Developer: Superflat Games
Not being much of an indie player, until just after playing Lone Survivor, and my subsequent purchase of my very own Humble Bundle, I went into this game with quite a bit of scepticism. I heard the little bit of hype, read the reviews and my thoughts were… How can a side scroller be scary? Especially to the degree the reviewers are going on about? This former mindset has taken quite a beating about halfway into this game and the end result is this review!
Lone Survivor is a side scroller, survival horror game developed by Jasper Byrne’s Superflat games. You take on the role of an unknown protagonist aka yourself. It gets quickly established that the world has gone to hell and most(or all) of the population has been infected with some disease turning them into weird thin men among other things. The only thing protecting you from the same fate is your wits and your trustee surgical mask!
I say most or all of the population, not because there isn’t any other human characters in the game, but because the game subtly and repeatedly hints that these people may not be real and is perhaps a product of the protagonists ever-growing insanity. The game continually plays with this trend of insanity and even incorporates it into the survival mechanic. Your character needs sleep and as a result you often have to return back to the apartment to rest out, drink some of the variety of stimulants(which has their own pitfalls) or risk starting to lose grip on reality, the same happens in the dark if your flashlight goes out.
The survival mechanic is actually very well incorporated and balanced. Unlike with modern day “survival horrors” this game actually incorporates some actual surviving. You have to scavenge for food, tools, ammo and anything else you may need. You have to manage these or risk running out. The result is the player is soon forced to adapt a survivor mindset, having to carefully plan his trips to the outside. Wasting just a few bullets, your food or even your batteries(Damn you superflat gameboy thingy!) will mean eventual death.
The monsters, obstacles and environments you face all help to build the feeling of terror and dread and you will quickly be immersed in the game. Along with this comes the games background story that plays a role, as well as the games pixelly look that works perfectly in its context. The soundtrack also is amazing and I could just open the game to listen to the title sequence music most of the day if I wanted. The levels are simple but well designed and generally the gameplay is smooth and plays well.
A few negative comments would be the sheer lack or direction you will sometimes face in either what to do or where to go. This can be frustrating at times when you have to head out on an already tight budget and risk losing precious resources while not accomplishing a specific goal but actually just trying to figure out what it is! The diary and radio are there to help with this but although sometimes useful, they can be just as vague as well. Second would be the fighting. Although this is a minor issue as you will mostly avoid fighting where you can anyway, when it comes down too shooting either a thin man or the fat one, it’s a pain in the ass. Being hard enough to aim without them jumping around the place and advancing faster than your remarkably slow shooting gun and spit out bullets. Same idea applies to the fat men that tank more bullets than even fps games would have to spear. These are minor issues though as you can mostly avoid or sneak past any uglies with either rotting meat, flares or just good old running away!
For what the game sets out to achieve its succeeds remarkably. Along with an interesting enveloping little story, the mood, art and the amazing soundtrack, all in all this is a must play for both the indie enthusiast as well as the regular gamer. For me personally this was the most fun I have had with a survival horror in recent memory and reminds me of the good old days in the genre. Go get it now from steam and support the creator. He earned every buck coming his way with this great game!
BornAgainGamer approves with a 8/10