Chop Wood, Carry Water

The Long Dark

The wind is picking up and the snow is coming down harder. Visibility has reduced; I can only see a few hundred feet in front of me. My hypothermia risk has increased, my energy has dipped, and I’m getting thirsty and hungry. I hear wolves howling in the distance. I realize that I must get back to my cabin before the blizzard hits, or I will die.

I am playing The Long Dark, a survival video game with the tagline “Welcome to the quiet apocalypse.” Set in the northern Canadian wilderness on the fictional Great Bear Island, players have to navigate a frozen world without electricity in the aftermath of a geomagnetic disaster. Players can travel from region to region to find loot, but eventually, all supplies will be depleted, and you will have to survive on your wits and skills. In the game’s survival mode, you are the only person on the fifty-square-kilometer island. You can choose one of four difficulty levels—pilgrim, voyager, stalker, or interloper—or choose a custom mode and set dozens of parameters to make it as easy or as difficult as you want to survive in the frigid Canadian north.

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