LONE SURVIVOR / Superflat / PC
 
 
Lone Survivor is from the creator of popular demake Soundless Mountain, and lets you know right up front and with no bullshitting around that this is intended to be Silent Hill in 2D; at least, as legally close to Silent Hill as one can get without any permissions from Konami.

You play as some unnamed dude who is living in an apartment complex in the wake of some sort of mutant apocalypse. Outside the safe confines of his apartment, mutants - who function as zombies with terrible eyesight - roam freely. Our dude is simply surviving from day to day, so we'll help him do that by finding food and water, as well as make contact with any other survivors. But of course this is a Silent Hill-inspired game, so there's shifting realities, hallucinations and symbolism ahoy, and an overall quest in which we find out the protagonist and everything around him might not be what it seems.

Lone Survivor gets atmosphere and interface just right, and the only real complaint with the gameplay is lack of native gamepad support. At first you have no weapons, so your only recourse to get past the plethora of hallway mutants is to hide in recesses such as doorways and wait for them to walk by. You can also find rotten meat here and there, which acts as a lure for the nearest mutant when dropped and keeps them occupied for a while unless you move right next to them. The map system is a touch confusing at first since you're working entirely in 2D, but the automapping is very detailed, and you'll get adjusted to it fast simply due to the relatively small size of the entire game world (it's only 4 hours or so to complete the game) making it easy to just memorize where to go.

What isn't done so well is overall design/layout. Hiding from the mutants has an extremely "scripted" and contrived feel in the way they are placed, and though the game carps on continually about not killing things when you don't have to for the sake of your own sanity, the hallways are often laid out in a way that you effectively can't do anything *but* kill your way through. Most survival horror is done in 3D, or at least quasi-3D, and that affords ample playing field for one to find ways to wend or sneak their way past hostiles. In 2D that's a lot harder to accomplish, and I don't think the designer quite figured that aspect out here. There's also way too little food lying about at the beginning for an inexperienced player. I'm sure someone out there is already doing no-kill speed runs and PFFFFFTing at these notions, but as usual with most hardcore fans of games, they forget that your experience after playing the game 5000 times is vastly different from your experience playing it for the first time. I think the level design/layout stands a lot of room for improvement; it's just too frustrating when you don't have perfect foreknowledge.

Still, this game manages to do Silent Hill better than Konami has done it in years now, and it's probably worth checking out just for that alone. Fans of very-old-school conservation-based survival horror will almost certainly get a kick out of it, and even if the level design didn't exactly bowl me over, the peripheral activities you can do to build up your apartment (like finding and taking care of a pet kitty, and getting your stove functioning and a water supply so you can brew coffee) did go some distance to make up for it.
 
 
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