This dark story engrosses you in the ever burdensome choices of survival while striving to answer one question. Who?
Ammunition is scarce, causing you to question each shot, as if a pistol actually does something worth mentioning. Food is scarcer and means of cooking it before it goes bad, good luck. The almost pathetic way You are forced to hold on to every consumable in Your inventory takes an even further step at times then genre gems like Resident Evil 4 and the newness that was the first Dead Space. That is unless You take the drugs.
The drugs are abundant, so says a piece of paper You find. "And if You happen to run out, I'll leave more in the bathroom." Lone Survivor is a game that removes emphasis on actually surviving the event and places a deeper focus on Your mental state when You do survive. That all depends on You though. "Do I take a blue pill? Or might this green one have a positive effect. I'm just tired... so tired."
The pills you take are sleeping pills. Green and Blue Sleeping pills. These are okay to take for a time, but the true notion that getting up takes more effort than falling down will quickly be realized. Addiction is a detriment. While the pills are dangerous, they do have advantages. Waking after You go to sleep with a blue pill will get You ammo, if needed, while waking from a green pill gets You food. This only happens after answering a question from one of two men You will meet in Your drug induced dreams. But enough on that, I'll leave those decisions and discoveries to You.
The mechanics of Lone Survivor are quite simple but greatly compliment the tone of the game. To save You simply return home and go to sleep. To get home quicker and safer than walking back down the halls just look into one of the many scattered mirrors. These mirrors act as checkpoints, allowing You to travel between Your apartment and the last mirror You looked at. Look into one and You described what is seen. Wake up from sleep and You describe Your physical state. These little remarks are important as You may need to eat, drink or just take a break from the stress.
The game is split into three levels; the second floor, the first floor and basement, and the streets. It starts as though You are just living life. But what kind of life is a life secluded in apt. 206 on the second floor of the Mayview apartment complex. With hope of finding others outside, You decide to go there. Going there, however, possess a deathly challenge that You must overcome to keep Your sanity in check. Possibly.
As You traverse the halls You find that they are filled with more monsters than resources and when You do end up finding a new item or ammo clip You are rewarded such excitement. But that excitement is fleeing due to the persistence of the choices You are faced with and the consequences of those choices. But You will never get to a place where You can't carry on, there are always pills.
The unsettling tone of the game is bolted down by the sounds and songs that creep through the halls with you. The halls and streets resound with a churning gargle of bodily mess while the air presses with notes and scratches that deeply chill. When you aren't sneaking along, you may be in a dream which rings with a wonderful acoustic tack. This song would be a joy to listen to if it were not so eerily misplaced. Waking and returning to the grinding sounds of Your very real nightmare just makes the eerie feeling that much newer.
The graphic style that Lone Survivor sports is probably one of the most striking things about the game though. Taking into account all the feelings and thoughts Lone Survivor invokes and realizing that the entire experience is presented with sprites, pixelated art and a gritty filter that looks like an old film reel makes you wonder what it is AAA devs aren't quite getting with shiny new engines.
I must point out a huge accomplishment. With the exception of a few testers and I think three animations this entire game was created by one person. If Jasper Byrne can deliver an experience like this basically on his own it makes you wonder why the greater industry isn't doing better. Other than a deeper desire for money there should be nothing keeping AAA games from producing works just as good.
There is a lot to be had in Lone Survivor and clocking in at just over 4 hours, multiple playthroughs should be considered. The ending of this game great. Absolutely worth your while. I'll say nothing more on it though. I urge anyone to play Lone Survivor, it will not disappoint. It's a game that is smart and believable. Gripping and sad. An expertly crafted thriller is Jasper Byrne's Lone Survivor.