Local actor Mark Meer recounts his work with Hinterland Studio’s survival game, The Long Dark
After minutes of pacing the Canadian tundra, the frigid air quickly numbs my fingers and the blood in my veins begins to stiffen. My balance is wobbly and I fall into an azure lake. Shivering, I am told that I have a risk of hypothermia. I need to find warmth. In the distance of the white expanse stands an old ice fishing hut. It’s early night and I hear a blood-curdling howl beyond the hut. Wolves.
I make it to the hut’s door and a wolf leaps at me, ripping at my arm. I manage to throw it off and reach for a knife in my backpack. Another wolf tears at me and I somehow manage to stab it in the jugular. The wolf whimpers and the other seems to have vanished. I have sustained multiple injuries, the biggest one being a bite wound that has a risk of infection. I’ll soon die if I don’t find antibiotics. Or maybe the frozen air will kill me first.
This was my experience playing the PS4 survival mode of Hinterland Studio’s The Long Dark, a first-person survival game that takes place in the frigid Canadian wilderness after an unknown global disaster.
“The game kind of shows the wonders and beauty of nature, but also the horrible crushing power of nature which can crush humans like bugs,” says local actor/voice actor Mark Meer, who voices the game’s male protagonist, Will MacKenzie. “Don’t expect the game to cawdle you like other games do. It’s a harsh game. You can die so many different ways like starving or freezing to death.”
The Long Dark originally began as an incredibly successful Kickstarter game with its Alpha version being released on Steam’s early access in 2014. Since then, Hinterland has developed a story mode called “Wintermute,” and released it on all platforms earlier this month.
“The story mode series will be released in chapters much like the Telltale type games,” says Meer who is best known for his work as the male commander Shepard in the popular Bioware series Mass Effect. “Chapters one and two of ‘Wintermute’ are already out and I’m loving the story progression of Will so far.”
The game has earned generally positive reviews, with a short film called “Elegy” starring Christopher Plummer.
Due to its first-person style, The Long Dark feels incredibly real. It switches from being tense, serene, terrifying, and frustrating,
Of course, this is largely due to Meer and Jennifer Hale’s stellar (who plays the female protagonist, Astrid) voice acting.
“I do live in Edmonton, so that comes in handy when I’m portraying someone that’s freezing to death,” laughs Meer. “I just use the power of pretend.”
Unlike many post-apocalypse games, The Long Dark’s world is untouched and shockingly beautiful. The artistic graphics are reminiscent of a cold Matisse painting.
“It’s a very realistic apocalypse,” Meer says. “It doesn’t feature zombies or mutants or anything like that. It’s you against nature and because of this non-fallout disaster, were left with a very beautiful world.”
Being an avid gamer, Meer is working on his play through of The Long Dark, calling it an “enjoyable solitary experience.”
The local superstar has got a busy month coming up with a handful of comic con appearances and the annual Soap-a-thon at the Varscona, which features a continuous 50-hour improv performance. Ironically enough, the theme of this year is post-apocalyptic dystopian future.
“I’m not gonna sleep much this coming month but I’ll try to work in some Long Dark references,” laughs Meer.