The story of The Long Dark stretches back to 2013 when the project was first pitched on Kickstarter. Since then the title has enjoyed considerable success on Steam’s Early Access program. Or, more accurately, part of the project has enjoyed success. When The Long Dark launched on Steam Early Access in 2014, only the game’s sandbox mode was available.
Players have been waiting since the campaign for the promised story mode. The first part of The Long Dark story mode, Wintermute releases on August 1st. In the meantime, developer Hinterland Studios is tasked with rekindling player’s enthusiasm for the title. Unfortunately, they’ve met with some resistance from their supporters.
See, over the past several years, The Long Dark has gained an immense following specifically as a sandbox survival experience. Hinterland’s Kickstarter backers have complained in the past about feeling as though the company ditched them in favor of the early access community. This disconnect between the two communities has only grown over the years. Particularly as the team continued to add more features and updates to sandbox mode while revealing little about the story.
It’s A Mystery To Everyone
Hinterland claims they wanted to avoid spoilers, but some backers still felt burned. On their blog, Hinterland explained, “Our handling of Story Mode development has been entirely based on wanting to preserve the mystery for our players, and trying to show that at launch, they are essentially getting a whole new experience.”
August 1st will mark the official launch of The Long Dark version 1.0. Hinterland will also be releasing the first two episodes of their five episode story mode. Titled, Wintermute, the story mode will formally introduce players to protagonists, Will Mackenzie and Dr. Astrid Greenwood.
The Final Countdown
Prior to the announcement, the team published a countdown timer on The Long Dark website. The studio experienced backlash when the timer expired and they announced a release date for fans to continue waiting on. Hinterland has since apologized for the confusion on Steam, saying “Some people felt that it was insulting to be given a “timer for a timer”. I can see this and I’m sorry that it created frustration for some of you. This was certainly not our intention.”
In a way, it’s understandable that Hinterland wanted to tease players rather than just announce the release date. Many fans likely bought and played the game years ago before moving on to something else. Not only does the studio need to lure back lapsed fans, they still have to advertise to new players. As Hinterland stated, “Most Early Access games don’t get to have a second launch, and we’re doing everything we can to overcome this.”
Here’s hoping The Long Dark story mode finally bridges the gap between the divided playerbase. It might help if they don’t have to wait as long for the final three episodes as they did for the first two.