The Long Dark: Crashed
I hadn’t played The Long Dark since January, where I played it for a few hours. I really liked it but got distracted by other things. I saw that it had gotten quite a few updates over that time and a big one over the summer, so I decided to try it out again. Here’s the story of my playthrough. Note: I’m playing in Pilgrim mode (predators are non-hostile) because 1) I want to explore more than anything, 2) I like wolves and don’t want to hurt them (duh), and 3) I really don’t want to kill something that looks and sounds a lot like my beloved dog. 🙁
I’ve crashed. It’s freezing cold outside and here I am with the shattered remains of my plane. It’s useless. Nothing will turn on, even the radio. I’d blame the crash but the truth is, it died while up in the air, everything going black in an instant. There was no chance to radio in a mayday, no opportunity to try and coax a failing engine to last just long enough for me to land. The plane might as well have been stone with the way it fell out of the sky. It’s a miracle that I got out with nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises.
There’s nothing to help me in there. My cargo of milk jugs and baby formula have broken apart and been strewn across the snow in a giant, frozen, milky painting. My first aid kit only has gauze and painkillers, which I take even though they’re pointless right now. My set of “emergency” clothes and granola bars were slowly pilfered for non-emergency reasons over the months and I had more important things to do than replace them. All I have left is an empty backpack. I’m such an idiot.
I know I have to move. If I had been able to radio for help, I might have been able to wait around my plane. But I don’t know if anyone knows I’ve crashed yet. They’ll realize in a day or two but the cold will kill me before then. I have to find shelter at least. So into my backpack goes the medical supplies and two empty milk jugs that didn’t explode, their caps just flew off.
Everything looks the same. So I pick a direction and hope for the best. I thank my luck stars when only a few minutes of searching turns up a log cabin. Even if there’s no one in it, it’ll provide me shelter and maybe some supplies.
My heart sinks into my stomach when I realize that the snow has long since caved in the roof.
It’s a temporary break from the wind though, and I manage to dig up a piece of firewood forgotten next to the wood stove. It goes in the backpack next to my scant medical supplies. Not much but it’s something.
With no other buildings in sight, I continue on past the collapsed cabin, grabbing a few dry sticks here and there as I find them on top of the snow. If my luck is as poor as it has been, I won’t find a cabin with a full stack of dry firewood near it. So I’ll need everything I can get. I’m not going to be unprepared this time.
I spot a mule deer off in the distance, aware of me stomping around in the snow and keeping its distance. If nothing else, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only living creature around.
A dead end. There’s no way I can climb over those rocks, not unless I want to risk cracking my own skull open. Miserably cold, I’m forced to turn around and find another way.
Hearing the sounds of crows in the distance, I move towards their raucous cries. Just as I’m wondering what they’re so excited about, I crest a hill and spot what might be some sort of hunting stand. It’s no cabin but it looks more maintained than the last structure I saw, meaning there might be people close by.
I stumble down the hill in excitement, sometimes falling in patches of deep snow, but I reach the steps in good time–
I freeze breathlessly when I see him just on the other side of the stand. I instinctively know he’s dead right away, there’s too much snow on his body and his skin is too white…but I still reach out to touch his wrist, searching for a pulse, and jerk back when he’s as cold and stiff as the ice he rests on.
The stand only has a newspaper and some bandages, and I mechanically put them into my backpack. My mind keeps circling around the thought that as soon as I get to a town, I need to tell them where his body is so he can be buried properly. The ground is too frozen for me to even attempt it and I don’t have any tools anyways. I try not to think about how that could be me soon if I don’t find some place warm.
There’s a frozen stream leading away from the pond. With nothing else to guide me, I decide to follow it.
The climb isn’t easy but I try to use the height to my advantage. Maybe I can spot something promising. At first, it’s nothing but wilderness.
But then there. That kind of looks like…stacks of fallen logs. Someone must have arranged them like that.
Someone cut down these trees but they don’t appear to be around. How long has it been since they were here? And how long will it be before they’re back?
Something colourful catches my eye. A sign for a foresty lookout.
It’s a sight that’s so full of hope and promise…
And death. Another frozen corpse, this time lying right in front of the sign. So close to salvation and yet so far. I’m about to turn away when I see something black and puffy sticking out of his open backpack. I steal myself to slowly pull it out, trying hard not to disturb his body. It’s a down ski jacket. Why wasn’t he wearing it? He might have lived if he had had it on. Did he succumb to severe hypothermia and, in his confusion, start stripping off his clothes? What happened to his arm? The jacket shows no sign of tearing. Did he know the other man down by the pond?
I have no answers to these questions. The only answer I do find is whether the thought of stealing from a corpse and wearing its clothes is revolting enough to me. The answer is no. I’m already shivering badly and I have no overcoat. So I put the jacket on. It’s cold but it’ll soon capture my body heat. It doesn’t feel right but it’s no good if I die too. I stand over his body for a while before I noticed the wind has picked up. I need to keep moving. Up the hill I go. It’s not an easy climb.
It starts snowing halfway up. The wind is getting stronger. There’s a storm coming and I need to get inside now. Then I reach the top and see the most beautiful thing I’ve seen all day.
The storm hits in full force just as I’ve finished climbing the stairs and get to the door. Insides is the equivalent of a treasure trove. A first aid kit with bandages and painkillers. Matches, a sewing kit, a hunting knife, a hatchet, and a can opener. Beds. A working wood stove.
I find a can of tomato soup on the table and a candy bar stashed away in a box. I’ve never seen anything more delicious. I’ll have to remember to repay whoever owns this place three times over.
And skies above, there IS a radio here. I immediately try to switch it on…nothing. It’s either broken or has no power, and there’s no batteries lying around.
I try to make the best of things anyways. I manage to start a fire in the stove on the second try and heat up the soup. It tastes like heaven. I collect some clean snow and boil it too so I’ll have something to drink. Any extra goes into one of the milk jugs, which is now half full of water. Fed and no longer thirsty, I stand in front of the stove for a while, just absorbing the warmth.
The blizzard rages on, rattling the windows loudly. I can barely see past the railing outside. To go out there would be suicide. Besides, I’m exhausted and night will fall in only a few hours. So still fully dressed, I curl up on the cool bed. For a while, the memories of those two dead men loop over and over again in my head. I’m wondering if that is my fate too and if anyone will ever find my body as I finally drift off to sleep.