The Long Dark

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
The Long Dark Game Poster Image
Very challenging survival simulation has moderate violence.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn the basics of how to survive in the frigid wilderness without such luxuries as furnaces, electricity, or readily available food and clothing. They'll learn about the elements necessary to start a fire and keep warm, ways of surviving alone and potentially unarmed in a land filled with predatory animals, and how to scavenge for food and tools and other essentials. They'll also need to manage their time effectively -- their cold and hunger will grow, and their energy will get drained. Players also will have to fit in enough hours for sleep and handle the hard work of survival. Players will fail frequently, but each failure is a learning experience. The Long Dark specifically states that it's not intended to act as survival training, but players still will learn a lot about what's required to live in a cold and mostly empty world without any modern conveniences.  

Positive Messages

Wilderness survival is hard but satisfying work that requires experience, training, and ingenuity.  

Positive Role Models & Representations

The protagonist -- male or female, according to user preference -- tries to survive using common sense and resourcefulness to find food, shelter, and protection against wild animals. 

Ease of Play

Extremely difficult. The sandbox mode always ends in death; it's simply a matter of how long you can hold out.     


You can die from cold, hunger, and exhaustion. Wolf attacks -- they snarl and snap at the camera -- can be lethal. Players can protect themselves from animals with weapons, including a rifle and a hatchet. 


Infrequent language includes "hell."  

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Long Dark is a downloadable survival simulation game. It tasks players to scavenge a frozen postapocalyptic wasteland for the basic necessities of life, including warm clothing, shelter, fire, food, and means of protection. The protagonist (who can be either male or female, according to player preference) can and will die in a variety of ways, including exposure, hunger, exhaustion, and animal attacks -- which can be pretty intense when experienced from a first-person perspective. The gameplay acts as a cautionary tale about how much humanity has come to rely on modern luxuries such as electricity, communications, and readily available consumables and how easily those without survival training might perish in the true wild. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTheCrowbarViking January 31, 2021

Partial Scam Warning // would not let my son play this when he turns 13.

display of blood and gore, dead frozen bodies you must plunder when you get close to them.
Definitely not for kids!

13+ is .. questionable as you will kill ra... Continue reading
Adult Written byBored to tears December 19, 2019

Glitchs, lack luster, super boring not realistic game play it feels like your crawling on the ground, drags on forever like watching paint dry

don't waste your time, super boring, game drags on and on.
not realistic, glitches that cause you to die after a long game play
crafting tools and clothes... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bycb1502723 February 5, 2015

A Solo Survival Game


Graphics: 8.5/10
Game mechanics: 8/10
Music/sfx/voice acting: 10/10
Overall: 9.5/10

(This Rev... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bySloth Ham May 15, 2020

What's it about?

How long could you live in the frozen wilderness without electricity or any hope of rescue? That's the question in THE LONG DARK, a survival simulation game set in the freezing wilds of northern Canada. A geomagnetic event has left the world without power. You take on the role of a bush pilot whose plane has crashed in rough country, trying to live as long as you can. And it's not easy. You'll start the game dumped into a snowy world with little more than the clothes on your back. You're cold and getting colder. Hungry and growing hungrier. Tired and quickly becoming exhausted. Ravenous wolves lurk in the trees and roam icy lakes. Any of these issues can prove fatal if not quickly and properly dealt with. So you become a scavenger, searching for cabins and huts that could contain matches and accelerant, beef jerky and energy bars, winter parkas and hats, perhaps even a rifle to fend off the salivating canines. Through experimentation you learn how to make fires and create clean water. If you're lucky, you may make it through the night or even a few days. But eventually your character will sprain an ankle, run out of supplies, or get trapped by wolves without a weapon -- and die. There's no happy ending, no return to civilization. It's simply a test to see how long you can survive. Currently, The Long Dark is in an "early access" phase where players can purchase and play in the sandbox mode, even though it's not yet finished. A story mode that expands upon the calamity that destroyed civilization and features additional characters will be available once the game is complete.

Is it any good?

The Long Dark isn't the sort of game for players looking for a tidy, guaranteed resolution. It wants to give you an idea of what it feels like to be cold and alone and left to fend for yourself. You can't literally feel the cold, of course, but you can see it in the puffs of icy breath released each time your protagonist exhales and hear it in the wind whistling through frozen trees. The loneliness is absolute. All you find in your exploration of the game's open world are the remnants of humanity, relics left from a recently passed age of luxury and comfort. It's dark and a bit depressing and likely will end with your character's death within minutes the first few times you play.

It's also a fascinating experiment. With virtually no instructions, you'll need to figure out how to do things. How will you get warm? Do you know how to start a fire? How will you get into the can of peaches you just found? What's your best defense against starving wild animals? There are some occasionally frustrating contrivances -- your health and warmth decrease rapidly in real time, and tools that should have longevity tend to break much too quickly with use -- but it's otherwise an effective simulation of what life would be like if you were forced to suddenly fend for yourself in a chilly, lonely forest. It's not the sort of experience most players will soon forget.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in games. Is the impact of killing animals reduced because it's necessary to survive in The Long Dark?

  • Have you considered what it would be like to live in a time or place in which your survival depended on your ability to harvest what you need -- food, shelter, clothing -- from your environment? How do you think you would do?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love simulations

Themes & Topics

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