Recently, a friend of mine told me he’s spent more than 100 hours documenting his adventures in Skyrim. Every encounter with deadly skeletons, drunken jarls and menacing dragons, written down in painstakingly clear detail inside a physical notepad.  At that moment I had the sudden urge to see if i can do the same inside a game, without pausing time. Then I remembered that you can do so in The Long Dark.

The following notes describe one dreadfully fun surviving session I had in the game’s latest map – Forlorn Muskeg. All entries were written in game time using nothing but the built-in journal. As you’ll surely see, I’m also quite bad at the game.

The Long Dark

And so it begins.

Day 1

I’m somewhere in the woods. There’s also a lake nearby.

So, the initial bit of panic immediately set in when I realized I’ve spawned with only 3 hours’ worth of daylight left. After stumbling around, seeing my coldness meter reduce to 50% in the matter of seconds and realizing I’m wasting valuable time, I began collecting branches for a potential fire. As I saw a gigantic lake immediately in front of me, I also made sure to stick to the shore and not step on the water’s icy surface. (You realize that’s a bad idea once you stay on top of thin ice for too long, breaking the surface and bathing in ice-cold hell.)

Chilly death aside, I made sure to keep stopping by every mushroom of magical powers I could find. If I remember correctly from the last time I played, you can brew tea with those. I also managed to snatch a bunch of cat tail plant closer to the shore. It’s a nasty looking plant that is also supposedly edible, on top of usable for starting fires. It still looks horrid, though.

After a few minutes of boring walking, stick seeking and nearly freezing to death, I finally found a decent place to stay throughout the night! In fact, that’s where I’m writing from right now. Apparently it’s an old homestead owned by some “Old Spence”. In reality, it’s more of a wreckage situated next to some burned down bunkhouses. The good news is that it has a bed and a furnace, along with lots of wooden boxes and drawers full with handy stuff like hammers, a hunting knife, lots of coal, some wood and warm clothes. And some other stuff I forget.

Right now though, I really need to sleep. It looks like I’ve been writing this for about 4 in-game hours… Oh my.

P.S. I just boiled some water and ate a can of peaches. Doing so reminded me that I also found a can opener, so I reckoned I should write that down as well. Being all alone in the cold wilderness does things to you, eh.

The Long Dark

The so called “homestead”, in all of it’s glory.

Day 2

About 6 hours of daylight left. I think I found Old Spence.

Usually I don’t go running around and chasing crows, but a few seemed to be circling near the hut I’m miserably living in. Turned out the source was a dead body with a hacksaw next to it. Considering this place looks like it’s been abandoned for a while, I can only hope the corpse ended up here a long time ago… It looked quite frozen, if that’s anything to go by.

I would happily continue to look for stuff outside, with the weather being so nice and warm, sitting at 0 degrees. However, the game tells me I’m exhausted, hungry and thirsty. So, I guess it’s time for a quick snack consisting of purified water, stale beef jerky and nasty cat tail plants, followed by a chilly afternoon nap next to the furnace’s dying fire.

Oh, I also found another deer and carved its stomach out earlier today. More on that after I get some sleep, though.

The Long Dark View

Early mornings, served with equal portions of freezing chill and breathtaking views.

It’s night time now and I managed to waste two wooden matches. One for lighting a one-hour fire and then getting carried away outside, and another one to keep me warm while I get carried away once again, this time dismantling all the boxes I found in my small safety haven.

(For those of you unaware, you can’t light fires in The Long Dark without matches, and they end up being quite scarce in some maps. So far, I haven’t found an alternative ignition method either.)

The surrounding area is still very much unknown to me. The wreckage I’m staying at is next to a huge lake, which seems to have small snowy islands scattered around weak ice. Apart from that, the area’s very open and barren. The fog is very thick, so I can’t see much in the distance.

While away, I found some suitcase and a backpack next to a boat and a hut stranded in the middle of the lake. There was also some place with a lot of barrels closely, which had a ton of coal! Come to think of it, that’s a lot of stuff to find in just 2 days.

The Long Dark Deer

I wonder what killed it…

Oh, and about that deer. It was yet another case of chasing crows. Now I have deer hide, guts and meat, most of which I need to dry somewhere. Apparently you can craft a bow with the guts, plus some other handy things I might never live long enough to see.

So, tomorrow’s grueling mishaps will be dedicated to finding a cave where I can leave some deer organs to dry. According to my highly expert knowledge (wiki), this takes a few days.

Lastly, your daily looting report:

  • A bunch of coal
  • Old socks
  • 5 cans of dog food hidden inside one of those damned boxes
  • An ominous hacksaw found next to old man Spence
  • Old man Spence, currently dead
  • A handful of cat tail plants
  • Some moss growing on trees that’s supposed to have healing properties
  • Scrap metal
  • Reclaimed wood from some nearby burned huts
  • More mushrooms

Day 3

“I dreamt next to wolves.”

I found another dead deer close to the homestead! Unfortunately, it was surrounded by a pack of wolves. There were roughly 5, if I remember right.

If surviving in the wilderness has taught me anything (I’ve never had to actually survive in the wilderness), it’s that you should never try to out-sneak a wolf. Long story short, I ended up being chased by one for about 10 minutes, hopping from one mass of land to another while trying to avoid weak ice like the plague. It must’ve been quite the hilarious sight, as I was also trying to dodge the other wolves’ lines of sight as best as possible. In the end, I had to light up my only flare just so the beast wouldn’t lunge at me and rip my face in half.

