If that weren’t enough, your son is abducted by the cannibals, and so begins the journey of getting him back. With fantastic graphics and a compelling story, The Forest is equal parts survival game and slow-burn horror.
Having to survive hunger and thirst as well as the raging cannibals makes for a very good game. Unlike The Forest, The Long Dark is more straightforward survival.
Rather than a tribe of cannibals, your greatest enemies are the biting cold, starvation, and ravenous wolves. A global event has essentially destroyed all electronics, and the game wastes no time.
The game has a story mode as well, but where it really shines is in its sandbox approach. The first on our list to feature zombies, State of Decay 2 is a game that wastes no time.
There is a faint storyline, but the focus is put squarely on surviving an onslaught of walking dead. One neat feature of the game is that you play as one of four characters, each with their own abilities and stats.
There are some bugs to worry about, but overall, the State of Decay 2 is worth your time. He is soon reluctantly tasked with transporting a girl who appears to be immune to the zombie virus across the country, where her unique ability might be the key to saving humanity.
You need to avoid or sneak up on the zombies because if you go in guns blazing, you’ll get mobbed and eaten pretty quickly. It doesn’t help that ammo is hard to come by, so stealth and strategy are critical.
The gameplay is fantastic, the graphics are great, but it’s the story that really hits home. Still a PlayStation exclusive, The Last of Us 2 takes place years after the events of the first game.
In Days Gone, you play as a grizzled ex-biker in a post-apocalyptic world, filled with–you guessed it–zombies. The zombies in this game can be truly overwhelming: they’re fast, and they move in huge numbers.
The game is fully open-world, so missions and progression are left up to the player. Of course, as with any post-apocalypse narrative, the real antagonists of Days Gone aren’t the zombies.
In fact, one of the hardest things in the game is leaving your base and coming back only to find it ransacked. Of course, beyond the survival elements and the world-exploration, Minecraft is essentially a sandbox to build whatever you want.
Imagine this: you’re flying in an airplane over the ocean when your plane goes down (a very familiar premise by now). You end up stranded on a raft, which you can paddle to a nearby island.
From there, your job is to find resources, craft items, fish for food, and explore your surroundings. There isn’t a lot else to it, but if tropical scenery is more your style, Stranded Deep may be worth a look.
As with a couple of others on this list, the game is in early access, so there may still be some lingering bugs. You craft items and build your shelter, and even play with other people online.
Again, you could easily find your entire base destroyed by a rival group. You get all the survival elements from other games, but the added benefit of being able to tame and ride velociraptors.
The premise is simple: you’re stranded on a raft in the middle of the ocean, and you have to survive. Resources are simply the debris that might float by, which you can obtain by throwing a hook out and pulling them in.
At first glance, Don’t Starve seems like a cartoonish kids’ game (maybe not more so than Minecraft, but still). As with many survival games on this list, you spawn in a world that basically wants you dead.
Unlike the others, Don’t Starve has a more whimsical feel to it–both in art style and in the monsters that are always ready to eat you. The real reason these games get mentioned is because they take place in the wilderness.
Set in 1998 and featuring some of the most gorgeous scenery in a video game, Fire watch tells the story of Henry, a man who takes a summer job watching for fires in Wyoming. It’s pretty linear and there’s no big challenge to it, but the story and the scenery are what make the game great.
Named Tanker, whose tribe is threatened by several others who want to rule the land. Since it’s set in the Stone Age, you’re always surrounded by beautiful mountain landscapes and lush green forests.
It’s a very fun game to play, and as it progresses, you become friends with saber-toothed tigers and mammoths. But I loved playing it because I felt like I was in Glacier National Park the whole time.
We’ve all wondered how we would survive in a life or death situation with nothing but your bits to the wind for company. Many survival games launch in Early Access and refuse to leave for the longest time; a couple of entries on this list are certainly guilty of that.
Bear in mind that this collection of survival games features some Early Access titles, so some of them certainly have their rough edges. While plenty of people prefer the latter, the lack of PVP in the former makes it a far more isolating, absorbing experience for the former.
The first of the zombie games to enter our list, it’s important to stress here that Day isn’t going to be for everyone. In fact, whether it’s down to the long stretches of nothingness and a performance that still isn’t quite where it should be, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be completely underwhelmed by its first few hours.
It was in Early Access for an obscene and controversial length of time, though its 1.0 update wasn’t without its problems, either. 7 Days is not the prettiest or smoothest game on this list with some very rough textures and a general lack of sheen.
Packed with more penises than the House of Lords, Conan Exiles made a name for itself thanks to countless headlines that went in hard on its phallic nature. Really, that’s probably still its biggest selling point as it doesn’t do a great deal to distance itself from its peers while also borrowing pretty liberally from them.
Still, if you want to feel very loosely connected to the lore of Robert ErvIn Howard and grief some people, Conan Exiles has what you need. It has the customary open world survival game bank and drawbacks, though if you just want to build bases and get to the top of the ladder from the bottom, Exiles has a steady but rewarding sense of progression.
I see great potential in this world from an age undreamed of, and perhaps one day it can truly be a place of high adventure as well.” While its sequel may have failed to capture the same magic, How To Survive’s one of the most engrossing zombie games of recent times.
You have to keep track of vitamins, minerals, calorie intake, warmth and so much more in SCUM, as well as it's boasting some realistic approaches to stamina and body shapes determining the kind of athlete you are. Another game with a style that belies its brutality, the aim of Death Road To Canada is one that sounds simple on paper but is incredibly challenging in reality.
