The Long Dark continues on by opening up.
May Contain Some Minor Spoilers.
If you have not played Do Not Go Gentle, it is highly recommended that you do not read this review. Unless of course, you don’t mind a few spoilers.
In case you missed it, I’d recommend you go back to read the review of episode one, Do Not Go Gentle.
Luminance Fugue starts right where The Long Dark left off in Do Not Go Gentle. Will’s gunshot scares off the bear who was preparing his snack, and in the process he manages to save the life of the victim, Jeremiah.
Once you get past the fact that Jeremiah sounds an awful lot like Snake from the Metal Gear Solid series (for obvious reasons), you’re back out in the cold, trying to help out yet another native to Great Bear Island. I won’t be getting into the minute details of your objectives in Luminance Fugue, but you’d probably guess what the primary antagonist of this episode is within the first few minutes.
With Do Not Go Gentle, your foe is the cold and wolves. With Luminance Fugue, it’s a bear. While you won’t face off with the bear immediately – it’s far more likely he’ll tear your face off, after all – the entirety of your time spent will be in preparation for a battle with the killer.
Rolling Back The Curtain
While Do Not Go Gentle kinda railroaded you into following a narrow path, Luminance Fugue takes a closer approach to the Survival Mode. Instead of you being confined to a small area that features few places to visit, you’ll be free to explore Mystery Lake, Forlorn Muskeg, and a new area, Broken Railroad. Those acquainted with The Long Dark will feel right at home in Mystery Lake, and even more so in their new digs. It’ll be a very familiar home for you; that’s all I’ll say about that.
The expansive areas to explore also gave me the feel that there was far more to do, and I’m confident in my assertion that it’s a true statement. I spent a great portion of my time plodding around each area, taking in some of the changes that Hinterland Studio had introduced. I was lucky enough to have a basic understanding of the Broken Railroad map from my time in Survival Mode with Decker, but thankfully it isn’t a complicated are to get used to.
Just as a warning: If you don’t already know, Forlorn Muskeg is not an area you want to go ice skating in.
I felt more at home in Luminance Fugue, probably because it is closer in design (location wise) to the game that I’ve been playing over the last few years. I do hope that future episodes keep this structure.
Where’s My Snowshoes?
Due to the larger size of the playable area, it will likely come as little surprise that you’ll spend much more time traveling in Luminance Fugue. If you’re a fan of the game so far, you won’t consider that a bad thing. However, my one complaint about how the objectives shape up is that you eventually hit a wall in progression that feels like an elaborate tutorial.
In preparation for the final fight, you’ll spend a significant amount of time learning survivalist skills, which is fine for those that are unfamiliar with the mechanics, but it came across as rather tiresome to me. If you don’t mind having your hand held a bit, it likely won’t bother you. If you’re like myself and would like to move forward with a compelling story and learn more of the lore behind what happened on Great Bear Island, then you’ll likely feel like you’re completing busywork.
As a side note, I will admit that there’s a value to the information being presented; I just would’ve preferred a way to continue with the parts I found to be interesting. By the time I arrive at the section of the story that delves into survival skills, I already felt ready to face the bear. Instead, I had to relearn how to hunt, fish, and forage again. I would’ve loved a way to skip the survival skills part.
I had a good time in Luminance Fugue, even with the forced re-education. There were a couple frustrations I had during my playthrough of the episode, like when I didn’t know where to go to get to the Broken Railroad area and got lost, and had half of my clothes ruined with no backups because I was the victim of a bear attack almost immediately after exiting Jeremiah’s home (I rage-quit there).
I loved being able to explore the world more freely, and enjoyed the requirement to conserve resources in preparation for a final showdown. I do wish that I didn’t have to walk barefoot through the snow to find some damn shoes after that aforementioned attack, but you just gotta roll with the punches I guess. I love that the lore is shaping up in interesting ways as well. The slow drip of information is enticing, and is easily the biggest motivation to keeping me on track with the story.
Luminance Fugue might not be perfect, but it’s still damn good. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find a blanket and have some hot tea to warm up.
If you’re interested in learning more about The Long Dark in general, I have a review for you to read. Stay tuned for the review of Episode Three!
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