Team17’s game The Escapists was popular enough that it got a sequel and a zombie spin-off but the team wasn’t out of ideas after those. They have returned with The Survivalists, a game set in the same universe that has you washing up on a deserted island and trying to find anything you can to survive. While it isn’t perfect this is one deserted island that you should consider visiting.
The first thing I’ll mention is that you can play this game alone or with up to four players online. I played by myself for most of the time but I did dabble a bit testing the online. It seemed to run well and you have some options available to you that let you decide what other players can do in the game. Now at the start of the game when you just wash up on the island you naturally don’t have much to work with so you’ll have to wander about and collect some simple materials to get started. Once you collect enough of these you can get started building somewhere to sleep and building some tools that will be needed to keep yourself alive. You’re also able to have some slight choice over how your character looks with the ability to change their hair, clothes, skin, along with a couple other things. It’s not much but it was enough to help set me apart from anyone else I might play the game with.
The island isn’t friendly as there are various creatures about like tigers, sharks, boars and more that will try to kill you. You can fight back using your attack button or evade their attacks using a dodge roll. Defeating animals is necessary to collect meat that you can cook to feed yourself. Various plants you find can also be eaten and there are different food recipes that you’ll discover allowing you to make different things from what you collect. As you collect stuff it will go in your inventory that is displayed at the bottom of the screen. Space is at premium and you’ll quickly find that you can’t carry a whole lot on you forcing you to make some choice. You can either drop things to free up space or store them in a chest which actually can be used to exploit the system to your advantage in a way.
That way involves the other big feature of this game and that’s the monkeys. Yes, this island is home to many, many monkeys all of which you can befriend and train to do your bidding. All they ask for in return is for you to provide them with bananas. I know, real original right? Monkeys can be trained to craft things for you while you do something else. Monkeys can be trained to follow you and fight your battles for you. Monkeys can be trained to follow you around carrying the chest of your stored goods somewhat fixing the limited inventory space problem. Yes, monkeys have all sorts of usefulness in this game and it felt good being their leader and having them do my bidding. I mean what other game lets you have multiple monkeys follow you around each carrying a chest to store anything you can find? I’ll wait on your answer.
I did have some issues with the game so let’s talk a bit about those. The first one is that the camera makes it hard to see things sometimes. I ran into an issue several times where something was blocking the view of my character whether it be a wall or a tree and this almost got me killed more than once. My other issue is in how some of the crafting mechanics work. When you want to craft multiple of something you can’t. You have to do it one at a time which gets to be a drag and felt like the game was just wasting my time. This is a huge annoyance to me in the latest Animal Crossing game and I wasn’t happy to see it here either.
For the most part though I really enjoyed my time playing this game. There is even more to it that I didn’t touch on like the ruins that you can explore to find valuable treasure, the different islands you can sail to on a buildable raft, the forts you can build and lay traps in for when anything comes to attack your camp, and more. I really liked how laid back the game could be as I worked on building my camp alongside my monkey friends.
The Survivalists has that same pixel art style that The Escapists had but I think it looks even better here. Rather than being stuck in prisons you get to see colorful, beautiful pixel art trees, ocean water, swaying grass and more. The game also has a nice soundtrack that is always changing to fit whatever might be going on in the particular moment. Sound effects are also nicely varied ensuring that whatever you might be hitting it just sounds right.
Team17 has become one of my favorite publishers because they always seem to deliver quality games and The Survivalists is no exception. It’s a great little survival game that you can enjoy with friends online or alone with your army of monkeys as I did.
*The Survivalists is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Gameplay loop of scavenging, crafting, and fighting is satisfying
- You can have an army of monkeys do your bidding
- Great pixel art style and sound design
- Playable solo or online with friends
- Did I mention the monkeys?
- Some frustrating crafting mechanics
- Camera can obscure your view leading to problems