At long last, The Long Dark is hiking out of the early access forest into the glade of a general release.
The danger, when you’re a game developer, is to not actually release anything. It’s really easy to become a perpetual tweaker, or team of tweakers, for many and varied reasons (often somewhere between the strive for perfection and the fear of what comes next when the project is over).
Then came Steam Early Access and, more recently, the Xbox Preview service, which are noble ideas in principle. They allow players to pay developers to effectively become involved and invested in a long term testing process, bolstering development funds while allowing players to peak behind the curtain. The unfortunate corollary of this is that some games – mentioning no names here – seem to be stuck in Early Access forever.
The Long Dark release date – set for August 1, 2017, for Steam and Xbox One, and new to PS4 – marks the end of a long and productive stint in Early Access, transitioning from the great idea I first previewed a couple of years ago into the taught survival experience it has since become. And the culmination of all this, that all of the hours pored into player testing has been building towards, is the game’s story mode.
Season One of The Long Dark’s story mode, subtitled Wintermute, will follow the stories of Will McKenzie and Astrid Greenwood, and their tales of survival through the frozen wastes of an ice-ravaged North America.
Whether we’ll find out the source of the game’s global calamity is unclear, but we’d like to wager you’ll find out a fair amount about the human spirit and the need for survival when The Long Dark’s long-awaited story mode officially calls time on Early Access.