Bear in mind all of this is happening about 5 minutes away from my base of operations.

The Long Dark Wolves

Good boy…

The wolf stopped chasing me eventually, but also left me in quite the peculiar spot. At one side was the pack, while in the opposite direction lied a chasm of weak ice. I could see the shore in close proximity, meaning I should’ve been able to sprint across just fine. However, sprinting was disabled due to my character being in the “exhausted” state…

So, the only thing I could do was to start a campfire, set-up my portable bed literally 15 metres away from the wolves and sleep for 2 hours in order to regain some dreadful stamina.

Eventually I got back to the homestead. Here’s what I found during the day:

  • A lot of cat tail plants (most of which are now in my stomach)
  • More suspicious medicinal tree moss
  • Shrooms
  • Green sapling, which apparently also needs to be cured

… Speaking of which, wasn’t I supposed to be looking for a cave? How the hell did I end up in the lake?

The Long Dark Cabin

Day 4

Today, I could barely step 5 feet outside.

No, it wasn’t because of the horrid weather. The weather was quite good today, actually. It was the wolves, in particular a pair that seems to be drawn to where I’ve set camp.

It must be that corpse, I bet.

For about an hour (in-game time, folks), I played cat and mouse with one of the two. Needless to say, any warmth was out of the question, so when I finally managed to sneak past one of the wolf I had already become near numb.

Walking up the hills instead of towards the lake, I’d only picked up a few branches until another wolf appeared. Rushing back to the homestead, I decided to go in the opposite direction, past the burned down bunkbeds and onto my spawning area. Find a cave, George. That’s all that matters.

That’s what I kept telling myself, until another wolf stumbled onto me.

So, I’m afraid the exciting news end here. Today was nothing short of a disaster.

The Long Dark Cooking

The most exciting part of the day was cooking moldy venison.

Day 5

Wow, I’m alive, How, I can’t tell you.

So, I found a cave just 5 minutes away from the homestead. Somehow I’d managed to miss it two days ago, even though it’s only a few steps up the hills. I was ecstatic to find it not only because I could dry the deer guts and hide (isn’t that delightful), but also because I found some sort of “firestarter” device and three cans of soda.

But being the dumbass I am, on my way back I decided to chop down some big cedar branches so I could have some firewood for the night. All was well, until I accidentally started using a hacksaw instead of an axe.

It took me some ridiculously long time, like an hour. As a result, I almost fainted.

The Long Dark Dizzy

Being at 10% condition (there’s a meter that shows how screwed you are at the bottom of the screen), I barely crawled my way back to the homestead, spamming my mouse on the furnace so I could secure some heat from a fire through the night.

Barely, I made it. Now I need to wait 6 more days for the deer intestines to be dried up good. Then… I might have a bow.

Oh, and I also found a bear near the cave. I almost crapped my pants when I saw it. Other findings of the day include:

  • A “Survive the outdoors!” book
  • More goddamn sticks

Tomorrow, I think I’ll hunt for more cat tail plants. The hope is to live off of those for the next few days without dying from extreme bowel movements.

Day 6

The Long Dark Train

Lonely George reporting from a creaky old freight train stranded in the middle of the lake. Heating my hands next to an improvised fire barrel, I feel like a fugitive you’d see in a cheesy movie. However, I have good news… I found a rifle!

Had to pretty much snatch it from the cold, dead hands of another stranger I found. Nevertheless, it’ll come in handy with all those wolves patrolling around my precious homestead.

What I’m worried about is that I found the rifle-holding corpse just in an area where I’d previously spotted a bear. I also spotted a dead deer (yet another one) close by, so it seems like this abandoned freight train revealed itself just in time.

I managed to quickly salvage some good stuff from here, too, most notably a bunch of reclaimed wood, more warm clothes and coal. (You can now stack up clothes on The Long Dark, as part of the latest big patch.) Now, the goal is to sleep for an hour or two, muster up some strength and skin that deer for more guts.

I’ve turned into a madman, haven’t I.

I’m awake. There’s a bear just outside of where I am. I think I might have to test my new toy.

The Long Dark Bear

The End

This is where my notes ended. In the end, in a very non-heroic and brutally realistic way, I met my demise in the face of a bear. Turns out you need a rifle-cleaning kit in order to use the weapon. So, without knowing that I aimed at a bear point-blank range, realized the rifle was jammed and got viciously attacked.

If there’s anything I learned from this, it’s that writing inside a game while pressured by time can give you a genuine rush of adrenaline. Every night, I had to juggle between taking notes and getting a decent amount of sleep. I also remembered more by writing things down, even if I didn’t necessarily realize that at the time.

I think this perfectly showcases why The Long Dark is one of the most immersive survival games out there. The game didn’t pause every time I opened my journal, nor did it rush through the day with an extremely fast-paced day-night cycle. You might notice that some days’ notes were longer than others – those were simply moments when I was tired, cold or in a state combining both. I couldn’t take my time, and I’m very glad that was the case.

The Long Dark Bear Closeup

And that’s all she wrote.

About the Author

Georgi Trenev

Georgi was only a wee child when he discovered the wonders of blowing up bad guys in Unreal Tournament. Since then, he’s grown into a game maker, a connoisseur of weird indie offerings and a madman writing about said things on the internet. As it turns out, he’s also pretty good at making homemade pizza.

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