Open world survival game The Long Dark entered Steam's Early Access initiative in 2014. It first teased its much-anticipated Story Mode in late 2015, and set a provisional due date of spring 2016. That slipped, forcing Hinterland Studio to post a lengthy community update in December explaining it didn't want to rush something that wouldn't meet both it and players' expectations.
The developer has now launched a mysterious countdown which, at the time of writing, stands at 22 days, five hours and 30 minutes. Besides the game's logo and iconic axe moniker there's nothing else to go on beyond that, except the option to sign up for further updates.
The folks over at The Long Dark's corner of Reddit are convinced this is it, and, against the delays and Hinterland's previous updates, I struggle to imagine they're wrong. As part of the December update, Hinterland quoted Shigeru Miyamoto's philosophy on delayed games saying "a delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad."
Here's an excerpt from that update, posted by Raphael van Lierop:
"2016 has been a challenging year for me, and for Hinterland. We opened the year with the plan of launching Story Mode this past Spring, but I just didn’t feel good about where things were at, given the compromises I felt we were making to do that. I wanted to push further, do more, with the game, knowing that after all this time of you waiting for Story Mode, it would have to be something truly groundbreaking to really live up to your expectations. And to live up to our expectations.
"It’s been a constant balancing act between keeping our Sandbox players engaged and happy with updates, and also having the majority of the team working away on Story mode. Since it’s difficult to share Story progress without spoiling it, people sometimes feel as though we’re not working on it, which is frustrating for them, and for us. We deal with this by trying to stay focused on our launch and remember Miyamoto’s adage: “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.” We appreciate all of you who continue to support us patiently."
When The Long Dark's Story Mode finally arrives, it promises new regions which will serve to flesh out the background of the game's end-of-days scenario, and will let players see how the Aurora affects the world. New hazards are planned too, which we'll (hopefully) have the chance to see in detail come May 4.