Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut is a fairly unsettling experience. Jasper Byrne’s take on psychological horror looks to disturb from the outset, recommending that players confine themselves to a darkened environment, turn up the volume and make sure that they aren’t interrupted throughout the game’s four-hour brevity.
Immersion is entirely key to the experience, with players thrust into a world where your unnamed character is fighting for his very survival. A disease outbreak has ravaged the world’s population, leaving you to hide away in your flat as the monsters that have been left behind wander the long abandoned halls. Believing yourself to be alone in the world – the self-styled lone survivor – you must brave the post-apocalyptic world that surrounds you when your supplies near depletion.
The narrative is largely led by intermittent hallucinations, suitably jarring instances that will continually make you question what’s real in the world. A young girl and a man in blue drive such curiosity, and this will see you through to the game’s resolution where your answers will hopefully be answered.
Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut plays out as somewhat of an adventure game in style, despite its psychological horror inclinations. Interacting with the world around you is a necessity as you forage for food, items and ammo that will help ward off the lone survivor’s incessant mumblings about his stomach grumbling and exhaustion. You’ll manage your inventory as you use items to help achieve your objectives or combine food together to make more sumptuous meals. Maps will help guide your way although could be much clearer in execution, while sporadic mirrors will allow you to beam from their location back to the safety of your apartment – where sleeping lets you save your game.
Progression is largely left to the player, deciding whether to make sure that you are nourished and well-rested or powering on through your plight by taking coloured pills. It is similarly down to you as to how you tackle the mindless horrors that stalk the corridors. You can sneak past by skulking in the shadows, stun them with flares before running to safety, or choose to rely on your pistol to neutralise everything in your path with successive headshots. These survival choices that you make may seem unimportant at the time, but will directly affect which of the multiple endings to Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut that you will witness at the game’s climactic conclusion.
Sadly, while Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut may promise plenty of additional content, it is still over in a matter of hours – meaning that it’s hard not to think the price of admission is a little steep. With only a handful of side quests to deter your from your task, there isn’t much to extend your experience noticeably further.
Success can be drawn from the wondrously animated 2D pixelated graphical style, and the accompanying soundscape that helps encapsulate the madness of your surroundings. It is in these areas that the strengths to Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut can be found, even if, aside from the story, there isn’t much diversity in approach.
In Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut, Jasper Byrne and Superflat Games have created something truly memorable but doesn’t quite result in firing on all cylinders. The adventure may be a short one, but it’s certainly one worth embarking on for those intrigued by its psychological twists.