The Long Dark adds new wilderness to explore, manual cooking and haunted computers

The Long Dark

Frostbitten survival adventure The Long Dark is one of the best in the genre, so says our boy Adam. On top of offering its own uncompromising vision of humanity pushed to the brink (all without a single zombie, alien or robot), it now has a steadily evolving main story arc that’s being released one episode at a time. While today’s free Vigilant Flame update doesn’t contain much in the way of new plot, it does set the scene as well as introducing some major new gameplay mechanics.

The biggest new feature of the Vigilant Flame update is a whole new region to explore. Hushed River Valley is a beautifully scenic piece of wilderness without a single human-made structure to sully it (or seek shelter in), and it branches off of the Mountain Town map. It’s apparently the hardest area to survive in, but contains some nice rewards for dedicated explorers.

The other big new feature is manual cooking and melting of snow-ice, implemented in a pretty natural and intuitive way. Make a fire or heat a stove, put a pot (or an empty tin can) on the heat, and put your meal or drink of choice in the vessel. Wait until cooked, but don’t stop too soon or late or you’ll risk food poisoning or burning it to an inedible crisp.

Probably the most thematically interesting part of the Vigilant Flame update is Buffer Memories. At night, when the aurora glows bright, computers may flicker to life to reveal their last active images before everything went dark. These notes can be collected and kept in your journal. Right now this is mostly for spooky world-building purposes in Survival mode, although Hinterland reckon that they may be an interesting way to lead players to hidden locations and stashes in later updates.

On top of these three big new features, there’s a small mountain of tweaks, and bug-fixes made, including some quality of life improvements made to the radial quick-select menu. You can see the complete patch notes here.

The Long Dark is available via Steam and Humble for £23.79/$30, and is currently half price on GOG too. The Vigilant Flame update is out now.


  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Wait, it’s supposed to be episodic? I played this a while, got stuck in the story due to bad design (ran out of whetstone, tools broke, campaign over!) and messed around in survival, but I’d taken it as complete. Fun, really quite atmospheric, but ultimately limited.

    At this rate it seems like they’re set to release new episodes at the rate of Half Life.

    • Untruth says:

      I had to bail out when I got to the injure-bear-arbitrary-number-of-times-to-proceed level.

      IT’S REALLY amazing as a survival game, but the broken story progression both technically and mechanically was too much and I just quit the whole thing. Nothing makes me want to go back as my character who I loved (and all his many hoarded possessions) kind of died with me when I quit out, tragically stuck in an infinite loop of collect/kill/maim X entities.

      It’s so good though – everyone should play it – just expect the story to eventually drive you to madness.

  2. TechnicalBen says:

    Somehow… manual cooking is not what I was looking for in this game. :/

    Next up, racing simulator where you have to walk down the grid to the car. ;)

    I’ve nothing against it. But “press F for respect” replace with “more engaging press F *AND* then X” for more respect” is not more engaging in my book, it’s more busy work, not more gameplay… It’s adding extra buttons, not extra depth (a game does not give off smells so you know when it’s cooked, is there audio cues (gameplay)? Does it allow you to “like” BBQ over raw or “like” rare over BBQ/burnt(feel and atmosphere to the game)? No? Then it’s busy work, not gameplay and depth/atmosphere.)

    • Fleko81 says:

      I haven’t played this update yet but – if it works like it looks in the vid – this is something i really like the look of. The ability to put something on the stove and then DO something is appealing to me. I used to get frustrated that when i batch-boiled a couple of 5 litre waters, say, it ate up a couple of hours when i could also be doing other organizing / repairing etc so i’m feeling this will actually be a gameplay improvement

      • 111uminate says:

        It certainly is. The folks complaining about it just fail to grasp the actual depth it provides; multi-tasking. Being locked down in cooking and chewing away hours of time was one of the game’s limiting factors in daily survival in my opinion. This is a step in the direction of fixing that.

  3. Vilos Cohaagen says:

    I just didn’t enjoy the game. Maybe it is this game or maybe I’m burned out on survival games in general but I don’t find it fun, just a chore.

  4. Jernau Gurgeh says:

    I had short-lived fun with survival mode when in early Early Access, but decided to hold out for story-mode on proper release before getting into the game. And what a disappointment that was. A lot of trudging backwards and forwards for 15 hours or so and not really experiencing much in the way of anything. And that was just one episode? I sadly retired it, which is a shame as I liked the aesthetic and the general vibe. Oh, I got my money’s worth (I think I paid £8 in a sale when it was still in EA), but I saw no reason to trudge onwards with it. It just wasn’t very compelling and wasn’t much fun.

  5. Morcane says:

    The only survival game that actually grabbed me, but I do wish they would get moving quickly with the story content by now.

  6. Crusoe says:

    When playing The Long Dark, sandbox really is where it’s at.

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