it’s the faceless humanoids lurching around the map or the pulsating walls of flesh, you can really appreciate the effort that was put into making you scared. It isn’t just the graphics that will unsettle you though. The developer put a great deal of effort into creating a soundtrack that will shred your last nerve. Even the ambient music which you associate with your apartment is tainted by the evil that lurks around the next corner.

Hiding in the shadows from the beasts that lurk nearby

Stealth mode, activate!

There are some interesting design decisions made for the gameplay as well. Within the game, though you may not notice or appreciate it in your first play through, is a sanity meter. There are a large number of contributory factors to keep you from insanity, such as adopting and looking after a cat or taking care of a plant. On the other hand, killing enemies or eating more questionable food, like a fried rat or rotting meat, will take you down a bad path. It’s a mechanic that gives the game a great deal of replayability, in order to get that perfect play through, and of course see all the endings the game has to offer.

The variety of villains will also offer some interesting gameplay. There are five in total which roam the world in various forms, as well as a special sixth if you can complete the game with high enough mental health. Every single one require different tactics and a different way of thinking. You’ll be able to make it through the game without killing a single enemy if you have the right tools and are happy to stealth your way through the game. Or, you could go on a murderous rampage and slaughter everything in sight. Enemies tend to not react too well to this, in fact, only two of them will actually die if you put enough lead in them.

One massive zombie.

He’s a bit big…

Throughout the game, you’ll declare yourself hungry or tired. Obviously, the ways around this are to cook and eat things and to sleep. However, you don’t have a constant supply of food – this is a survival game after all! You do have access to pills though: greens, reds and blues. All of these you have an unending supply of in your bathroom. The green pills are the most useful – they make you drowsy, but give you a dream where you meet a man who produces food for you. The red pills are useful but essentially they are just caffeine pills and help you stave off your tiredness. The blue pills are the ones to miss if you want to have a good mental health rating, but if you’re happy to become a murderous psycho, then these will be your best friend. If you take one and sleep, you’ll dream that you’re in front of a man who pushes some ammunition onto you. All of these can be useful depending on how you play the game, but it makes it significantly less difficult if all you need is to pop a pill just to get something that you need.

One of the other negatives I had with this game, was probably intentional and there in order to prevent you from gaining any real foothold into the world. There is very little you can learn about your character, or the situation you find yourself in. It does add to the game in that you’re so clueless about the events that you’re never sure about what will happen next, but I’d like to know a lot more about the main character than is present in the game.

The way this game takes you from not knowing what’s going on, to still having no clue, but loving every minute of it, is the reason you should give this game a try. There aren’t many negatives to it, and coupled with its incredible soundtrack, Jasper Byrne has created a real masterpiece with this game. If a game can make me enjoy the horror genre, then it’s definitely done something special.

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