COGWATCH – 4. The Long Dark

Hey! It’s a new episode of Quinns’ weekly video series in which he examines one mechanic in one game. This week: how first-person survival game The Long Dark [official site] uses item degradation as more than a nuisance, creating tension and reward among its chilly snowdrifts and ferocious wolves.

Like it? Part one was on rhythm in roguelike Crypt of the Necrodancer, part two was about co-op in cart-based platformer Chariot, part three was on risk and reward in procedural stealth game Invisible, Inc.

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  1. heretic says:

    This week has gone on for far too long, been waiting for this!!!

  2. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    Another delightful video. I do worry about Quinns, though. I am assuming his house degregaded to 0% and he has been forced to live inside of a waste bin.

  3. Synesthesia says:

    I would like they would lose percentage as a way to show this, though. Obscuring it pushes the gamey part of the game further behind the curtains, bringing you closer to the place. Like red orchestra, or ace does: “The magazine feels heavy”.

  4. Wedge says:

    I had been interested in this game, but despite what you say I think I’ve most of it now. Unless the global “geomagnetic” disaster has made every tool on the planet a bit wobbly, it’s entirely possible to have items like a can opener that are fairly well immune to degradation and destruction. That and it looks a bit… rough graphically. I mean I know it isn’t done, but after seeing Firewatch I think my standards for wilderness exploration might be set too high.

    • shrieki says:

      i also thought the graphics would put me off- but the game looks actually really good once you are playing. the storybook style really works well in this game. it is very immersive and game-play is fun and fluid. imo this game sets a high standard for any other survival game out there.

  5. racccoon says:

    Great narration video loved it.

  6. Raoul Duke says:

    I really like the idea of these posts, but video-only is a deal breaker, unfortunately.

  7. Serenegoose says:

    Currently my favourite series on the site. Fine work.

  8. theapeofnaples says:

    This is great, thanks

  9. jeeger says:

    Love, love, love Cogwatch! Thank you Quinns and thank you RPS for having him. Every video leads to me adding some game to my wishlist.

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    Ninja Dodo says:

    Good video. Definitely keep doing these.

  11. Shiloh says:

    Nice one Quinns. I don’t mind item degradation in games, or repair – indeed, my fave survival sim Unreal World has both of these. Roasted fish goes off after a couple of days and can make you sick as a dog, but salted or dried fish lasts *much* longer. You can repair your clothes (within certain limitations). Weapons chip and armour gets dented the more you get bashed around.

    Item degradation forces you to pay attention to what you’re doing, and to carefully evaluate risk over reward – in a world like UrW’s where weapons and armour can be hard to come by, that’s an important facet of game design.

  12. defunct says:

    I find the degradation in the game entirely unrealistic and off putting. Between it, and the insane wolf attacks, I already gave up on the game. Examples of degrading: matches will become totally worthless within a few months. I’ve had the same box of matches in my real house for the last 20 years. It’s a big box and I don’t use many. They still work. I’ve had an axe that I use for chopping wood for more than a decade. After one day of chopping, you can throw your axe out the window in the game. Oh, except you can’t. Windows are just for show.

    I loved the graphics and some of the survival aspects, but it became too unfun for me.

    • tehfish says:

      The most recent content patch largely fixed the wolf attacks IMHO.
      They’re still dangerous, but the game is no longer a ‘avoid wolves at all costs’ simulator and is much better for it.

      It’ll be when they add in the story mode that the game will come into it’s own i reckon.