The Long Dark Story Mode Delayed By Further Additions

Our John is real into the sandbox mode of Early Access survive ’em up The Long Dark [official site], but while I dig its frozen setting I’m not really into surviving for survival’s sake myself. So I was jazzed about December’s news that The Long Dark’s story mode would be coming in spring. Alas, I have to let myself down easy – breathe, Alice, and remember you have so many other games to play – as it seems the story’s held up once more. It’s for a good reason, mind. Developers Hinterland Studio have expanded their campaign plans once again, going bigger and fancier.

As Hinterland’s Raphael van Lierop explained in a blog post today, their plans kept getting bigger. Along the way, Story Mode has ventured into brand-new areas not seen before in the sandbox, gained a second playable character with her own point of view, gone from 2D animated heads for cinematics to full 3D models with motion-captured performances, and added whole new systems. Van Lierop teases:

“Without giving away too many spoilers, these mechanics relate to how you choose to survive in a world with other survivors in it, how do you navigate this world and the knowledge you’ve gained in it, and how is the presence of the Aurora changing the world around you?”

And… all of this takes time. Spring is now upon us, but Story Mode is not. The plan is now for it to launch with two of Season One’s five planned episodes, one more than planned before (“you can’t launch a 2-hour game in this competitive, Steam-refund, Youtube-orientated marketplace”, he says). The two together will 4-6 hours to finish.

But they can’t, or won’t, give a hint of when we might see them. Van Lierop says he won’t speak about that “until we are close enough to being done with it that I can say with 100% certainty, and give you a definitive date that I know isn’t going to end up with us pushing out an experience we aren’t 100% satisfied with.”

Hey, take your time – I’d rather wait for something great than settle for something rushed. We’re hardly experiencing a drought of good games.

Hinterland do plan to keep players better informed of development and resume sandbox mode updates, which had been placed on hold while they focused on story. For now, you can see their goals on the development roadmap. In a bit, they plan to launch an optional ‘experimental’ branch for players to try out features as Hinterland fiddle with them. And they’ve made this pleasant video to show some of their progress:

I mean, I’m broadly on board with anyone who proposes a nice bit of drowning. Here’s how Raphael van Lierop closes the post:

“Thanks for your continued support. Without it, we wouldn’t have made it this far. All we want is to make something that is great, something we can be proud of for the rest of our lives, and the only way we know how to do that is to go all out. We aren’t saving anything for the swim back to shore.

“We are going all the way. Come with us.

“With respect,


I’ll pack my swimming costume.


  1. TWChristine says:

    “Spring is now upon us, but Story Mode is not.”

    Well, to be fair Alice, you have to understand how we see Spring here in Canada! IE, it’s “technically” been Spring for what, half a month now, and the snow just stopped the other day.

    • teije says:

      Spring, what’s that? We just got snow on the weekend.

      On topic – this all sounds good. Reading the dev roadmap, lots of great things planned for sandbox mode too. I find it truly immersive and relaxing in a tense way – except when the damn wolves get me.

    • Holderist says:

      Hah! You must be from everywhere else in Canada, because here in BC we’ve had spring for a whole month at least.

  2. malkav11 says:

    I’m generally happy enough to wait for the best possible version of the experience, but it’s a bit galling that the thing I backed the game for, i.e. the story mode, is still nowhere to be seen, and meanwhile they continue to develop this sandbox mode that I don’t give two figs about. Granted, they say that the unexpected degree of success of that mode is what’s paying for the story mode to get more ambitious, so I guess there’s that to comfort me in my sadly non-frozen, non-apocalyptic nights.

    • Glitch Mob says:

      Bear in mind too that it’s probably better for them to test out mechanics and balance in a sandbox than a story mode. Had they just released an early access story mode, that probably wouldn’t be fun for anyone because it would be buggy, unbalanced, and unfinished. Once they get a solid base built in sandbox, it’ll make for a much better story mode.

      • malkav11 says:

        It’s not like I’m actually upset. I have literally thousands of other games to play and am perfectly happy to wait for a better story mode. I just don’t have any interest at all in sandbox survival sims, or playing anything before it’s actually done. And it’s not unprecedented for Kickstarters to decide that actually they’re going to focus on (insert version of the game that completely alienates some percentage of backers). I don’t think that’s happening here, based on the recent update, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for being worried.

    • Ericusson says:

      At the same time, Hinterlands gives a really nice sandbox experience even though I disagree on mandatory permanently and pleaded for an optional save possibility on game creation for those who wish it.

      Also, I actually like there is no story mode, which I am eagerly waiting for, in early access as it gives the opportunity to play the game without burning yourself on it (though I chose to stop precisely for playing the finished product upon release).

      Which I think is a drawback of EA and generates lots of forum bitterness about games in development (thinking about Starbound here for example), from players almost too eager to play new stuff all the time !

      • Ericusson says:

        “Mandatory permadeath” … Stoopid auto correction, stoopid fingers !

    • jonahcutter says:

      I’m a bit in the same boat. I love the aesthetic of the game and enjoy survival mechanics, but their sandbox version of it feels just too mechanical with knowing your exact calories and temperature and such. It becomes a whole lot of watching loading bars while searching drawers and numbers, which detract from the immersion greatly imo.

      That said, it’s popular and likely has brought them in a lot of money. Which can hopefully help build a better-developed, bigger game. So I’m happy waiting for story mode, even if it takes longer.

  3. MrNash says:

    Kind of disappointed to have to wait longer for story mode. The sandbox version is still fun, but the story is what I’m looking forward to. I just hope development doesn’t get bogged down by the team trying to bite off more than they can chew with new features.

  4. Safari Ken says:

    I’m cool with the delay, because it’s my favorite survival game. I forget sometimes that there’s even a story mode on the way. But then, I wasn’t one of the original backers.

    • caff says:

      Agreed this is the best attempt at the survival genre that I’ve seen. I’m sure it’s on the right track based on what I’ve seen in survival mode.

  5. Tetrode says:

    Good Gattaca reference in there Raph.

  6. Unsheep says:

    Another great in-dev game I’ve bought from GOG. Thank you to the developers for offering a genuine offline version of game.

    I’ve spent well over 30 hours in the Survival mode alone, without the Campaign mode, so this game has plenty of longevity. With each death you learn something new. A single session can last you many, many hours since the game has a progress-based save system and you can store the items you find inside the houses you discover. You can also adjust the difficulty in some smart ways.

    There’s a really good selection of grand survival games around, but this is the only one to my knowledge to be offered as a proper offline game.

  7. tigershuffle says:

    Really love this game. Played the free test on my sons Xbox1 and promptly bought it for my pc.

    Im thinking of a kickstarter for a Wolf Cookbook
    boiled, fried, sauteed, stewed, roasting, broiling………..yum