When Lone Survivor was released in 2012, it quickly became an indie horror darling. Taking a heavy dose of inspiration from early games in the Silent Hill franchise (especially notable when you realize that the games creator, Jasper Byrne, created a 2D “demake” of Silent Hill 2 called Soundless Mountain II), the game was able to craft a more interesting, and often times more frightening atmosphere than almost any recent major horror game. Now, Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut has made its way onto the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita and the experience is just as terrifying.
In Lone Survivor, you play as a nameless survivor of the apocalypse. You awaken in your apartment building, with foggy memories of your past ringing through your dreams. As you begin to play, you realize that the plague that killed much of humanity turned almost every survivor into mindless husks of beings, leaving your to fend for yourself in a harsh, unforgiving nightmare of a world.
The atmosphere is nearly perfectly set in Lone Survivor. As you traverse through your apartment, foraging for supplies and any other possible survivors, the world shifts into a dark hellish landscape. Oftentimes, doors will be blocked by living flesh that you can barely see. The creatures roaming the halls of your apartment become especially terrifying when you play the game in the dark, with a set of high quality headphones. Even people who have completed the PC version of Lone Survivor might still experience a fright or two going into this new iteration.
Lone Survivor plays fairly similar to early Silent Hill games, albeit with a slightly higher emphasis on survival itself. As you roam through this mutated landscape, you will try to find various items to aid in your progress or to help you solve a simple puzzle. Making it from one end of your building to another can be extremely difficult, especially with the hordes of monsters.
Like Silent Hill, you can theoretically kill almost every enemy you encounter. Doing so, however, is incredibly difficult as monsters can take more than a few bullets to kill, and killing too many enemies will result in your sanity decreasing. If you begin to actually care about the health of your character, avoiding too much combat is your best bet at ensuring they will not have a mental breakdown half way through the game.
For the most part, you will likely find yourself hiding from enemies in various positions located throughout the environment. You can use rotted meat to lure creatures away from areas, hide and then pass by unnoticed. That said, the 2D nature of the game, combined with the generally dark color pallet can make actually seeing where these spots are a bit of a chore.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to hide, you can use flares to fend off the creatures for a short period of time, allowing you to run past them without killing them. However, this can lead to a situation where you run past a set of monsters, only to reach a dead end. If you are out of flares, this can lead to a situation where you will have to shoot your way out. These little moments of choosing your path, deciding how you want to play and not always having it work out are fairly incredible. Especially given many games propensity to give you multiple chances, even after you’ve failed. Knowing you are running out of supplies, is it worth it to try to go through an area, only to have nothing beyond? Or do you wait for another opportunity to arise?
As mentioned earlier, the design of the world is incredibly tense and moody. This is helped by expert sound design. Make no mistake, this is not the kind of game where you can just listen to music on your headphones while you play. Listening to every moan from the corridors becomes critical to ensuring your survival. It is often times the only way you will know if an enemy is near you. The tension in these moments is incredible.
That said, if you’ve played the PC version, there isn’t quite enough here to go out and immediately buy this new version. Much of the new content, including new dialog and new endings, are locked away by playing through the games New Game + mode. While this is a neat way to get people to play through the game a second time, those who already own the game on PC will likely find little here, especially since The Director’s Cut is coming to PC at a later date.
However, if you’ve not played Lone Survivor, this new version is easily worth your time. The atmosphere is tense and the game plays just as good with a controller as it does with a mouse and keyboard. Jasper Byrne created something incredibly special with Lone Survivor and The Director’s Cut is easily one of the scariest games on the PlayStation 3 and Playstation Vita.
SCORE: 9.0 out of 10
A code for Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut was provided to Pixel Related for review.