The start of Wintermute serves as a tutorial. The protagonist, back from a plane crash, awakens between snow and wreckage and must go in search of his flight companion, who knows where. Before doing so, however, must be able to get back on track, because he is hurt and hungry and the journey that awaits him requires that he is in full force.
The first campaign missions are therefore all focused on his recovery and the most trivial survival. Those who played the sandbox mode of The Long Dark will have no problems, since it involves performing some of the most basic actions, such as lighting a fire to warm up, melting snow to get water, wrapping a wound and so on.
Who will approach the game for the first time will be lost, as the tutorial, made up of hidden text messages, does not explain very well the fundamental mechanics, which are not really simple, also due to the numerous menus mentioned the interface is formed. During the whole phase, which takes place on a narrow cliff, we also witness the first filmed sequence: a
flashback on events immediately preceding the plane crash, which introduces us to history. Solved the immediate problems and understood that what is happening to the protagonist is the fault of a favor done to an important person from his past, we reach the carcass of the plane and we witness another filmed sequence that deepens the relationship between the two.
From now on our goal becomes clear: we must follow the woman’s traces to find out what happened to them. These first minutes of play taught us something about The Long Dark: it has particularly deep survival mechanics and, above all, it is hard in an almost ruthless way.
We do not remember such a difficult tutorial in our memory. As already said we are given very few explanations about what we have to do, but in return the resources that are around are few (more than in sandbox mode, however) and, in case they are wasted, you can not do anything but start again by reloading the last save. It almost seems as if it is taken for granted that the player knows what he has to do.
The impression is strengthened by the continuation of the adventure, in which we find ourselves struggling with other great difficulties, without being given any help. For example, by encountering the first enemy, a wolf (we’ll talk about it later),
we explain its behavior, but we are not given any tools to deal with it. We have little use to understand how to overcome it, but the underlying feeling remains that we lack basic concepts to get away from it. Impression that turned into frustration when we
found ourselves with an automatic rescue done in the middle of the night, in a place we did not know, teeming with fearful wolves, without the possibility of loading a previous position, which forced us to start again the whole first episode.At the second attempt, however, we were able to really
appreciate the many nuances of the game system , which provides a complete and accurate management of the character, threatened by hunger, thirst, disease and, above all, from the cold. However, if you are interested in the survival part, it is better to go straight to sandbox mode, because the story mode unlocks the different mechanics gradually and at the beginning is really limiting.
The wolves deserve a few lines apart, because they are the biggest threat and the biggest annoyance encountered in The Long Dark. Not even hypothermia is so annoying. They are really everywhere and they are very ferocious. Why they are crazy is told inside the game, but that does not make them less dangerous. Let’s say that when one meets one, the best choice is to try to avoid it, even if it is not always possible to do it.Fighting unarmed against a
wolf means certain death. In case you manage to get away with it, it is almost certain that you get out of the fray and have to wrap up some wounds in order not to bleed to death. Coping with two wolves in a row is suicide. Since wolves are practically everywhere, without logic, you will understand when The Long Dark can become punitive from the first hours of play.