The Long Dark: Humans are no longer at the top of the food chain out here - Games Weekly

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Long Dark: Humans are no longer at the top of the food chain out here

Now I know why they call it The Long Dark. It’s the dead of night and I’m freezing to death in a cave. My fire burned out hours ago, and scavenging for wood in the forest outside will surely kill me. All I can do is cower in the corner where it’s slightly warmer and wait for morning, if it ever comes. It doesn’t feel like it will.

At the cave mouth I see a sheet of white. A blizzard is raging and the temperature plummeting. Occasionally I hear the howl of a wolf and pray one doesn’t come in for shelter. I drink a can of soda and eat a chocolate bar to keep my energy up, but I’m going to need some real food soon. I can feel my life slipping away with every passing hour.

But as the morning light creeps over the horizon, I’m still alive. Just. I limp out of my hole into the whiteness of the Canadian wilderness. The sun is bright and the air crisp, but it’s still deathly cold. I need to find shelter. I won’t last another night in that cave, and the only supplies I have are a bottle of water and a box of crackers.

As I trudge through the forest, deer skip around me. If I found a rifle I could eat one, but the only thing in my pack that even vaguely resembles a weapon is a tin opener. I can see wolves on the prowl, but I keep my distance and they don’t bother me. I watch one kill a deer and realise that humans are no longer at the top of the food chain out here.

After a long, seemingly endless walk through the snow and along a frozen river, I see a shape in the distance that looks encouragingly man-made. It’s a cabin. I burn my last few remaining calories sprinting towards it. It’s not much there’s little else besides a single bed and a log burner but it’s a vast improvement over my cave.

I rifle through the cupboards and drawers and end up with a decent haul of medical supplies, warm clothes and canned food. I knew that tin opener would come in handy. But as cosy as the inside of the cabin looks, it’s still freezing. If I go to sleep which is very tempting I won’t wake up again. My next priority is finding fuel to start a fire.

I eat a can of peaches for an energy boost and step back out into the cold. A light snow is falling now and the daylight is fading. I spend an hour searching for wood, and manage to find a few dry logs. I toss them in the burner and a warm glow fills the cabin. I have enough supplies to survive for a couple of days in here, but I’ll still have to venture outside regularly to gather wood. Fire is the closest thing I have to a friend out here.

I stoke the burner with the remaining wood and go to bed. The next morning I feel refreshed. I’m warm, I’m rested, I’m hydrated, and I’ve got food in my belly. I’m still stranded and alone in the middle of a brutal uncaring wilderness in the aftermath of an apocalyptic geomagnetic storm, of course, but hey, at least I’m alive. After a breakfast of beans and a candy bar I decide to go outside and gather wood in the morning sun.

It’s a beautiful, clear day. There’s no wind and the temperature is positively balmy compared to the previous morning. I forage for wood in a nearby forest and get a nice stack of cedar logs, which should get me through tonight. On my way back to the cabin I notice a deer carcass, half buried in snow. I walk over to it and cut off some meat.

Bad idea. Behind me I hear a snarl, then see a flash of razor sharp teeth. I try and fight it off, but the wolf is stronger than me, and I die in the struggle. It’s an unceremoniously harsh and sudden ending to my story, but that’s The Long Dark for you.

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