INSOMNIA

Lone Survivor (2012, PC)

By Eammy / May 20, 2014


Lone Survivor is a Flash game sold as a retail game that you pay for rather than the usual Flash games you see for free on the internet. One benefit of using such a platform for retail purposes is that it makes cross-compatibility quite easy. This game is supported on Windows, Linux and on Mac, and a demo was released on the internet. A decent strategy, but considering the quality of this game, it doesn't deserve a retail release. But hey, worrying about what deserves what treatment doesn't change anything. The point is, this is not a good game. It advertises itself as survival horror, and fails hard.
   The graphics are extremely low-res and primitive, which would in principle undermine any attempts at a survival horror effect, though credit has to go to the author for some charming backgrounds and character designs (apart from the protagonist's of course — can't have an "indie" game without a protagonist who looks retarded), and the welcome scanline effect — all things that are very rare for the game of an "indie" bum. The sound design, however, consists of loud noises when a blocky something lurches towards you (which end up being more annoying than anything else) and repetitive "sinister" noises everywhere else. There's also some guitar-playing. Amateurish of course. This is a common running theme of this game. The story and dialogue read like they were written by a child. They really do. Let's not talk about them. They are so pathetic. The mechanics... now initially, they were decent. I found the idea of purely 2D side-scrolling navigation and visuals for an action-adventure game interesting. Doors in the background and foreground allow travel to interconnected rooms. The map is functional and works well, even though it acted as progress indicator to how close I was to the next goal, which backfired on any attempts at "horror" or immersion. The shooting mechanic is simplistic, clunky and annoying. There is only one weapon, a pistol. The game goes as far as to make up excuses why you can't use other weapons or melee options (ok so you don't want to get close to the monsters, but what if you are FORCED to? Still don't want to use that axe? Apparently so.) And whoever says that bad mechanics add to the "horror" (i.e.: the immersion) should be punched in the face. And whoever says that bad graphics allow your mind to fill in the gaps better than an artist ever could should be kicked in the balls repeatedly. Generally speaking, that's not how it works. With this game, it looks silly and continues to look silly when you shoot a stupid blocky thing, which results in stupid blocky blood. Production values are very important.
   So other than the 2D action-adventure setup (i.e.: the bare basics), this game practically doesn't have anything going for it. You see, about half the things you do in this game DON'T EVEN MATTER (like giving a cat catfood to lure it into your home, or playing a Game Boy device) other than for an asinine hidden system to determine what incredibly pathetic ending you get. You don't NEED to do much to win. The puzzles are, when you break it down, basic fetch quests. They're not even challenging! The game just wastes your time dealing with the repetitive enemies. And if you run out of bullets, the game just flat out GIVES you more bullets! And then there is this guy that occasionally just GIVES you free items (no obligations, conditions, challenge or anything), and if you take a chill pill before you sleep, the fucking dreamworld just GIVES you more items. I mean, how on earth is this survival horror? How am I having a horrible time surviving? I don't even need to take the time to get the items to cook food. Why bother? I mostly lived on simplistic snacks through the whole game. There's not even that much content. When I got to the hospital I was expecting more challenging interior levels, but all I got was a stupid hallway leading to a stupid ending. Then you have these stupid setpieces like a large monster chasing you down hallways and when you are barely escaping it and go through a door and then go BACK through the same door, the monster is chasing you from the FAR END of the hallway all over again! (Meaning you can look at that map of yours as long as you want if you're lost.) Or how about that super easy "boss fight" late into the game? Yeah, this is totally not survival horror. It goes back to what I said about how amateurish the whole thing is. That's all it is. In theory this sort of thing could work but not when you lack the skill to make it work! Meaning that there is nothing interesting to see here. I do not recommend this game to anyone.

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