Developed: Team17 Published By: Sold Out Software Categories: Survival Release Date: 10.9.20
The Survivalists starts out pretty decent. After an understandably long loading screen setting everything together, you wake up on a tropical island. The game explains the mechanics rather decently, there’s a tutorial for everything. The game then just lets you do your own thing.
Being that The Survivalists is as the name implies, a survival game, you’ll be surrounded by the familiar. You’ll need to find food, you’ll need to find materials. You’ll use the materials to make tools, use the tools to collect materials. Use those tools and materials to make appliances. The more you make, the more they let you make, eventually allowing for ways to sleep (which saves the game), cook, craft bigger items, and it keeps going. I like that you don’t really necessarily need to hunt down recipes, but you’ll learn them by crafting or cooking. You’ll probably find that some recipes require materials you don’t have, which is the biggest push in my opinion to actually walk around the island and explore. Very early on, you’ll find a monkey asking for food, make the food he wants and he’ll join you. Monkeys in The Survivalists are your helpers, they’ll hold items for you, craft and cook for you, fight with you. I however had issues really getting Monkeys to cooperate majority of the time, and even when giving them weapons, could not get them to fight. The biggest issue I had came later on in the game when in a crypt like area, it had a weight switch, which I went on to open a door, I go through the door, but the monkeys didn’t for some reason. The door closes, and since the monkeys cannot see me, I can’t get them to follow orders, like opening the door back up. I could build a bridge to get to another switch, but needed materials to do so, and my monkeys had them. This was essentially a soft lock, and since I hadn’t saved in around an hour, I lost a decent hunk of progress.
Progress is subjective though, as I spent majority of my time in the game on one beach, just crafting, cooking, crafting, cooking, crafting, on and on. I eventually ran out of things I could make, so I decided to get on a raft I made to move around the beaches and even find a new island. I felt at no time the game actively pushes you to do anything though. Why do anything if you can only cook and save at places you’ve crafted the proper thing to do so and if you don’t have enough monkeys, potentially leave all of your materials not on hand behind. Would this be comfort in staying in one place or fear of losing your objects. You can find some messages in bottles, usually treasure maps, but the rewards almost never felt satisfying.
When I could get it to work, the online multiplayer did make an otherwise monotonous game really fun. Replace the poor AI of the monkeys with an actual person, maybe a decent group, and the game starts to really come together. Perhaps it’s the old “co-op makes any game better” paradigm, but I felt more motivation to go on random adventures with people. The trap I got myself in mentioned earlier wouldn’t happen with real players either.
The environments look great, and you can chop down and destroy quite a bit of it, but otherwise, the graphics are unimpressive. The music is equally a unimpressive, with most of it just feeling like white noise to me. None of it bad, none of it good.
The Survivalists feels like a very mediocre game in a genre the Switch has quite a bit of, but the inclusion of cooperative play with friends makes up for it. That is to say if you can get the online to work properly though.
Buy Now: $24.99 Digital – $29.99 Physical
*Game Download Code supplied for review purposes