Lone Survivor Review

There really aren’t enough good horror games out there.

That, of course, is because horror is hard to do well. For a few years, Resident Evil cornered the market by throwing horrific monsters through windows at players, but the survival horror genre of the mid-1990s was very much rooted in popcorn-tossing moments. Silent Hill broadened the scope some, making room for horror that was a bit more cerebral and a bit more psychological, but the series has struggled for quite some time to really recapture the essence of its early iterations.

But it’s possible to do solid horror, and Lone Survivor finds a great way of adding vitality to a genre that only intermittently gets new titles that are worth the time it takes to play through them. There are a lot of things about it that seem unlikely — its low-res graphics and side-scrolling nature chief among them — but it’s things like these that allow Lone Survivor to defy expectation and create a creepy, atmospheric, dread-inducing experience.

Lone Survivor (2012): PC (reviewed)
Developer: Jasper Byrne
Publisher: Superflat Games
Released: March 27, 2012
MSRP: $9.99

Lone Survivor drops players into a world utterly devastated by disease. You play the titular survivor, known only as “You,” who has been subsisting in an apartment for an unknown amount of time. Outside the apartment, blind monsters roam the halls, attracted to light and sound, attacking at the slightest provocation. In order to survive, you need to flee the building and find your way to other people.

Where things get dodgy are in some really great, classic survival horror tropes. You find a gun, but the ammo is limited. You can sneak past enemies, but your range of movement is limited. You’re not quite 100 percent sure anything you’re experiencing is real, a fact continually reinforced by the various people you meet (or don’t meet). And through it all permeates a phenomenal atmosphere of dread and discomfort.

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