Impressions: Lone Survivor

Purchased for me as a gift by @Raisins, I got started on Lone Survivor last week.  I’ve got to say, I’m really impressed with just how well Jasper Byrne captures the spirit of the survival horror genre using so little.  Right from the beginning I was reminded just how much I missed survival horror as it was presented during the PSOne’s time.  I’m certainly not the first to draw the comparison between Silent Hill and Lone Survivor, and most likely not the first to wonder how an independently developed game can be more like Silent Hill than Silent Hill is anymore.  It’s not a difficult formula, (not to detract from Byrne’s work) just add equal parts creepy sound design and “what’s going on here?” and you’ve got a recipe for soiled pants (or is that just me?)

I’m extremely happy to know that there are people out there like Byrne who have the creative range to take pixel art and avoid the aesthetic cliches of pixel art design.  Fewer pixels doesn’t mean what’s being depicted needs to be cute or simple.  It doesn’t have to be Mario.  Fewer pixels mean fewer opportunities to express an idea, but Lone Survivor nails all of them.  It succeeds in ways that games like Aliens: Infestation failed.  A large part of the reason that Lone Survivor is so creepy is because of how its combat elements are balanced on the edge of a razor.  You have the option to avoid battle, though sometimes it is the better option if for no other reason than because your flashlight will run out of juice before you have the chance to sneak by.  Where as in Infestation, combat is the only option and you are given infinite ammo for that end.  Since you can’t hardly avoid enemy attacks in that game, the only option ever is to unload clips and take blows.  Tension in survival horror comes constantly having to make difficult decisions and balancing options.  This is doubly essential in a 2D pixel art game in order to create an atmosphere where you fear for a sprite’s safety.

If you’ve ever been a fan of the earlier Silent Hill games, then you owe it to yourself to go give Jasper Byrne all your money and play Lone Survivor.

Have you seen a little girl?

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