By Sackmanjones 4 Comments
It's been awhile since I've been able to sit down and throw my thoughts of a game on Giant Bomb. Between school and work, its been a hell of a year but the time is now for the return of my famous (not really) blog! I should warn you that if you have not completed Lone Survivor and expect to play it there will definitely be spoilers. If you have played it or don't mind spoilers I hope you enjoy!
I recently picked up on sale Lone Survivor and proceeded to finish the game in a mere 3 nights. It has been quite a while since I have felt truly impacted by a game; it seamlessly blends tension and horror with bits of humor due to the clever dialogue and characters. I've played plenty of survival horror games but none have truly captured the feeling of being alone as much as Lone Survivor. Not only do you feel completely removed from any sort of society, you can feel the sanity of "You", the nameless main character, slipping away every minute you spend in that apartment hell hole. There are some very apparent things that make you question the psyche of "You", mainly the pills you can take just before you go to sleep. A green pill sends "You" to a man with a box on his head, apropriotely named "Man who wears a box on his head". A blue pill sends you to a nameless man in a room that closely resembles a therapy office. You also constantly see a black haired woman, usually in distress. It doesn't take a genius to know there is a bond between "You" and this girl only known as "Her". This obviously tips you off that something isn't right but it's the little things that really set off that alarm in your head, ringing and saying "Hey, do you realize what just happened? You had no more batteries a second ago but there you are, putting more into your flashlight." I just went to bed starving only to wake up and have food in my inventory. This door was locked but now it's open; and the most brilliant part of this is you don't question it as much as you should due to the harsh atmosphere. The fuck if I care the door is suddenly unlocked, there could be food in there, a can opener so I can actually consume all these supplies just sitting in my inventory, a gas tank to heat up food and make it more appetizing.
The strength of the setting plays throughout the whole game and is only made stronger by the vagueness of it all. What is this infection? How long has it been since the initial outbreak? Is the whole world gone or just this town? You simply don't know and just have to deal with the results of it all. The apartment building you are seemingly trapped within is disturbing to say the least; as you go to the lower levels the walls and rooms become more organic and disgusting. In one room you must cut a hole in the wall that is made out of skin with something clearly moving behind it. It took me a few minutes to gather enough courage to go through with it. The creatures have the same effect, they raise much more questions than answers. It seems to be implied that at least the thinmen are a result of this infection but there are a few large creatures that are most definitely not of human origin.
Many settings are truly disturbing and terrifyingI think the thing that stuck with me the most though was the writing. It was clever and humorous and went perfectly with the tone of the entire game. "You" is trying to stay sane. He is trying to have a clear mind and stay focused of that task on hand which is to escape the quarantined apartment building. The excitement from him when he drinks a rare soda he finds is intoxicating or when he finds a canned fruit salad and mentions hes been saving that for last because it's his favorite thing, like a child would with his dessert. You constantly run into a man simply known as "The Director", is he real? Is he an imagination of "You"? It's up for you to decide, but what's certain is he is helpful. At one point he gives "You" a Gamejoy (which looks shockingly similar to a gameboy of course). This brought me to one of my favorite parts of the game. When you get the gamejoy you can go back to your room, sit on the couch, and play. That's it, you watch "You" grasps onto any possible joy he can. Using up his batteries to play and hold onto his humanity as long as he can. Its both wonderful and heart-wrenching to watch at the same time. Similar feelings pop up when you run into a cat that you can feed, the simple need for some kind of contact with a real creature bursts through the game and as the player, you feel that and want to get that contact.
The sound design and music seal the deal for the feeling of the game. It is simply phenomenal across the board, from the ear cringing noises the creatures make, to the music that lets you know you are back home. It's both beautiful and disturbing, calming and unsettling all at once.
So we have reached the end of the game. To my knowledge there are three endings, I received the blue ending. However, I think the initial part of the ending is the same, "You" enters a hospital which he claims he has never been too, of course to his surprise he finds a clipboard with his name (which it does not show) and a room assigned to him. When "you" enters this room there is simply a blue pill and a bed and brings everything to a satisfying end. Now to be clear, it seems like these endings can have their own interpretations so you may not agree with my interpretation of the blue ending and that's fine.
After you take the blue pill, you are in a dream state and run into this mystery man you always run into after taking these pills. "You" being on the edge and enraged after the death of the director demands for this mystery mans name. When he refuses, "You" shoots him in the chest with a clear intention of killing him. But, as the player, we know its not that simple and the mystery man taunts "You" and we see the bullet hole disappear as well as the mask "you" has been wearing the entire game revealing a brief glimpse of his face that matches the mystery mans exactly. We then see a quick glimpse of a previous dream with "her" only instead of a green hill and being young, they are both old and the hill is dirt and overlooking a ruined city. The ending is very vague but in the best way possible and lets you decide exactly what happened. Did any of this happen or was it all in the main characters head?
For me personally this is how I saw it. From small clues hidden around the environment from drawings on the wall and small notes you find, I believe the city "you" lived in was attacked or bombed. In this bombing, his wife or girlfriend ("Her") was killed and he simply couldn't live without her and he felt alone. He was then hospitalized and created this horror world in which he is alone, because this is how he felt without his significant other. Every time you take the blue pill, "you" is taking prescribed medication to help him realize reality and is actively trying to deny it. At the end of the game, "you" is on the cusp of both his fantasy world and reality and then kills himself (not necessarily by gunshot as it does disappear on the mystery mans chest). He is then reunited with "her" and they go back to their old spot, before all this happened.
I could see how the ending could be seen in many different ways and I think that is totally viable and cool that "Lone Survivor" leaves so much up to the player to piece together. At the end of the game, you also receive that stats screen and in a way it makes you feel just as crazy as the character. Why did I constantly check the radio? I drank sour milk 3 separate times hoping it would help my hunger when instead it hurt me every single time. It was truly a fantastic ending that simply sticks with you days after you beat it, and this goes for the whole game. This is one of the best horror experiences I have had in a long time and I wish I would have played it earlier.
Well thank you guys for reading through this and I hope it wasn't filled with grammar mistakes due to the time I am writing this. Thanks again for reading
EDIT: I forgot to add the great run-ins with the man only known as "White faced man" When you first meet him he has nothing to say to you except for, "We will have something to talk about the 3rd time we meet". This 3rd meeting never comes. I couldn't tell you what it means but I was waiting for that 3rd encounter to happen and it never did, another element of the game playing with your mind. I just wanted to add this and see if anyone had any ideas on what the means.