Jasper Byrne’s Lone Survivor: Director’s Cut Review – He’s Not Smiling

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A lot of horror games draw influence from Silent Hill 2. There’s good reason for this because Silent Hill 2 is the best game in a series of games that pretty much helped lay the groundwork for how horror is done in video games.

Lone Survivor does more than draw influence from Silent Hill 2 though; it basically is someone’s Silent Hill fanfiction. The only way it could be more like Silent Hill is if it was called Silent Hill: Lone Survivor.

If Silent Hill had debuted on the Super Nintendo, it would probably look a lot like this. I’m not saying any of this is bad, I’m just calling it what it is. If you need more Silent Hill in your life, you’re better off playing this than any game Konami has released this console generation.

Lone Survivor is the best Silent Hill game anyone has made since Team Silent disbanded with the completion of The Room.

Spoiler Alert: The main character is wearing a surgical mask. That’s not some insane shit eating grin. There’s a virus of some kind that turns people into monsters, you’re the only person that doesn’t have it, hence the title of the game.

You are the last man standing, and you’d like to continue to do so. You need to explore your apartment building in order to find food, and hopefully another person. Also, you’re slowly going insane, so there’s that to deal with.

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The game is a 2D side scrolling game. You explore rooms by moving left to right, walk through doors and interact with the world with the X Button. At the start of the game you won’t have a weapon to use, so you’ll have to rely on the game’s stealth mechanic. This involves pressing X in front of a shadowy part of the wall and pressing X again when the monster you are trying to get past walks behind you.

You can also leave chunks of rotten meat on the floor to distract enemies or entice them to move further down the room. Once you get a gun, you can kill monsters, but ammo is scarce so you need to choose your targets wisely.

Aside from the stealth mechanic Lone Survivor has a few other things that set it apart from other experiences. You can take various pills that augment your ability. One pill cause dream sequences when you sleep to save your game, but aside from that I never figured out what the rest of them actually do.

You also need to eat and different foods are more satisfying than others. One feature I really did enjoy was the ability to collect various kitchen utilities and prepare more complex meals.

Navigating your apartment building can sometimes be a chore. It’s easy to get lost even though the building isn’t very large, although checking your map often helps. If you check you map in the dark it’s hard to actually see what you’re looking at which is a neat little detail.

You’ll do a lot of back tracking in the game which in and of itself is fine, but this combined with the game’s stealth element quickly become tedious as there ends up being a lot of standing around and waiting for enemies to walk by you.

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The enemies in Lone Survivor are legitimately creepy, which is a serious accomplishment for a game with sprite based art style. When they aren’t attacking you, they kind of amble around pathetically. You can kind of see their bones through their skin.

They’re frightening because they aren’t inherently threatening. They do pose a threat, especially when there are more than two on the screen, and they’ll occasionally do interesting things like leap unto the ceiling.

I’m in a weird position as a reviewer. I didn’t enjoy Lone Survivor: Director’s Cut, but I do think that the game is worth your time and money. Also, I’m happy I got a chance to play it. This version is clearly the definitive version with plenty of added content particularly in the New Game+.

It’s just that the game has so many systems and features, like the pills and stealth system that felt underutilized and unrefined. This combined with how painstaking back tracking can become when you don’t have the bullets to quickly kill an enemy. Coming from this, you have to carefully sneak by several times, this makes the game sometimes unpleasant to play.

How much you get out of Lone Survivor will depend wholly on home much you enjoy its particular brand of horror. There are some real powerful mind fuck moments to be had, and the music and visuals, while heavily reminiscent of Silent Hill, are every bit as powerful as what you will find there.

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John Sabin