HEADLINES:
November 20 2017
An apocalypse on earth and in outer space
08 August 2017

With Tacoma, discover how crew members aboard an aircraft perished, while The Long Dark tests your survival skills

The Long Dark

Developer: Hinterland Studio Inc.

Price: Approximately ₹700 on PC. Approximately ₹2000 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

The very first shot of the The Long Dark is a warning that says, ‘Do not attempt what you learn on The Long Dark in real life. Doing so could lead to injury, illness and even death’. With a disclaimer like that, you know things are about to get serious. It’s understandable, as The Long Dark is the latest indie hit, that focuses on survival in the extremes of a winter wonderland.

What’s it about?

You play a pilot who has crash-landed in a cold and frostbitten Canadian wilderness. In the wake of what the game calls a ‘quiet apocalypse’, you uncover what has happened to the world after a geomagnetic disaster (a sort of electromagnetic blackout). You’re left to the mercy of the elements and the wild.

The story itself is quite well-narrated and engaging, piquing your curiosity as the game explores a disaster that has thrown the world off the power grid. The environment in The Long Dark gives off a vibe similar to The Revenant; it’s a dangerous world, which once mastered, you can lose yourself to. The game’s got a riveting story and the freedom to let you explore its world.

How does it play?

There are two game modes to The Long Dark. The episodic story mode combines both the survival aspects of the game in a structured narrative. Then there’s the Survival mode, which has been in beta for a while, that throws you in one of several sandbox areas. Hardcore survival is at the core of The Long Dark’s gameplay, where you have to forage for resources, food, wood for fires and new weapons to fight off wild animals. Not only that, you must balance your body temperature, caloric intake, hunger/thirst, fatigue, wind-chill and manage how much energy you expend doing physical things. If you get wounded, that could mean the end of you.

The Survival mode has randomly generated enemies and resources, so no two games are ever the same. As a result, The Long Dark can be a slow trudge if you are not into survival games.

Yet, its world is so beautifully rendered, you will find yourself wading through snow in what you hope is the direction to the nearest cabin or shelter.

As disasters go, it turns out geomagnetic ones are the most beautiful, with the skies splayed in an array of auroras. The Long Dark is a drop-dead gorgeous game with minimalist menus and a design that harks back to Half-Life 2. Though, in its simplicity, it does get lost in translation, as a majority of your time will be spent fighting to understand what is expected of you.

Should you get it?

If you love survival games, then The Long Dark is right up your frozen hinterland alley.

Tacoma

Developer: Fullbright

Price: Approximately ₹585 on PC and ₹1,200 on Xbox One

Its different narrative format earned Gone Home a lot of praise. As a first-person adventure game, it let you explore an abandoned house to uncover what happened there. With Tacoma, Fullbright takes their storytelling into the sci-fi realm.

What’s it about?

You play an agent Amy Ferrier, assigned to investigate the space station Tacoma, after it has gone silent. Once on board, Amy discovers that a meteor impact had taken out the life support systems, leaving the crew of six to die slowly. You use augmented reality tech on the ship to conjure up ‘ghosts of the crew members’. Assisted by Tacoma’s AI named ODIN, you have to piece together what transpired in those final days.

How does it play?

Tacoma is a game that’s all story and exploration, with a staggering amount of detail packed into the habitats. Everything presents itself as a clue. Most importantly, everything tells a little story. While there is an overarching narrative, it pales in comparison to the detail poured into a story that’s told through faceless hologram ghosts. You become vested in the characters that are facing certain death.

Aside from the characters and their stories, there is also the universe that Tacoma is a part of. As you fall deeper down the rabbit hole, you uncover conspiracies and future corporations’ political games. Yet, what constantly plays on your mind even after the game is over, are those very human stories that resonate with you.

The graphics are beautiful and work well. Yet, what stands out are the performances of each of the actors who play those ghosts. Conveying such deep emotion through the beautifully animated AR silhouettes deserves a special mention. What Fullbright has done with Tacoma is a gentle nod towards the classic System Shock, with its ghosts and eerie atmosphere. But the end result is something absolutely original.

Should you get it?

Tacoma is an unconventional, narrative-driven game. It involves a lot of exploration and reading into your surrounding environment. Think of Tacoma as reading a lengthy book, but presented in a different, more compelling form.

Julian Almeida is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel

 

 

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