Either alone or with a motley crew of survivors, you must survive for long enough on its many pixel plains to make the trek into Canada: the last bastion of hope for humanity after a zombie apocalypse. Along the way, you’ll have to scavenge for supplies and fend off the undead with a risk and reward system firmly in place for almost any choice you make.
Sure, the busywork may become too much for some (your fellow survivors are certainly a demanding bunch), but once you arrive at a point where your community is as armed and ready as the army of a small country, all the hard work proves worth it. A lot of survival games take themselves very seriously, them favoring brutal realism and a punishing difficulty over a bit of a lark.
Currently, in Early Access, Breath edge updates have been somewhat on the slow side, yet everything Recruits Soft works add is great. Raft features plenty of interesting twists on the genre, including a love/hate relationship with seagulls and floating debris being the difference between life and death.
It’s been pretty difficult to separate Minecraft and Terr aria over the years with the latter not being quite as popular but still a rousing success all the same. They aren’t a million miles apart in terms of their core mechanics, but Terr aria’s 16-bit 2D world may be enough to win over retro gamers.
Terrarium emphasises combat more so than its closest cousin as well, helping it to feel even more like a doff of the cap of games gone by. While Obsidian have come to be known as the masters of the RPG, they went out on a limb when making Grounded, a family-friendly survival game where your biggest threats are spiders.
Grounded hasn’t been long into its Early Access journey at this time of writing, but you should expect good things as the months go by. Sadly, just like many of those we’ve already mentioned, Project Zombie is still in Early Access limbo, but it’s making all the right moves nevertheless.
Project Zombie has a few understandable blemishes here and there thanks to its small team, and it may not be the best looking game either, but make no mistake: it’s the epitome of survival. This Early Access success story is two things: 1) a zombie game that does plenty to refresh tired ideas and 2) a pre-release title that isn’t polarizing.
If you think you have the game licked, Rumanian waste no time in upping the ante with even bigger challenges to face head on. The story mode for 1.0 hasn’t been all that warmly received, but the core survival mechanics of the game are still horrendously fun.
It constantly asks the tough questions and shows that there is no right answer in life or death situations. “Frost punk is a beautiful game that doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of our species, nor does it pull any punches with its difficulty.
If you’ve been playing Minecraft for years, you no doubt remember how tough its early goings were with the creepers a-creeping and resources a relative rarity, though it’s not honestly much of a challenge it survives in these days. Minecraft has gone beyond being a simple survival game at this point to something different entirely, meaning it’s had more than its fair share of similarly block imitators.
One of the newest games on this list at this time of writing, Green Hell has been compared considerably to The Forest. Though they both have a familiar mood and feel, it’s Green Hell that is the more hardcore experience and one that will teach you how to play it with some incredibly harsh lessons.
Whether it’s because of a rattlesnake bite or eating a Goldman leaf, Green Hell makes no bones about how unforgiving it is. After launching out of Early Access, Green Hell can certainly claim that it has one of the most compelling story modes of any survival game.
A game with a UI so hideously abrasive that we questioned leaving it off this list on principle alone, ARK: Survival Evolved follows a similar trend to the previous two survival games mentioned but with a more fantastical twist. Most of the other games on this list are meaningless by comparison to 11 bits studios’ widely beloved gem.
While there are definitely survival elements to it, this Dwarf Fortress inspired monolith offers much more, the hugely impressive depth allowing you to craft many stories of your own. It’s quite frankly refreshing, but it’s actually one of the oldest entries on this list as Klein have been steadily supporting it with tweaks and new DLC ever since it launched.
You want a more hardcore version of Don’t Starve, a deeply disturbing survival game that’s far more terrifying than its lo-fi visuals may suggest? Then you should absolutely check out Dark wood: one of the most unsettling and constantly tense games of its ilk thanks to some superb audio design.
While that is the point of all the survival games we’ve compiled here, Dark wood doesn’t ask you to go up against teenagers with a penchant for tea bagging. However, if you’re lucky to find other players who don’t want to immediately kill you despite you only having a rock, Rust becomes a lot of fun.
Clans are part of the long-term gameplay of Rust, so you’ll want to find some allies as soon as you can, though you can always hop into solo only servers. After your spaceship crash lands on an alien planet, you have to eke out an existence by balancing your basic human needs, the allure of exploration, and a need to make your way home.
From one rock hard survival game to another, The Long Dark’s big bad isn’t a monster nor is other players. Compared to other fare, The Long Dark may be slightly on the slow side for some, though there’s nothing quite as thrilling as dragging your starving ass across the Canadian wilderness in search of pork and beans.
The thud of your axe and the consequent falling of trees means that although you may be doing a lot of it to try to survive against freakish enemies after your plane crashes, you will never tire of it. An Early Access graduate that fully released in a relatively short amount of time, The Forest has lots going for it that its contemporaries simply don’t.
The Forest also has a sheen to it that the likes of 7 Days To Die and Day could only dream of, as well as very limited opportunities for briefing as multiplayer is co-op, as well as there being the option for (terrifying) VR. “Any issues I had with The Forest didn’t stop it from becoming the definitive survival experience on console in my eyes, however.
If you’re yet to try the game on PC, its PS4 version is a surprisingly sleek and arguably just as rewarding time-sinker that won’t even make you feel bad for being a terrible parent. Some of the coverage you find on Cultured Vultures contains affiliate links, which provide us with small commissions based on purchases made from visiting our site.