Before 2018 was 2017. And in 2017, one of my favorite games was The Long Dark. At its core is an excellent exploration-survival sim, open world, polished and clean, beautifully drawn up, with an environment that is frozen as all get out. I never carved out the time to try its Wintermute single-player storyline episodes, however; an oversight that I've lamented for all of 2018, the year that came after 2017. But Wintermute Episode I & II Redux is going to force my hand.
Developer Hinterland Studio dropped its chin to its chest as players grew disinterested in, or began to actively dislike, the single-player episodes. Again, I personally never made it back into The Long Dark's Canadian wilderness to check those out, but it's something I'm going to make time for now. Wintermute has a planned five-episode season, which is part and parcel to buying the game (you don't have to fork over extra for the storyline). Of the five, Episodes I and II are already out. But taking player feedback into consideration, Wintermute Redux makes some changes—midstream—to how the series operates.
The story of bush pilot Will Mackenzie and Dr. Astrid Greenwood, in the aftermath of their plane crash in the Northern Canadian wilderness, is purportedly improved. According to a letter from Creative Director Raphael van Lierop, "It's fully rewritten, fully voice-acted, and re-animated, with an all-new narrative presentation style, new plot points and dialogues, new moments and missions, and more flexible and forgiving mission structure, and—we feel—a layer of polish that didn't exist in our first launch." Full update notes are in the Hinterland forums here.
See Van Lierop's full letter after the jump. I've been having a fantastic Winter 2018, but I'm convinced I now need to make some more time for one of my favorite games from Winter 2017.
The Long Dark is out on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. The single-player Wintermute episodes are, essentially, free DLC to purchasers as the episodes are released.
[The following is a letter from The Long Dark's founder and creative director, Raphael van Lierop.]
The Long Dark has been painstakingly built not as one monolithic experience launched once and forgotten, but an iterative marathon of a thousand little steps forward over the past (nearly) 5 years of open development. This iterative philosophy and pursuit of quality is core to the Hinterland DNA.
Last year, when we launched the first two episodes of WINTERMUTE, our story mode, we were unhappy with aspects of the experience that didn't seem to resonate with our players. But, once you've launched a narrative-driven single-player experience, that's it, right?
THERE IS NO SECOND CHANCE TO CAPTURE THAT FIRST IMPRESSION. OR IS THERE?
Today, we've released WINTERMUTE "Redux" -- our re-launch of the first two episodes of the story mode for The Long Dark. Redux is a completely overhauled experience, representing over a year of team effort to improve the game -- fully rewritten, fully voice-acted and re-animated, with an all-new narrative presentation style, new plot points and dialogues, new moments and missions, a more flexible and forgiving mission structure, and -- we feel -- a layer of polish that didn't exist in our first launch. We feel that these Redux versions of Episodes One and Two bring us much closer to our goal of creating not only a great "sandbox" survival experience, but also creating a compelling narrative one. We feel that Redux shows the path forward for the story mode of The Long Dark.
IF YOU PLAYED AND REVIEWED THE FIRST TWO EPISODES of WINTERMUTE when they were first launched in 2017, we hope you'll take the time to revisit the story of bush pilot Will Mackenzie and Dr. Astrid Greenwood in the aftermath of their crash in the Northern Canadian wilderness. We feel it is much improved, and is worth of your re-consideration.
IF YOU DIDN'T PLAY OR REVIEW WINTERMUTE when it first launched, we hope you'll consider taking a look now, keeping in mind that even with Redux, The Long Dark is still a work in progress. We continue to update and refine the game's core survival sandbox foundation, and we'll continue to work on the remaining three episodes of WINTERMUTE, which will be released (for free) for all our current players as those episodes are completed.
IF YOU'D PREFER TO WAIT UNTIL WINTERMUTE IS FINISHED before reviewing The Long Dark, please feel free to consider The Long Dark as being, essentially, two games -- with Survival Mode being a mature survival platform seeing ongoing free updates but in many ways a finished product -- and each of the episodes a form of "free DLC".
Thanks for reading, and we hope you enjoy your time in the Quiet Apocalypse. And whether you play or not, on behalf of everyone at Hinterland, I wish you a happy holiday season and wish you all the best for a brilliant 2019.
Founder & Creative Director