Lone Survivor is a survival horror game that pays homage to the good games we used to have in this genre years ago. When I first started playing on my Vita, I was instantly reminded of how I felt when I played Silent Hill so many years ago. That feeling of unease you get when you play one of these games is in full effect. So, let’s dig into the creepy details, shall we?
You are a masked protagonist, stuck in an apartment in a city ravaged by disease. Your supplies have been exhausted, so you set out to look for other survivors, and escape the city by any means possible. The question is: can you survive without going insane? This is the basic story of Lone Survivor. There are plenty of twists and turns throughout this game, and a lot of moments that will make you say…”What the hell is that?”
First off, the graphics are really pretty amazing. They are sprite-based, so nothing special to look at in that respect, but the effects used make the atmosphere come alive. The sprite work itself is really well done. The environments look like something out of your worst nightmares. The lighting effect of the flashlight as you creep down each dark corridor adds a feeling of suspense. You never know what you are going to run into. The flashlight works really well, and will illuminate items lying around, as well. It also helps that the game will pop up an X when there is an item, something you can examine or a doorway you can use. The character and monster designs are nothing all that special, but the main character wearing a surgical mask is quite freaky to look at, and fits in with the story well. Playing this in the dark really is the best way to play, as the game recommends when you start.
The sound effects and music only add to the horrifying aspect of this game. The music itself has some industrial noise throughout it. The bangs and clangs in the music makes the feeling of unease a thousand times more intense. The sound effects are all well made, and timed perfectly– in many cases to scare the crap out of you. The sound design in general is top notch, and some of the best work I’ve heard in many years. It is recommended that you play this with headphones on, and I totally agree. It will immerse you so much more into the horrifying atmosphere.
The game is basically a side scroller, though there is a background and a foreground. As you approach enemies, there will be several different methods for dealing with them. You may decide to hide in the background where there are nooks and crannies, use some rotten meat you obtain to distract them, or pull out the ol’ pistol and handle them cowboy-style. If you drop a piece of rotten meat on the floor, the enemies will be distracted with eating that, and allow you to escape. Another way to escape is by staying in the light since the enemies are afraid of light and will not come into it. Some of the bigger monsters in the game you will have to outwit rather than fight in combat. You could play this entire game without firing a single shot if you so choose.
Another big part of the gameplay is, well , survival. You will have to eat, sleep and not get eaten by the monsters that roam the city. One of the more interesting aspects of this are pills that you find lying around the areas. There are three different pills, two of these will make you sleepy while the other wakes you up. If you take a pill to help you sleep, it will sometimes help you rest better, thereby making you recover more. You will have a strange dream as a side effect, and there are some other side effects, as well, but those are a bit spoilerish. You will want to be wary of using these pills a lot, as they will affect which ending you receive. There are no health meters to speak of, though the screen will flash red when you are about to die. You can recover health by eating food, and some food will recover more health than others.
My only complaint in the gameplay department is the path finding. I had a hard time in a couple of spots figuring out where to go or what to do next. This can come with the territory on these types of games, but I still felt it was a bit annoying at times. To add to this, the in-game maps you find are not really helpful at all. Though they would be passable for an older style game, I guess I have been spoiled a bit by maps in modern gaming. The other issue I ran into with this title is there are some spikes in difficulty. You will be going through areas with relative ease, then get stuck in an area with a crazy amount of enemies. This can break the flow of the game at times.
I personally would have never thought a survival horror title would ever work in 2D. I was totally wrong. The intense gameplay, great looking graphics and wonderful sound design make this a must-have for any fan of the genre. It has been a long time since I have played a survival horror game that really felt like one. Other than the few path-finding and map issues, this is a very solid title. It took me about eight hours to finish, and was well worth the $12.99 price point. There are a few different endings you can obtain, which gives this title a bit of replay value. If you are looking for a creepy, edge-of-your-seat game to play this Halloween for a small price, you need look no further.
Game was purchased by the reviewer.