‘Stranded Deep’ narrative review, part two: today is the day I die

If you thought survival games were boring, think again. Wiehahn navigates the treacherous island world of Stranded Deep with the finesse of Daniel Defoe. This is the final article in a two-part series.

Read more: ‘Stranded Deep’ narrative review, part one: scavenge, discover, survive

A few days ago I was sitting comfortably at home, hypnotized by the television that was filling my mind with exploding cars and the latest celebrity scandals. It was not much of a life but I was safe and well-fed.

Now I’m stranded on some god-forsaken island somewhere deep in the vast lonely expanse of the Pacific. I’ve barely moved since I set foot on this tiny island, taking five minutes to cross its modest expanse.

I managed to gather a few coconuts after climbing a palm tree, which in turn, led to a three meter fall, cushioned only by my face and knocking the air out of my lungs. It beat the little spirit I had run out of heart.

All I could do now was sit in the blistering sun staring into the distance, thinking about the millions ways I could die out here. I should have never got on that damn plane.

An icy breeze strokes my skin and rips me from my stupor. It’s rapidly growing darker. For the first time I notice the sun setting over the calm ocean, painting the sky in hues of orange and gold. For a fleeting moment the beauty of the scene makes me forget where I am. But it’s brief. This beauty will soon give way to darkness. I will need to make a fire if I am to survive this night.

Stranded Deep 2 review 004

I try to force myself not to give in and immediately start searching for wood. There are no sticks to be found anywhere and I know that I need to chop down a palm tree with nothing but a tiny pocket knife. Without thinking I walk straight to that bastard tree that almost killed my will to live, and hack away.

I relentlessly stab at the tree with each thrust filling my bones with vengeful satisfaction. This soon gives way to pain though, and I feel my arms growing more and more useless. But I can’t stop now. It would certainly mean death.

I must survive.

Finally, my green nemesis falls to the ground with a satisfying thud. The full moon is already hanging high in the sky now. The only thing keeping me from freezing to death was the thing that nearly killed me. Surprisingly, my pocket knife held-up through it all too but it probably won’t make another round. Pretty soon I’m going to need to find an alternative. But that’s tomorrow’s worry.

I pack the sticks in a neat pile and set it alight with my Zippo. Thank god, I have you buddy. It has become what Wilson the coconut became to Tom Hanks in Cast Away, the only rock for my sanity.

My survival watch is beeping like crazy. My hunger’s at a dangerous level. Well, thanks I guess. It’s not like the burning pit in my stomach was any indication. But the worrying part is remedying my waning vitals, which are dropping at an alarming rate. I’m too tired to worry about it now. At least I still have a few coconuts I can eat.

Stranded Deep 2 review 003

For now, all I want is sleep. I lay down my exhausted body next to the burning fire. Its comforting heat wraps around me and I instantly slip into a deep slumber.

The next morning the sun is just as, if not even more, boiling that the day before. I’m well again. The coconuts for breakfast soothed my hunger pains and the few sparing sips of my clean drinking water was wonderful comfort. I tried cooking a crab on the fire that was still burning this morning. But balancing it on the burning sticks was too frustrating to bear. I tossed it back in the ocean, to its delight, I imagine.

Chopping up the coconuts finally broke my pocket knife too. Fortunately, I managed to craft myself an axe like contraption out of wood, rock and some lashings from a Yucca plant. The island was quickly running out of resources. I would need to brave the waters again and find myself a proper place to build a home until… well, until I’m either saved or die.

Armed with a crude axe, my friendly Zippo, a nearly depleted bottle of fresh water and a few sticks, I leap into the life raft and start paddling out to sea. Like clockwork the dwellers of the deep once again gently circle beneath me, almost as if their intentions were harmless. I ignore them, knowing that as long as this raft stays afloat, they won’t worry me.

The familiar ache takes hold of my arms again as I paddle my way towards the nearest island. For quite some time it seems like the island never gets closer and I wonder if I’m not the victim of some kind of mirage. Nevertheless, I keep going. It’s not like there is anything else to do here.

Stranded Deep 2 review 001

About ten minutes and a few billion strokes later I hit the shore of my new island. My shark friends are still swimming close-by too as if I would run into the ocean right now to feed myself to them.

I stood for a few moments catching my breath. I was amazed at how fit I got in only a few days. Scouting around the island a sense I’ve long forgotten filled me — excitement. My new world was a goldmine of resources — palm trees, coconuts, potato plants and yucca trees scattered near and far.

But this excitement was nothing compared to when I first laid eyes on a ship wreck just of the opposite coast of the island. According to the survival shows I’ve seen, shipwrecks aren’t only a good place to search for useful equipment but it also is an indication that people have past here before. I should check it out the first chance I get. But before anything else happens it is time to build my shelter.

Fuelled by the new found hope coursing through my veins, I gather all I will need to build myself a sustainable place to live. To build a shelter I would need about 28 sticks and 10 Palm fronds. Armed with my crude axe, I gather them quickly and within a few hours I have built myself both a shelter and a fire. The sun had not yet set and I decide to use the last light of the day to explore the shipwreck. I assemble a spear with what I have left, just in case a shark decides to visit me again.

I arrive at the shipwreck in just a few steps but just as I expected — the sea devil is already waiting for me. At first he doesn’t seem to be too bothered, even nonchalantly swimming right by past me. But as if he can read my mind, as soon as I dive to make my way to the sunken ship, he starts blasting towards me with tremendous speed.

Stranded Deep 2 review 002

I drive the spear right into his face and he immediately backs off, disappearing into the dark depths of the ocean. But in my struggle to distance myself further away from him, I end up swimming right into a sea urchin. Its pin sharp needles pierce deep into my skin and I can feel its poison flooding into my blood stream. The poison instantly takes effect. My vision grows blurry.

My lungs grow heavy and I have no choice but to retreat back to the safe confines of my island. But with each helpless stroke I take it becomes clear that I’m not going to make it.

Today is the day I die. It’s bizarre how easily I accept my fate. Even though my body is still instinctively thrashing to survive, my mind is calm.

Strangely enough I’m not missing the comfortable life I once had, but rather the new one I had built for myself among this lifeless string of islands. In these last moments of my life I find a peace I have never felt before and I somehow know that all that has happened has taken place exactly like it should have.

My only regret is that I never got to stay in that damn shelter I’ve been building all day.

Wiehahn Diederichs


Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.