Having seen the trailer for The Long Dark, there was something compelling that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I had played many survival sandbox games on the PC but this was new to Xbox One. It was one of the first to use the new Preview feature on the Xbox Marketplace which gave me all the motivation I needed. It was time to test my survival skills on this cold isolated mountain range…

The ‘demo’ allows for one hour of total play time and you’re going to need every minute of it. It is limited to Sandbox mode with Story mode coming later. All we know at the start of the game is that you play the role of a pilot (male or female) that had to crash their plane due to strange circumstances. Our Sandbox adventure begins in a random area of a huge map. What you do from there to survive is entirely up to you. Word to the wise: the first thing you should do is seek shelter as your temperature will begin to plummet in these harsh conditions. Decisions you make at the beginning of your game are key to surviving your first night. Do you climb up to get a better view of your surroundings in the hopes of finding somewhere to give you an advantage or do you follow a frozen river that may lead to some trace of civilization? You will eventually find locations left to discover which almost always have some sort of food/weapon/tools that are key to your survival. Use them wisely!

The areas you will be thrust into reminds one of the sweeping snowy vistas in ‘The Shining’ with regard to atmosphere. Things are eerily quiet with minimal ambient noises which, if you’ve ever been on a snowy mountaintop at dawn is just about right. Staying too long to admire the scenery will spell certain doom as time is ticking and situations turn for the worst. You always have the feeling that staying too long in any one spot will attract unwanted attention and unneeded delays. It gives you a sense that you need to keep moving and to keep finding things to improve your situation. Also, unlike most games you can not fall from great heights without suffering damages or succumbing to death from your wounds  … so tread lightly.

I was able to find shelter on the frozen river where someone had left a shack to go ice fishing. Unfortunately I had sustained injuries getting down the side of a mountain and didn’t survive the night. This is where my time with the demo came to an end. For the one hour I found myself entirely transfixed on trying to improve the situation around me which kept things fresh and constantly moving.

Those of you with an Xbox Gold account should definitely give this preview a try if you like games that ooze atmosphere and require you to think your way out of situations where your worst enemy could just be the decisions you make.

Let me know what you think of the demo after you’ve tried it. I’d like to hear your take on it…just remember not to get too close to any steep slopes!