Lone Survivor: Director’s Cut

8 Overall Score
Gameplay: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 9/10

Great Atmosphere |Amazing sound

Inventory management | Campaign Length

Game Info

GAME NAME: Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut

DEVELOPER(S): Curve Studios / Superflat Games

PUBLISHER(S): Curve Digital

PLATFORM(S): Nintendo Wii U

GENRE(S): Survival Horror

RELEASE DATE(S): October 16th, 2014

Have you ever wondered what Survival Horror classics like Resident Evil and Silent Hill might look and play like before the 3D era in gaming?  Well Superflat Games and Curve Digital answer that question with the introduction of Lone Survivor: Director’s Cut for the Nintendo Wii U. Lone Survivor is the story of you, both literally and figuratively. As a protagonist named “You”,  your journey begins with very little information on what exactly caused the horrific events or what is generally going on, leaving you as the player just as confused as your protagonist, and that is about as much as I can tell you without getting into spoiler territory. Just know that the experience is intentionally crafted that way and is all the better for it as the story unfolds, which is also why this review may be vague at times.

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On the gameplay side of things, Lone Survivor adheres to some very old school gaming sensibilities and design. Because of that, this is where your enjoyment of the game will really come into play, as well as some of the issues that arise due to this decision.  The inventory management system is probably the weakest aspect of Lone Survivor, due to the fact that there is some hardcore micromanaging going on at times. For example, you will need to find a can opener to open a can of food that you need to eat. Every decision you make (including the food you eat) in Lone Survivor can effect your gameplay experience in many different ways, making the game even more difficult.

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Lone Survivor requires you to pay attention to every detail presented to you on screen. From the descriptions of the items you pick up, the environment you investigate, to lines of dialog from your character, it is a must to pay attention and remember the information given to you. All of this is very important as it ties directly into the many aspects of gameplay, from Sanity effects, puzzles, where to go next, which ending you get and, yes, even game saves. In the process of playing for the review, I played for a good hour or two not really paying attention to my character when he told me he was hungry. This affected my mental state (in the game of course) so when I slept to save my game, the character made a comment about forgetting everything. I played it off and didn’t pay any mind to it. When I came back to the game later and pushed “continue”, I was right back at the beginning. I had “forgotten” all that I had done, it had become a strange dream, for an example.

Navigation in the game is simple and straightforward and there are maps for each area available as you find them. The map layout can be confusing at first due to the 2D nature of the gameplay and map layout. After about 20 minutes of play time I was heading to points of interest and objectives with ease.

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On the graphical end of things, Lone Survivor is impressive for the late 16-bit, early 32-bit 2D pixel style art the game presents. From your apartment complex to the hospital you’ll explore, the art really helps convey the sense of dread and fear the game is going for. This makes the environment just as important as the other characters you’ll interact with in the game. Speaking of which, the supporting cast of characters you encounter all have their own unique visual style and animate nicely. Playing Lone Survivor on the GamePad looks fantastic, while sitting close and playing on a large screen TV will effect the overall graphical fidelity. Playing at a normal distance of about 15′ from your TV, the game still looks great though, and is one of the better offerings on the eShop.

Now for what is arguably the best aspect of Lone Survivor, the sound. This is an area that could easily make or break a game like this and thankfully they really knocked it out of the park. The sound really is the glue that not only holds it together but makes the game what it is. A lot of what makes for great suspense and that feeling of dread is great and subtle sound design. The sound and music not only help immerse you in to the world of Lone Survivor, it also gives you audible clues to help you. From the audio shifts and noises in the background when your mental state drops to the subtle audio of an enemy moving from one side of the screen to other and the haunting music, Lone Survivor hits all the right notes. At the beginning, it’s recommended to use a pair of earphones or a home entertainment style speaker set up for the best experience, and I highly recommend doing so. I did play a portion of the game using just my TV speakers and while the sound was still able to immerse me in the game, plugging in my earphones really brought it to the next level.

The Recommendation

Gamers that are familiar with classic survival horror titles and adventure titles will be right at home with Lone Survivor, while others not so comfortable with the genres may struggle with its inventory management and puzzle elements. The tension and sense of dread Lone Survivor created really took me by surprise due to the 2D sprite based nature of the game, and that is definitely thanks to the audio design of the title. While the game’s playthrough can be relatively short, it helps with the replay value and seeing the multiple endings the game offers. That being said, the game is not going to appeal to everyone, but if you enjoy games like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Eternal Darkness, and Grim Fandango, Lone Survivor is a game you should experience.  Lone Survivor: Directors Cut continues Curve Digital’s streak in bringing high quality titles to the Wii U eShop for a wide range of gamers. And with the other titles they’ve given us, like the Wii U exclusive Stealth Inc 2 : A Game of Clones, Thomas was Alone, and The Swapper, Curve Digital is becoming a premier Wii U Nindie developer and publisher.

Summary

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Author: Ryan Shiflett View all posts by
Life-long Nintendo fan who loves videogames from all genres, generations, and devs. Play games not Consoles.