Have You Played… Lone Survivor?

A demake is like a remake but with a retro vibe rather than a desire to update and refurbish. Lone Survivor [official site], Jasper Byrne’s modern classic, initially seems like it’s going to be little more than a Silent Hill demake of sorts. Then it becomes one of the few truly Lynchian games, and then it becomes something else entirely.

Whatever else it might be, Lone Survivor is a true survival horror game. Resources are limited, death can come swiftly, and despite the seemingly lo-fi (but actually beautifully accomplished) graphics, every scene is thick with detail.

I couldn’t have realised, when I first played it, that it’d take more than five years for Byrne to release his next game. And yet here I am, still waiting. I shouldn’t be surprised; Byrne is a musician and he’s continued to exercise his creativity in that field, and his output has included contributions to game soundtracks, most notably Hotline Miami and its sequel.

One day, I hope to see another game from Byrne though. Lone Survivor has so much in common with other things that I love, but it’s not quite like any of them and it has a very special place in my memory.

9 Comments

  1. Daymare says:

    I have, pretty much at the height of my horror gaming days, when tons of free indie horror games à la Slender would pour out.

    I didn’t get very far. If I’d to pinpoint why, I’d say pixel sprites, no VO and highly detached POV didn’t do enough to creep me out or keep my interest. I didn’t enjoy navigating the world, it felt both linear (you move in 2D) and confusing (swap doors onto another 2D plane). I know there’s other games who have this exact type of level building, even Mario, but it was somehow more irritating here than anywhere else.

    Not to say it’s a bad game, it does a lot with a tiny fraction of other games’ budget. Just no fit for my horror tastes.

  2. DrJ3RK says:

    I would agree on the level layouts. In something like Mario when you leave one area for another, there’s a logical layout, and distance to it (most of the time) and it makes sense where you come back out.

    In this game, the hallways are largely the same as each other with an occasional room or exit that mixes things up. It does get confusing, and in a way that’s a bit less fun as it detracts from the rest of the game a bit.

    That said, I thought the atmosphere was great, and for a 2D game, I wouldn’t hold pixels, sprites, hand-drawn graphics against it. They’re good for the style they are in. If you’re not into this style, then I understand, but I’m of the opinion that visuals should be evaluated based on the style that they are in. One shouldn’t just say “it’s ugly because it’s pixel art”. Now if it’s ugly for pixel art, that’s another thing. I think the aesthetic suits the game though overall. Just needed more variety I think.

    I played this for, I don’t know maybe 2 hours or so, but didn’t finish it, largely because of backtracking so much to figure out where I was. It just got a bit tedious. Maybe I missed something that would have helped, or maybe I was distracted at the time. I still think it’s a pretty cool game though, just needed a bit more thought into some of the mechanics, and a touch more variety.

    I liked it though.

    Now I want to play it again, and finish it. :)

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    Drib says:

    I did! I played it briefly. But I’m a big, whiny baby and I just get too spooked to keep on with it.

    But it did look quite good.

  4. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    Yep, loved it, although I never reached the end. I got stuck somewhere in the basement, maybe I’ll try and finish it as a Halloween treat.

    Seriously cool game though, I remember it fondly, the atmosphere created with such retro graphics is amazing. That jazz party scene sticks long in the memory.

  5. Vilos Cohaagen says:

    I found the text too difficult to read on my monitor. It was illegible when in full screen and too tiny a window when windowed. I wanted to play but gave up. Love the music though.

  6. cpt_freakout says:

    I really liked this game, though I never finished it. It’s one of those games that remain in the back of my mind, in the sense that every now and then I remember them and want to re-play and possibly finish them. Someday, I guess.

  7. floogles says:

    Woah, it seems like no-one commenting has finished the game? I thought it was brilliant and compelling, but with a pretty slow start.

    But damn, it really did get Lynchian at some point and my brain was pretty melty at the end.

    Highly recommended for horror / atmosphere / surrealist fans.

  8. SuperCaffeineDude says:

    Played it whilst I was at university after watching Total-Biscuit do a first-impression video, loved it… to an extent.

    By which I mean that despite having a strong aesthetic, ambiance, soundtrack and start (SPOILERS) …

    The last boss fight is meh, and I didn’t quite get the ending(s) and the way they tied moral system I wasn’t aware existed at the time, I had to YouTube the different endings, I felt like my character hadn’t done anything to blacklist him from the “good ending”.

    For it’s time though, before the bloat of steam indie-titles, it was really something special, I’d recommend it for a spare-weekend. And I do hope the dev works on a new title, maybe in a similar vein.

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