Lone Survivor – A Masterpiece of Sound Design and Musical Unease – Review – #AtmosphericApril

Lone Survivor is a game by Jasper Byrne. Jasper is a musician and this is his only game that he has every made. He has worked on other games, but only on their soundtracks. Knowing that this is his only game saddens me, but the game truly helped me realise the power a soundtrack can have on a player. But before I get to the best part of the game, I need to talk about everything else.

Visuals

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This is one of the only modern horror 2-D games I’ve ever seen, and my god are the visuals unsettling. Somehow Jasper had made pixel graphics scary and disgusting. Now it’s not just the pixel graphics… it’s also the colour palette. From the dark reds of the apartment block and basement, to the dull lonely greys of the city and the soft yet dark blues of your apartment. The colours used are enough to make you feel a certain way, and with the added way lighting is used, it makes for one of the most visually engaging horror games I’ve ever seen. Even though it’s pixel graphics, which some people simply don’t like.

Gameplay

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I’ve seen common complaints about the gameplay being slow, boring and clunky. Now I will agree that it is quite slow, but for me it didn’t need to be fast. When combat becomes fast-paced in a horror game, that really takes me out of the game. So the slow-paced and more cautious gameplay helped add legitimate tension to the game’s atmosphere. The Survivor isn’t a military veteran so he’s slow movement and gun handling made sense. This added a whole lot of tension in the later half of the game, when it was very easy to be overwhelmed.

One thing that I truly loved about the gameplay was how the way you treated your character affected the ending, as you can destine yourself to get a bad ending before you even reach the first floor of your apartment block. Choices actually mattered and I didn’t realise that until I finished the game.

Music + Sound Design

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Both myself and game agree that you should hear an excellent pair of headphones when you play, as it greatly enhances the auditory experience. This game easily has the best soundtrack to a game that I’ve ever heard, now many people will disagree with me, but I have my reason. Each song in the soundtrack seems to invoke some emotional response, which I cannot say about a lot of scores/soundtracks from both films and video games.

Jasper’s knowledge of music is on full display and it’s something of pure horror magic that I’ve never experience before. After not playing for a two years and coming back to it recently, the music brought up memories of when I first played the game and reminded me of what I did wrong, nearly bringing me to tears.

But it’s not just the music. The eerie sound design is something of true genius as it adds so much to the atmosphere, making you feel hopeless and truly alone. Plus that final creature’s screech sent shivers down my spine the first time I ever heard it. And when you kill everything in a room, you are just left with sounds of the building and it makes you feel truly uneasy.

Conclusion

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Lone Survivor is a true horror masterpiece in my mind. It’s a game that I’ll always hold dear. It gave me a true experience that other horror games fail at, and it reminded me of old school Silent Hill, but to me this game is better in almost every way. This game isn’t for everyone, but I say give it a chance. This is easily one of my favourite games of all time, and one of the only games I’d call a masterpiece.

Happy 5th Anniversary, Jasper.

10/10

Check out the game here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/209830/

Listen to the soundtrack here: https://spacerecordings.bandcamp.com/album/lone-survivor-original-soundtrack

Follow me on Twitter: @JED_Author

Support is Optional: https://www.patreon.com/jedwalker

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