(15 – 25 minutes read)
Hello readers and friends..
Firstly, thank you to those who read through my blog posts so far. To the people from r/blogging and my friends, thank you for giving me much needed feedback.
By the time anyone has read this post, I’ve added some new changes to the blog that I hope would be a couple of steps in the right direction.
As I mentioned prior in “About the Author”.. I like to play video games. A few games have caught my eye and one of them is about the game that I’m about to review.
Although the game is not as popular as other games and it is considered short (one play-through is about less than 4 hours, there is so much more than meets the eye. For one, it’s replay-ability partly due to the story, depth, abstract yet insightful nature on the game’s unnamed protagonist left me in admiration similar to how Silent Hill 2 left me.
In fact, there are many used in-game mechanics and references from Silent Hill, that it is a very familiar game to play. For that, there is much reason why people have played this quiet and unseeming game.
So without further adieu, let’s begin.
The game is called “Lone Survivor – Director’s Cut” by Jasper Byrne. Originally released in 2011, a newer version or the director’s cut with more in-game content was released in 2013. Lone Survivor is a 2D pixelated side-scroller psychological survivor horror game.
Without revealing too much, the story begins with “you” narrating what has happened. He narrates that he has been a lone survivor, even since an unknown biological outbreak spread and has turned the residents of the city into mindless and shambling humanoid creatures hell-bend on killing any survivors. To date, he has found no other survivors. There is no clue how long the outbreak has been around or when it started. Neither is there information on how long the protagonist has been surviving.
So, the begins in a dream (as part of the tutorial) and where he meets three people in it. One is the Man in the Box. Another is the Man in Blue. Lastly, is a mysterious young girl in a blue dress.
Our protagonist then wakes from his dream and begins his journey into the unknown, hoping to find survivors. As he explores the apartment in which he lives, he finds diary pages and old notes. It is never explained who wrote them (although, it is later implied who wrote them).. As he searches around besides his main room, there’s a kitchen, another room and a bathroom. It is a picture of normalcy and sanity in an otherwise insane, lonely and despondent nightmarish world.
As you explore the game, you have to keep track of four things. Health, hunger, sanity and tiredness (or awakefulness, somehow I prefer this term). Some of what you do to help maintain one area helps in others.
For instance, as you encounter the monsters, you may get hit and lose some health. To restore health, drinking water, beverages or eating food will help restore them.To ward the monsters off, you get a handgun or even flares to stunt them for a while. There is also rotten meat which you can use to distract the monsters.
Additionally, the kind and quality of food eaten affects how much you will appease your hunger or even sanity. Meanwhile, awakefulness can be maintained by sleeping when tired. Taking coffee or even certain pills helps to maintain it for short periods, which can prove detrimental if over-abused.
Meanwhile, sanity is affected by not only what you eat, but what you do. It’s interesting to note that sanity is very important to the story and may affect the game’s outcome and ending. For example, a way to have good sanity is by having enough sleep, eating right, not over-using medicine or coffee, adopting a cat, talking to it, helping others and more. Oppositely, doing unwholesome acts can drive your sanity downwards.I’ll let you as the player figure it out. Additionally, your character’s psyche can affect what he sees and reacts in the world around him, due to him being implied to suffer depression from loneliness and more.
The game is linear to simplify things. Along the way, you’ll enter rooms and places that tell parts of the story, and give players a glimpse of what is really going on. When the player reaches the end, the sum of the choices of his or her actions made will then influence the game’s ending. It’s that simple. After the credits, the game gives you a score and shows you what you’ve done right that contributed to your overall sanity score.
b) Review and Thoughts
In my opinion, I would say this is an excellent yet flawed game. It follows the phrase, simplicity is genius, yet it is brilliant in it’s execution. Before I continue, I’m saying it’s flawed nature in a good meaning in that, it deals with the flaws of us being human. Unlike many games, it touches close to reality by making the player take care of the protagonist. It feels very human.
As the game progresses, it teaches on themes such as loneliness, depression, anxiety, sanity, normalcy, guilt, conformity, loss, grief, acceptance and even moving on in life. The fulcrum of the story revolves around the mysterious young girl in blue. Meanwhile, supporting characters such as the Man in the Box, the Man in Blue, the Director, the cat, Hank, the paled man in the suit and other minor characters help explain the world of Lone Survivor.Some of them even have hidden meanings. For instance, a minor character is called “Benzido” which I felt suspicious about. It’s real name is for a type of medicine using for patients suffering from psychological ailments and disorders. An observant player would have realized.. there is so much more than just the surface. Even the enemies in the game have meanings specific to the protagonist.
When you finally get it, the game really can get to you. It blew me away in a very good way. Much of my praise comes from the freedom of choice the game allows you to play by allowing you to do seemingly ordinary actions such as watering the plant, petting your cat, cooking, listening to music and more (assuming you had no idea as to the reasons for doing so). These actions are a reflection of us. It offers and explores insights into our own psyches, perhaps allowing us to better face reality in our own lives.
In my opinion, Lone Survivor is more than just a game. Just as anything can be a medium of expression such as art, music, movies, books and more, video games are becoming an integral and vital part of modern day life in the 21st century. I would consider Lone Survivor as a medium of expression, just as much as I considered Silent Hill II or even the Metal Gear Solid series.
Lastly, I have a thought for future game developers. I have noticed that Silent Hill and Lone Survivor is actually more frightening, not in so much the cheap scares. It is for the psychological terrors of facing our abstract unconscious mind. For example, Silent Hill II dealt with many heavy-handed themes such as sexual repression, religion, fear of death or mortality, morality, loneliness, guilt, violence, rape, incest and everything else that our unconscious mind holds. Meanwhile, Metal Gear Solid’s themes include nuclear deterrence, politics, what it means to be a conscious individual, war, existentialism, technology, governments and military, propaganda, PTSD and more. We need more games like this.
Another idea is how Silent Hill and Lone Survivor goes about dealing with our deepest fears or inner demons. A similar concept was done by a game called “The Sound of Silence” that has stopped development, whereby the game tailors one’s experiences to our own fears such as loneliness, fear of the dark and more depending on a person’s actions. Games such as this can be a healing tool for people who suffer from depression or similar disorders as it helps them face down their fears indirectly without them realizing it.I remember finishing Silent Hill II, with a fresh start in life after going through a very rough and lonely patch in life. I’m not sure how it works. Just my thoughts.
So, here’s the end of the post.
I hope you all enjoyed this article and thank you for reading.