The TL;DR Games 12 Days of Game Awards for 2017 are well underway. We’ve handed out a few pats on the back to some of our favorite titles from the last year, and we’ll continue to do that here with our Indie Game of the Year award.
Indie Game of the Year Nominees
There was some stiff competition for our Indie Game of the Year award for 2017. Any one of the titles on the list could have won and nobody would bat a puzzled eye. That speaks to the quality and scope of the game the TL;DR staff chose, though, The Long Dark.
Indie Game of the Year – The Long Dark
If you know anything about TL;DR Games, you know we play a lot of The Long Dark. That undoubtedly factored into it winning, but that doesn’t take away from how good the game is. In fact, on December 7, after the voting for Indie Game of the Year had concluded, The Long Dark released one of its most sought-after quality of life updates ever, Rugged Sentinel. The game that won our Indie Game of the Year award got better even after it won. It’s also tied with Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus as the highest rated game we’ve ever reviewed.
What makes The Long Dark shine, though? Well, for the most part it’s a game that requires the player to be self-motivated. The main mode is its survival mode, and there are no given objectives. You go where you wish when you wish, and your only goal is to stay alive. At the same time, the only ending you can ever achieve is death, it’s just a question of how long that will take. At a time when most games flood your HUD with way points and data, The Long Dark is almost pure in its minimalist approach.
What first drew me to The Long Dark was the art style. It has an almost pastel feel to it, and the spectrum of colors created by the day and night cycle can be breathtaking. It’s not uncommon to stop and take in the view when, really, you should be finding shelter so you don’t freeze to death.
The level design is top-notch, with the survival mode of the game now featuring 50 square kilometers of environments across more then 10 regions and transition zones. Mystery Lake is the default zone if there is one, designed to give new players a balance, with Forlorn Muskeg and Timberwolf Mountain being comparable to what would pass as end game regions.
All this beauty and unique level design is fantastic, but many games accomplish that. What keeps me coming back is the attention to detail in the mechanics, all of which are very intuitive and simulate real survival quite well. If you’re tired, you’ll physically weaken and need to rest. If you eat spoiled food, you’ll get sick and need to remedy it. If you get cut, you’ll bleed and need to clean and bandage the wound. When you’re cold you must find shelter and create fire. And, it’s all balanced exceptionally well so that it feels right, even when it’s not easy.
What sets The Long Dark permanently above our other incredible nominees is that I can’t get enough of it. I love being in the world that Hinterland Studios created. I love how my play style reminds me of an old man looking outside in the morning and deciding the weather looks suspicious, so the day will be spent reading and crafting. I love knowing that death is following me everywhere, waiting for me to slip up and give it just one opportunity to pounce. For those reasons, and many others that would take too long to explain, The Long Dark is the TL;DR Games Indie Game of the Year award for 2017. Look for it in your platform’s store and give it a try at your first opportunity.