Lone Survivor (video game)
|Release date(s)||PC, Mac, Linux
September 24, 2013
Lone Survivor is a 2012 independent survival horror video game for the PC, developed by Jasper Byrne under Superflat Games. PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita ports were released in 2013 as Lone Survivor: The Director's Cut. The Director's Cut came out on PC and Mac as a free update on October 31, 2013.
Lone Survivor is a post-apocalyptic survival horror game with retro-styled 2D graphics. Players control a man in a surgical mask. This character is an isolated survivor of an infection which has turned the world's population into aggressive, shambling mutants. With limited food and an increasingly fragile mental state, the player character must be guided outside his apartment to scavenge and explore. There are no indications that any other survivors exist except for a note which states that there are other survivors on the opposite side of the apartment building.
The player character's apparent hallucinations provide directions for the player. When exploring the game world the player will discover items, keys and food. Two-way mirrors found in the game world are used to teleport back to the survivor's apartment. Items can be combined in order to solve puzzles. Players possess a flashlight with which to navigate the game world; using the flashlight drains batteries; replacements can be found by scavenging. Mutants must be avoided or killed; a pistol must be found in order to attack mutants, but ammunition is scarce. When the pistol's magazine is empty the survivor automatically loads a new magazine, leaving him vulnerable to attack during the process. Mutants are attracted to light and noises; the player can sneak past by hiding in the shadows. The game features a map for players to navigate with, however the game does not pause when the game's menus or map are accessed, leaving the survivor open to attack.
The survivor's apartment serves as a hub; the player must return with food in order to survive, as well as sleep. Sleeping prevents madness and is also required to save the player's progress. It is possible to combat lack of sleep with pills; these further damage the survivor mentally but the resultant hallucination may result in extra supplies appearing in the survivor's apartment. Progression through the game requires exploration, which fills out the map; sometimes specific items must be located in order to proceed further. Failing to locate these items can result in resources being spent without new areas being opened up, making future attempts more difficult.
Throughout the game references are made to the survivor's state of mind. It is possible to have discussions with a toy cat; strange characters such as a man with a box on his head are encountered. Rooms may change appearance upon being revisited; making a wrong turn may result in a strange scene. It becomes difficult to interpret what is real to the survivor and what is hallucination. The player's interactions with the game's world and inhabitants result in different endings upon completion of the game. These are shown during the game's end credits, emphasizing how the player received that particular ending. A single playthrough of the game can last between three and eight hours.
A nameless man in a surgical mask (referred to in the game as "You") has been living in an apartment for an unspecified amount of time after a disease has turned most of the world's inhabitants into mindless zombie-like monsters. The man is alone and unsure if there are any other survivors. He dreams that he is on stage attempting conversation with a man with a box on his head, who says nothing. After giving up on this conversation, he drinks a cup of coffee, that causes the scene to change and he is forced to sneak past one of the monsters. Going past the stage curtain, he encounters a girl in a blue dress. Though he asks her many questions, she never responds or shows her face. When he touches her, she disappears and leaves behind a flashlight. As the man turns the light on, a man in blue, with a shot wound, appears laughing and the dream ends.
In the waking world the man is out of supplies, and is forced to explore for food, weapons, and other survivors. Following leads picked up from his radio, annotated maps, and discarded diary entries, the man explores the apartment complex, which is infested with the monsters. He is contacted over the radio by a man who refers to himself as "The Director," who occasionally provides the man supplies. Though their encounters are brief, the man and The Director begin to form a friendship. He also encounters the girl in a blue dress from his dream, who he claims seems familiar. As he explores, a series of bizarre, seemingly paranormal events occur and it seems the man is struggling with his sanity. After many day spent possibly dreaming of the man in blue or the man who wears a box (which change and are influenced by the man's actions in the waking world), and many nights spent in confrontation with a large and aggressive monster, the man is able to leave the apartment safely, and begin to explore the city.
The Director tells him that he is going to leave the city. Determined to get past a crashed bus, the man gathers supplies so he may open the bus door. Not sure what to expect, the man is attacked by a large, screaming monster with scythe-like arms which acts as the game's final boss. After a brief confrontation, the monster flees and the man finds The Director mortally wounded. In their final conversation, The Director tells him that he should go to the hospital to find the girl in the blue dress, and gives him the hospital's security code. Upon arriving at the hospital, he finds a clipboard with his name on it, even though he has never been a patient there. He proceeds to the room indicated on the clipboard where the door shuts and he becomes trapped. Seeing nothing else to do, he takes a blue or green pill (depending on how the player progressed though the game) at the bedside and then goes to sleep.
The final scene is different depending on the choices that the player has made throughout the game. The man may encounter the man in blue again on the stage that he dreampt of at the game's opening, who taunts and laughs at him, leading the man to shoot him. In these endings, after shooting the man in blue, the man's appearance changes to resemble the man in blue, possibly implying suicide or a descent into further madness. The secondary ending, the 'green' ending is seen as the better of the two. In this ending it is suggested through cryptic and brief flashbacks of conversations that the woman in blue was a sister, spouse, or girl-friend to the man and that it is she who died in some form of accident or in illness (although it is implied that it could be the result of a car bomb). It is at least hinted that in living through survivors guilt the man goes though a psychotic episode and is admitted into a psychiatric ward in which he experiences the game up until that point as an insane musing - combating both the violent nature of himself (presumed as the man in blue) and his imaginings which serve to pull him away from the truth. It becomes difficult to tell if the man is dreaming, has awoken and regained sanity, or even if he is still alive. In all endings, the man has a final conversation with the girl in the blue dress, and a shot of the two looking out upon the city in different levels of condition, though the green endings concludes with an apparently older and healthy version of the man turning to face the camera.
Lone Survivor received positive reviews from critics, with most reviewers praising the game for its storyline and gameplay, but some reviewers criticized the game for not delivering on the psychological horror aspect. It received a score of 80.62% on GameRankings and 81/100 on Metacritic.
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